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Upgrade transit

Steve Geller Berkeley
Tuesday December 18, 2001


There was some good transportation news in the Planet recently. Berkeley is providing the Eco-Pass to employees; several hundred have signed up, and will presumably be riding the bus for free. Earlier, the UC students voted to re-approve their “class pass”, even when the rate went up. 

But the car culture is still firmly in control. City streets are still snarled with traffic; most people still choose the car over the bus for all trips. 

It looks likely that the General Plan will not have a moratorium on more parking downtown. Berkeley looks likely to make policy T-35 meaningless, by eliminating the moratorium on new parking, and probably by not doing much of anything to improve public transit. 

Given the prevalent car-first attitude toward transportation, I can hardly blame downtown enterprises for pushing for more parking, or our Council for gutlessly going along. More parking is sure to bring more congestion, but the fact is that most people don’t care. 

The Eco-Pass is a great idea, but people still need good transit to ride. Parking gets most of the political attention, while public transit gets mostly lip service. Of course traffic will keep getting worse if public policy pours on the cars, and compounds the problem by leaving the buses to fight the resulting congestion. 

If we must endure all the cars, and provide them with parking, I think we should have bus-only lanes on major transit corridors like Shattuck, University and San Pablo. Elsewhere, these dedicated lanes have made a huge difference in transit service. BART keeps such a good schedule only because BART has a dedicated right-of-way.