WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT BUS RAPID TRANSIT (BRT) ON TELEGRAPH
AC Transit plans to build a massive new project along Telegraph Avenue. It’s called Bus Rapid Transit (BRT). BRT would reduce traffic to a single lane each way on the entire length of Telegraph Avenue and create two bus lanes in the middle of the street exclusively for AC Transit buses. All cars, trucks, and bicycles would be restricted to a single "mixed-flow" lane. We would lose 75% of the parking spaces on Telegraph in Berkeley. Except at signalized intersections, left turns off Telegraph would be prohibited, and cars could not cross Telegraph or turn left onto Telegraph.
How would Telegraph Avenue neighbors and businesses be affected?
AC Transit admits that the congestion would cause significant traffic delays and spillover traffic. Hundreds of cars and trucks would spill out into quiet, family neighborhoods near Telegraph, and would clog streets and intersections in other neighborhoods.
AC Transit doesn’t care what happens to existing neighborhoods or businesses.
AC Transit did not study the business or neighborhood impacts of the loss of hundreds of parking spaces and the permanent congestion of a major thoroughfare. However, when 20 parking spaces were recently removed on Telegraph Avenue, businesses there suffered a significant drop in revenue.
Different types of bus transit thoroughfares have been tried in other cities in the U.S. Their success depends on local conditions. Some of them (such as the bus-only mall on State Street in Chicago) were so damaging to merchants that they were changed back to mixed-use streets—at great cost.
Is BRT "green"?
No! AC transit hopes that making it inconvenient for drivers will force people to ride the bus. But AC Transit studies show that few drivers would switch to buses. Instead, most BRT riders would just switch from other buses or BART.
This $400-million project ignores the real reasons people don’t ride buses.
Proponents argue that BRT would help stop global warming by reducing greenhouse gas emissions. But studies show that this project will NOT reduce air pollution, carbon dioxide gases, or save energy. In fact, particulate air pollution may increase as a result of the BRT plan. This is due to more auto congestion, which would be responsible for more auto related emissions, and that BRT plans to use large, diesel-powered buses, not cleaner hybrid or alternative fuel vehicles. This plan continues a commitment to harmful, fossil-fuel technology.
We can do better!
Who would benefit from this project?
The average bus rider would save about one minute per mile or 3.5 minutes for an average trip. But BRT stops would be much farther apart, reducing this time savings and inconveniencing passengers. So who really benefits?
AC Transit would get an expensive, showy project and exclusive use of 50% of a major thoroughfare, crowding cars, trucks and bicycles to the side. The University of California could expand much more in Berkeley. But the main goal of BRT is to benefit the developers of transit oriented development. They would receive funds and special zoning privileges to build large, high-density developments within a specified distance from Telegraph Avenue. BRT is a Trojan Horse, taking away our rights to protect our neighborhoods.
How can I learn more about BRT?
You may contact Berkeleyans for Better Transportation Options (BBTOP) at firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com or BBTOP, PO Box 5489, Berkeley CA 94705. This is a coalition of Berkeley residents and merchants which is working hard to alert and involve the public in this highly impactful issue before it’s too late. You may read a copy of the BRT study (called the Draft Environmental Impact Report) at your library, or request a free CD copy of the DEIR from your city council office or from AC Transit at firstname.lastname@example.org.
What can I do to stop BRT in Berkeley?
Most Berkeleyans who learn the facts about BRT oppose it, so this project feeds on ignorance and apathy. Unfortunately, most Berkeley residents are still unaware of BRT and the impact it would have on their lives and communities.
Here is what you can do:
• The most important thing you can do right away is to sign the petition for an initiative ordinance that requires voter approval before traffic lanes are removed for dedicated bus use in Berkeley. This must be done before May 6,
2008 in order to get this initiative on the ballot this coming November. Some locations where this can be done during business hours are:
+ The Looking Glass, 2848 Telegraph at Oregon St, hours: 9am-8pm
10am-6pm Sat, 11am-5pm Sun, 548-6888.
+ Bill's Trading Post, 2945 College (near Ashby), hours: Mon-Sat 10-6,
+ Higher Taste, 2556 Telegraph (near Parker), hours: 11am-7pm Mon-Sun,
+ Unitech Electronics, 2594 Telegraph (near Parker), hours: 11-8
11-7 Sat-Sun, 644-2277.
+ Dark Entry, 2589 Telegraph (near Parker), hours: 2-7 Mon-Wed, 12-7
• Inform your friends, neighbors, and co-workers.
• State your views at public meetings
• Contact the mayor and the city council:
email@example.com (District 1) 981-7110
firstname.lastname@example.org (District 2) 981-7120
email@example.com (District 3) 981-7130
firstname.lastname@example.org (District 4) 981-7140
email@example.com (District 5) 981-7150
firstname.lastname@example.org (District 6) 981-7160
email@example.com (District 7) 981-7170
firstname.lastname@example.org (District 8) 981-7180
email@example.com (for full council in one message) or write: Berkeley City Council, c/o City Clerk, 2180 Milvia Street, Berkeley CA 94704 BRT is not a done deal, and your opinion does matter.
BRT: The more you know, the less you like it.
Get the facts! Get involved!