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Willard Responds to the BRT
4/15/2010 • BY GEORGE BEIER • 1 Comment

There were 81 responses to the BRT poll.  66 were against, and 7 were for the BRT, and 7 were undecided.  This is a compilation of all of the responses.  If you have any questions, please give a call to George at 510-290-9036.

“I am a graduate student (Materials Science) at UC Berkeley … I wanted to take a second to write you to express my strong support of the BRT plan for telegraph ave. I wanted to share with you my relevant experience from travelling in Brazil. While a dedicated lane to buses may seem like a novel concept here, in Curitiba, Brazil, where I stayed for a period of time on my travels last year, it is a way of life. The system is amazing, and has changed the way that people in the city relate to transportation, as it really is not necessary to own a car. Quick running buses leave traffic stymied cars in the dust, and have led the city to an era of economic renewal. Curitiba is a rare example of a Brazilian city with a thriving middle class, and low crime rates, and I believe rapid bus transport had a sizable hand in this, both economically and through establishing a culture of the city. I feel that such a system could help renew the corridor between our homes and Oakland in a similar way, and urge you and all Willard Neighborhood Association residents to strongly support the measure.”
“I'm a resident of Willard Neighborhood, and I want to let you know that I am strongly in favor of the city's BRT plan for Telegraph.  I think that having more reliable, quick public transit will be good for the environment, be useful for Berkeley residents as a complement to BART, and could help to revitalize Telegraph by making it more convenient to come here.

I strongly urge the WNA to support BRT in Berkeley!”
“I am a Willard resident and supporter of BRT. Thanks for doing the poll.”
“I can tell you why I am for the BRT.  I think that, over time, this area will become much more like a European city in which people live densely and rely a lot on public transportation to get around.  If we don’t want BART rail lines over our heads in our neighborhoods, we have to accept the other option of connecting BART to bus lines and running more buses.  It’s got to start somewhere, and I am okay with having it start in my neighborhood since I think it’s inevitable.
It’s also an environmental issue for me.”
“I am a supporter of BRT. Public transit is more sustainable than masses of indivdually-driven cars; offers transport who those who cannot afford a car( low income, students etc); decreases pollution etc”
“I support bus rapid transit, and have been disappointed that the Willard Neighborhood Assn is so against it.
Rapid transit cuts down on the emissions that cause global warming.
Lanes devoted to bus lines are one of the least expensive ways to install rapid transit, much cheaper than light rail lines or underground lines like BART.
I would be more likely to take a bus to my business appointments in downtown Oakland if we had BRT (I work from home).
BRT worked really well in Toronto, according to a friend of mine who lives there.  It was implemented many years ago.”
i definitely support some (improved & enhanced) version of ac transit's brt project:
~ car drivers could use alternative streets & also walk a bit (good for health, especially if air pollution is cleared)
~ loading trucks should be accommodated somehow
~ a telegraph somewhat similar to the santa monica promenade does not sound like a bad idea
~ car drivers could take a break from the driving stress from time to time & use transit (perhaps like those riding transbay buses from/to el cerrito, etc. to/from the embarcadero bus terminal)
~ bicycles should definitely have their niche both in the streets & the city culture
~ the use of cards such as translink should gradually become the standard (including a procedure for low-income riders to obtain their cards)
~ all bus drivers should be professional & polite, having gone through the appropriate training & enjoying a respectable profession in society
~ ac transit should get rid of those horrible double buses”
“Mark me down as a supporter of BRT.”
“I am a tepid supporter of BRT.”
“I am definitely OPPOSED to the BRT.”
“Let me know how I can help fight the BRT plan. It's really driving me crazy. I have a lot of experience with various 'take action' campaigns. If there's any way I can apply any of that to this project, I'd be glad to do so.”
“I strongly oppose the BRT… I don't think it will solve any problems, and it will create HUGE ones.”
“I DO NOT support the express bus line on Telegraph. I don't take the bus, and haven't since I had to to get to BHS back in the late 80's. What concerns me is the increased traffic on Stuart Street (where I live).”
“I am opposed to BRT.”
“I can't tell you how much I'm against BRT.  I'll start the recall campaign if this gets approved.  I can't believe we are going to spend 300 million and possibly destroy business and neighborhoods to save 2 minutes on a trip from downtown Berkeley to Oakland.  Two minutes isn't even time for an extra snooze  or a cup of coffee.  We gain nothing by doing this.  Tell AC Transit to stick it where the sun doesn't shine.”
“Opponent of BRT!!!!!!”
“You know, it occurs to me that if you can get a reasonable response to this poll, it might be a good venue to expand it a little bit to include encouragement of people to share their own particular perspective in slightly greater detail, and also maybe to serve as a place to ask questions (as an alternative to having to ask the city).”
“Hi. I live on Stuart St in Berkeley and am VERY much opposed to the BRT plan that will increase traffic and congestion across the entire neighborhood.”
I think it would be an absolute disaster.”
“Thanks to you George for keeping us on point and in the know.”
“I am an Opponent of the BRT proposal, primarily since I cannot understand why we need to spend millions on "hardscape" transportation options when ACTransit is constantly raising fares and cutting existing lines. There are many ways we could use the money available to encourage and increase bus ridership rather than expending $$ on construction costs.”
Thanks for your work, George.”
“I want to voice my opposition to the BRT plan. It will degrade the area around Telegraph even more and make it impossible to park or get around safely and  sanely. We already have problems with too many drivers going too fast on Benvenue and other streets. I wish we had those "sleeping policemen" as they are called in England. I mean the bumps that stretch across the streets, like the ones found on Derby west of Telegraph. And, do I need to go into that miserable exercise we who do not have off street parking must endure: trolling for parking places? Why do we find traffic diverters on streets east of College, south of Ashby and west of Telegraph but not in our area?

NO to the BRT plan...We have enough traffic with the Julia Morgan, schools, UC students, etc.making our streets unsafe and unpleasant.

Thanks for giving me an easy place to make my thoughts known.”
“I am definitely opposed - for numerous reasons.”
“I'm an opponent, but will probably not have time for WNA work on the issue this spring. Thanks for keeping me in the loop.”
You'll be stunned, george, to hear that I'm an opponent of BRT and think something more useful could be done with $300M. 
 Like, say, providing more actual bus service, which (believe it or not) I have long believed is one of the best solutions to Bay Area transit...”
“I oppose BRT, and favor Rapid Bus Plus.”
“No on BRT”, “An opponent of BRT”, “Against BRT”, “Opposed”
“I am strongly OPPOSED to BRT.  Lofty transportation solutions imposed from on high rarely if ever achieve anywhere near the mythical-magical increase in ridership these self-congratulatory planners predict in their near-utopian fervor...
If we could spend a fraction of the money allocated to the Berkeley corridor to improve the homeless situation in People's Park and really deal with that situation once and for all, it would take away a big part of the reason why Telegraph is the always somewhat unpleasant, always somewhat threatening and always somewhat offensive place it currently is - and open the way to turn it into a more pleasant 4th-Street-like retail area with fun, hip places for students and residents alike to enjoy.
Taking any traffic lanes from the last remaining more or less open arterial that connects our neighborhood to the known universe outside of the UC campus area is a foolish idea that is bound to cause College and Ashby-like plaque and congestion that leads to the choking traffic jams you see on those streets several times a day.”
“I am an opponent of BRT. “
“Opposed to BRT - supporter of Rapid Bus Plus the better alternative.”
“BRT is so bad for the neighborhood and Telegraph Avenue. Yet the Bate's machine and pro-bikes lobby will win in the end, killing our area and others. Peace.”
“I'm an Operating Engineer, retired. My credentials in this particular area are a little rusty but I assure you that I know my business in the transit sectors. I am strongly against the proposed BRT plan and its alternatives as they stand. The need to change our community transit is apparent but the current proposals are in desperate need of improvement. The current policy lacks the strength of our greater community's needs. I would go into details but I have got the time. And that's my point. What's the big rush to one way or the other? “
Against the BRT--a local alternative would be preferable.”
“I am an opponent of BRT.
I think there are steps that can be taken to improve the existing Telegraph Ave. bus service.
AC Transit's #72 San Pablo bus increased its on time performance and ridership with minor changes like devices that made the stop light's turn green.
I would like to see the same kinds of changes in the Locally Preferred Alternative”
“I am an opponent of BRT”
“We are opponents here on Benvenue”
“An opponent of BRT!”, “I am an opponent of BRT”, “OPPOSED to BRT.”, “Opponent”
I am an OPPONENT of BRT, although I would be a supporter of a light rail system of some kind. Put the $300 million towards a better vision!”
“Opponent - The LPA is not developed enough for me to support it.  So, I am even more against the BRT as AC Transit has proposed it. 

Obvious shortcomings.
- more pressure on parking, shifted to residential streets with no additional protections for residential parking or parking programs to further restrict non-residential parking
- no stop in front of Willard?  Derby to Stuart is a long block.
- "Removing lanes from traffic would increase congestion, but not to severe levels." - they should define "severe" - and why would we even it want to get there?
- Until I see the parking and traffic data, and descriptions of proposed programs, I cannot support studying this any further.
- This section is obviously being treated as a pass through, not as a neighborhood.  Else, they would be discussing Telegraph in the context of bringing new uses/zoning along Telegraph and protections for quality of life.  This will improve QoL for riders, but not for the residents.
- North section of Telegraph have the homeless.  Will homeless expand south of Dwight?
- If there are mitigations, who will pay for it?  AC already has a budget crisis - can they pay for enhanced parking monitoring or any special programs to maintain the residents QoL?
- Any program that does not mention fares vis-a-vis other providers does not address a big reason why people don't take transit in the first place. “
WE know the stats and see the crazy traffic on Benvenue and Hillegass during rush hour... I remember stats of years back when BPD metered traffic - Benvenue got the brunt of it, as it was the only north-south between Dwight and Alcatraz at the time. Given all the stop signs at every corner on these streets and the restrictions now on crossing Benvenue at Ashby (Hillegass doesn't have that protection), it will be interesting to see how traffic is affected.
 More importantly, I think that for most of the day the buses will barely reduce traffic--which is light for most of the day. It is during rush hour that things get messy... and I think that better and more frequent bus service during those hours would be mroe likely to pull people out of their cars. You don't need a dedicated bus line for that--but you do need buses that come more often than every 15-20 minutes, and also, where payment is faster--either with a fast pass (with a deep discount to discourage people who insist on paying cash) or some other method. 300 M$$$ is too much $$$ these days for this corridor.”
“Count me as opposed. Thanks for keeping us informed!”
“A comment from the LeConte area. 

I oppose the BRT.  Among other things there will be no right turns onto Telegraph (for those of us who live west of Telegraph) and no right turns for those living east of Telegraph.

The loss of parking will damage merchants who are already suffering in the recession.

The busses have a logo that says RAPID, I think the plan is vapid.”
I think you’ll find overwhelming opposition to BRT in the WNA, for obvious reasons.  Hopefully the BRT fiasco can be blocked before they hemorrhage too much more money on it…”
“I'm dead set AGAINST.”
“Opponent of BRT!!!”
“George, thanks for doing this.  My nutshell response is, of course, #3 = opponent of BRT as planned.
A couple of points besides the nut, however:
(1) While "improvements" may have a technical meaning that makes it a handy way of characterizing lane removal, signal timing, etc., it more commonly refers to a change for the better, so the way you use it here implies a bias favoring BRT.  I personally see most of the things you list favorably, but certainly not the lane dedication thing.  Would either put quotes around "improvements" or simply use the word "changes" instead.
(2) An important, more globally appealing argument (i.e., less based on interests of neighboring residents or businesses) in opposition is that most, maybe more, of the presumed BRT benefits can probably be achieved at a small fraction of the cost, and without the disadvantages of lane removal.  Your "better uses for $300M" may suggest that, but I think it will leave a lot of people thinking that better transit has to mean BRT or nothing.”
“I am a resident of Hillegass Avenue between Webster & Woolsey and, like most of my neighbors, I am an OPPONENT of BRT.
Removing two auto lanes from Telegraph will be greatly increase cut-through traffic on our street, create major congestion on Telegraph, harm local businesses on that corridor, and cost over $300 million.  And for what, to reduce bus transit time from Oakland to North Berkeley by 5 minutes?  Please register my voice as vociferously AGAINST BRT!”
“I am against the BRT plan.”
“Here is our 4 member family vote (2 adults, 2 kids) – opponents of BRT”
Hello George. I hope this email finds you well. In answer to the question about BRT... I am opposed to it. I think it could really change the dynamic of this area. And so many businesses, vendors, as well as residents seem to believe that they'll be adversely affected by this, and therefore, I'd have to side with them. Thank you for conducting this poll! Peace and blessings.”
“Hate BRT!”
“Hi George....... I'm not going to be able to shout loud enough over an email, but, I'm screaming NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO
to BRT! 
My question would be: How will any of this benefit the people who actually live in Berkeley???? I don't see one Berkeley resident actually using this service, do you??? Also, being a resident, for 36 years on Hillegass avenue, this could bring nothing but more, and speedier traffic to our street, which just in our block alone houses over 30 young children! 
Just my 2 cents...”
“I'm opposed. If you've attended these BRT meetings, you get the sense that BRT is coming and you get to suggest what color the buses should be painted. What is needed is an explanation of the process for those opposed.
Does the Berkeley City Council have veto power? Do Kriss and Gordon think that they have the political pull to carry the council? Writing comment letters on the EIR to AC Transit is nice but is it really an effective way to stop the elimination of lanes on Telegraph Ave?
When you hear AC talk about how the elimination of parking spaces on Telegraph will be mitigated by adjacent off street parking, and you live on one of those adjacent streets and know that all of those off street parking spots are used all the time, every day, you realize you are listening to "planning speak". Who's pumping out the message that the buses are empty. That there isn't any mitigation for spaces on Telegraph Ave? That the concept that BRT will be so great that people will just leave their cars at home and thus those two extra lanes on Telegraph will just be empty so why not use them for buses is just folly?
Someone needs to explain the REAL process to the community, not just the steps required in the required public process.”
I am opposed to the portion of BRT that calls for closing off two lanes of Telegraph to other vehicles.  If I have to choose a camp, I am: An OPPONENT of BRT”
“I am an OPPONENT of BRT.
“Again thank you for being at the forefront of important issues that impact the neighborhood.
It is obvious that AC Transit will not give up on this Boondoggle BRT and the recent approval of that Fed grant, although limited in amount, is just enough to spur them on.
I cast my view and support into the "OPPONENT OF BRT" Basket.
With ALL the woes facing Public Transit in this Bay Area I find it so irresponsible for AC Tran. to even consider this BOONDOGGLE as some sort of remedy.
There are so many better ways to pursue increased ridership, without destroying already funtional infrastructure.”
Ocha says:
Wednesday, November 11, 2015 at 12:17 PM
I have had him as a driver a few times, he rllaey is wonderful! It makes my day to see someone who truly enjoys their job and makes the regular bus riding experience a fun one!
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