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Yay! AC Transit is getting rid of my bus stop

17 Aug

In March, I wrote about the 30th Street northbound 51A bus stop that is the closest bus stop to my home. Though it is incredibly convenient to me, I almost never get off of the bus there because the stop is very redundant – there’s a stop half a block before it and another a block before that one. Those two stops are heavily used but my sad bus stop is only sparsely used. Since I know that the bus pulling over just for me to get off adds time to its trip, I get off a half block early and walk.

I wrote in that post that I wanted AC Transit to get rid of the stop:

Why? Well, a couple years back AC Transit did a thorough study on the 51 line. They found that the 51 was so slow because it spends only 50% of its time actually moving, while 20% is spent in dwell time (stopped at a bus stop) and 30% is spent in delays (i.e. stuck in traffic). As I wrote back in 2009, one of the major causes of delay is bus stop spacing:

If you’ve ridden the 51, I’m sure you’ve noticed that the bus stops are incredibly close together. It seems that every time I take it down Broadway, we stop at every block, which of course takes forever and makes me crazy. According to ACT, the ideal amount of space between bus stops is 800-1300 feet, yet on the 51 line, 87 bus stops (more than half of the stops) are less than 800 feet from the next stop. This slows the whole route down because pulling over, picking up passengers, and getting back into traffic at all of these stops takes a long time.

So you can imagine how happy I was when on my way home from work yesterday I saw this: Continue reading


Oakland’s Safe Routes to Transit grant applications

26 Jul

Since several of you seemed to enjoy my report on a recent AC Transit meeting, I thought I’d share some of what happened at last week’s Oakland Bicycle and Pedestrian Advisory Committee meeting. Though there were several interesting items on the agenda, some were a bit too complex for a quick report or were just brief reports so I’m going to focus here on one agenda item – Oakland’s Safe Routes to Transit (SR2T) grant applications.

From TransForm’s website, here’s a description of the SR2T regional program:

The Safe Routes to Transit (SR2T) Program awards $20 million in grants to facilitate walking and bicycling to regional transit. The program is funded by Regional Measure 2, and is administered by TransForm and the East Bay Bicycle Coalition. By improving the safety and convenience of biking and walking to regional transit, SR2T will give commuters the opportunity to leave their cars at home, and reduce congestion on Bay Area bridges. Learn about the creation of SR2T...

To date nearly $12 million has been awarded to over 30 capital and planning projects.

SR2T funds may be used for:

  • Secure bicycle storage at transit stations/stops/pods
  • Safety enhancements for ped/bike station access to transit stations/stops/pods
  • Removal of ped/bike barriers near transit stations
  • System-wide transit enhancements to accommodate bicyclists or pedestrians

The application deadline for the fourth cycle of grants out of five cycles is approaching, and Oakland Senior Transportation Planner Bruce Williams told us last Thursday about the applications Oakland is submitting. Since SR2T doesn’t fund projects all the way from conception to construction, the first project is a capital project and the other two are planning projects (though Oakland could ask for capital grants for these two projects in the next funding cycle. Continue reading

Check out the Freedom Bus this Friday night

22 Mar

Have you heard about the Freedom Bus Project? It’s a collaboration between AC Transit and the Alameda County Office of Education that aims to celebrate the 55th Anniversary of Rosa Parks’ historic bus ride in Montgomery, Alabama via an art competition for students. The winners of the art competition will have their art displayed, not in a museum or a government building, but on buses!

From the press release:

Elementary, middle and high school students in the AC Transit service district, which spans Alameda County and West Contra Costa County, have submitted social justice-themed artwork to be considered for the Freedom Bus Project’s mobile art exhibit. Starting in April, four of the winning entries will be displayed in over 200 buses in the AC Transit fleet, allowing AC Transit riders to participate in the Freedom Bus Project. The mobile art exhibit will be on display until April 30, 2011.

Continue reading

Abel Guillen: Reflections from Berkeley City College

18 Mar

This guest post was written by Abel Guillen who was first elected to serve on the Peralta Community College Board in 2006 and is immediate past president of the board. Guillén, who represents Oakland’s Temescal, West Oakland, Chinatown, Downtown and Adam’s Point neighborhoods, is vice president of Caldwell Flores Winters Inc., where he has helped raise more than $2 billion in bond funding for public schools and colleges throughout California over the past 10 years. The first in his family to graduate from college, he has a Masters of Public Policy from the Goldman School of Public Policy at UC Berkeley and a B.A. in Sociology, also from Cal.

At this evening’s Board of Trustees meeting, I heard powerful testimony from our students.

A student who grew up in East Oakland passionately described his childhood.  He told us he would wander the streets because he would fear going home.  He dropped out of school and had run-ins with the law and got caught up in some drug cases.  He tried Merritt College – “just to give a shot” – after his last arrest.  As a result of the Disabled Students Program & Services, he was tested and qualified for services.  He is now achieving in his studies, and last semester achieved 4.0 GPA.  He also proudly told us that he serves as president of Merritt College’s honor society. Continue reading

AC Transit – please, get rid of my bus stop

2 Mar

I’m sure AC Transit board members and staff get all sorts of requests. Riders ask for lower fares, longer hours, more frequent service, and better buses. Some people who aren’t as fond of buses ask AC Transit to stop running buses in their neighborhoods (yes, a North Berkeley group does this). People ask for bus stops to be moved to be more convenient. But my guess is that AC Transit receives few requests like mine, as I want AC Transit to get rid of my bus stop on the 51A line.

Yes, I would like to walk further from the bus to get to my home. Continue reading

Arreguin killed BRT for Berkeley & possibly North Oakland

18 Jun

Last week I shared the exciting news that BRT could be saved in Berkeley and North Oakland. Councilmember Jesse Arreguin had agreed to bring the BRT LPA up for another vote next week, but at the last minute, with no advance notice to advocates, he pulled the item. Through this action, Arreguin killed BRT in Berkeley for at least several years and BRT in North Oakland is in severe danger. (So you can take the June 22nd Berkeley City Council meeting off your calendar).

I’m deeply disappointed by Councilmember Arreguin’s actions. I can respect (but not fully understand) that he disagrees on BRT, but his actions were incredibly disrespectful to the many environmental and transit advocates who were counting on him. I guess NIMBYs are a more important constituency to him.

My friend Reuben has an excellent and thorough piece up on his blog explaining what happened and why Jesse’s wrong:

Somewhere along the line, you would think that the constant barrage of facts and studies would prove some point.  Whether you are for or against something, the general train of thought is that the “correct” argument is the argument that has the most support (data, literature, etc) behind it.  Bus Rapid Transit is a positive thing for the neighborhoods and cities it serves.  There are numerous examples of BRT all around the country and the world.  BRT is nothing new and has been around for decades.  So you would think when Berkeley was asked to consider studying the construction of a fully tricked out BRT system they would take to heart all these examples and past literature and data to make an informed decision.  But Berkeley has its own rules and so does Berkeley City Counciman Jesse Arreguin.

Not since John Kerry’s infamous flip-flop during the 2004 presidential campaign against George W. Bush have we seen an example of moving back and forth on the same issue as we see with Councilman Arreguin on BRT in Berkeley.  Except in this case, Councilman Arreguin first didnt vote for anything, then indicated he would vote for it before finally voting against it.

To be completely fair, Councilman Arreguin and I have more often than not been on opposite sides of the development and planning spectrum.  I tend to be rather moderate in my politics and favor development projects, especially dense development near transit, such as in Downtown Berkeley.  But you would think that me and Councilman Arreguin would actually be on a role reversal on the subject of BRT.  You would think that better public transit would actually be the priority of the once endorsed candidate of the Sierra Club vs. myself, a self described pro-development, never-going-to-completely-give-up-my-car guy.  But oddly enough, we are where we are.

Please click through and read his full post for the whole story and an explanation of what this means for Berkeley and North Oakland.

Berkeley City Council coming around on BRT

10 Jun

Last night, I did something that I never thought I’d do – asked AC Transit to delay a vote on bus rapid transit (BRT). Don’t worry, I haven’t caught the Berkeley NIMBY bug. Along with about a dozen other transit advocates, I implored AC Transit to delay the vote just two weeks because there’s been a very exciting development in Berkeley, which you probably remember voted against even studying dedicated lanes.

Eric explains at Transbay Blog:

Berkeley Councilmember Anderson, who was not present at the April 29 meeting, has indicated that he would support full BRT.  Councilmember Arreguín, who abstained on April 29, has also indicated that he would support full BRT.  If so, the 4-4 vote on April 29 would become a 6-3 vote endorsing BRT.  The agenda has not yet been set as of the time of this writing, but the current plan is for Berkeley to revisit BRT at its June 22 meeting.

The AC Transit Board of Directors intended to adopt an LPA for the whole project on June 9, incorporating the local preferences of the three cities.  However, the Board continued the item and delayed its decision on BRT until June 23, just one day after the Berkeley meeting.  This will give the Berkeley City Council an opportunity to reverse its prior decision.  The way forward is not crystal clear if that vote gets delayed, or if Berkeley insists on substantial changes, but the process should be straightforward if Berkeley promptly approves the build alternative on June 22.

And why should Oaklanders care if Berkeley’s included in BRT? One reason is that many people ride the bus from Oakland to Berkeley. If BRT turns around at the Berkeley border, all of those Oaklanders will have to transfer, which could negate much of the time savings from BRT.

Just as importantly, many of us North Oaklanders are extremely concerned that if Berkeley’s not included in BRT, AC Transit might turn BRT around in downtown Oakland. That would be a huge loss to North Oakland, and though it wouldn’t be fair to us, I can understand why AC Transit would consider this if Berkeley isn’t willing to support BRT.

So please put the evening of Tuesday, June 22nd on your calendar. Though the votes are there, it’s important for many of us to show up to support the councilmembers who may change their votes. I’m sure there will be plenty of people screaming at them about how BRT would ruin Berkeley, so it’s important that we balance this with reason. I’ll post further details about the meeting when I have them.