The Downtown Berkeley Association says it supports a balanced approach for transit and parking. However, for years parking advocates have claimed a need for balance based on demand and we built more parking.
At what point of time in our auto oriented era have we had a balanced approach? Why do we have all of the growing congestion? Do we want more people accessing downtown with more autos and generating more congestion? What do people mean by a balanced approach?
For balance, we need to expand our perspective and look to the future. We should look at what other cities with lots of congestion are doing. San Francisco has so much congestion and pedestrian accidents that they are considering reducing parking requirements.
Meanwhile, more and more people are attending the many cultural, sport and entertainment events using transit in San Francisco having limited parking.
Most cities outside the United States have little or no parking in central city areas are getting by with closely controlled and administered parking. Many of these cities inform drivers where there is available parking when entering these areas. Supplementing their limited parking, they get by because they have good transit. Better enforcement, control and charging a market rate for parking raises revenue that could supplement additional transit service.
For Berkeley’s current situation, people evidently are accessing downtown, the university, YMCA, and city offices, encountering some congestion but are managing.
The problem of urban living becomes evident when more and more autos are used generating more congestion and pedestrian hazards. So again where is the balance?
While acknowledging that some people need to drive, I firmly believe there are a greater number who need not drive to downtown and use transit. UC Berkeley’s Class Pass has substantially increased use of transit and reduced the demand for parking.
The City’s Eco Pass program should also reduce auto trips and parking. What about Downtown Berkeley Association and the YMCA instituting or encouraging similar programs? There are cities that control parking where the city gains revenues to support transit. Orlando, Fla. allows only limited private parking within the building complex and controls all public parking and from the revenues operates a convenient free exclusive way bus system serving city center.
Vancouver, British Colombia imposes a special tax on private parking and its collected revenue supplements transit. With more revenue from parking programs as mentioned above and with more people using transit, generating more revenue, in combination this will make transit more convenient with increased frequency. So, one should not judge transit and parking at current usage.
Therefore, I favor the Transportation Demand Study’s proposal to provide an opportunity for the city to institute programs as mentioned.
Roy Nakadegawa P.E.,
BART Director, District 3