It comes with a $400 million dollar bill
And empty seats they’ll never fill.
It’ll give us the cut-through traffic blues
And much less parking to use.
Merchants are even starting to frown
In fear of business leaving town.
Diesel smoke will be dispersed
That’s bound to make your asthma worse.
You like big trees? They might meet their doom
‘Cause private bus lanes need lots of room.
What’s this impending calamity?
A transit boondoggle named BRT.
If you haven’t heard of it, it’s no surprise—
It’s hardly been publicized,
‘Cause it’s better to finish all your plans
Before the public makes its demands.
One needn’t ever be too endearing
When practicing social engineering.
Is this the best way to move people fast?
It’s the fossil-fuel technology of the past!
A diesel dinosaur roaring to and fro,
AC Transit’s braggadocio.
BRT actually won’t make people drive cars any less—
There are too many needs it doesn’t address
And too many places it doesn’t go,
So new ridership will barely grow.
And it may even foul up your bus commute
Because they’ll put fewer stops along the route.
You see, stops just slow up the buses’ speed—
Passengers are a big nuisance, indeed.
And after all this, BART will still be quicker,
Plus everyone knows their seat cushions are thicker.
AC Transit could get more folks on the bus
By making transfers less onerous.
Proof-of-payment would sure save time,
And we’d all prefer a bit less grime.
And if they really want to make riders cheer
Those Van Hool buses should disappear!
The ride is so rough and the seats so high,
Tough luck if you’re no longer young and spry.
You’ll be bounced and jounced and thrown around
As you lunge for a handhold that’s nowhere to be found,
And no matter how many folks get cracks in their spine
Those are the buses they’ll use for the BRT line.
Don’t bother complaining—they just don’t care!
And I hope you know BRT won’t help clear the air.
Oh, you’ve heard it’ll reduce greenhouses gases?
Nope—the EIR here shows failures, not passes.
Their big diesel buses will spew out plenty of soot,
Most of all near the spots where the stations are put.
So who’s behind this dim-witted plan?
Regional agencies who claim they can
Issue commands by royal decree
To massively increase our density.
That’s what’s really going on here,
But they don’t want that to reach your ear.
Top-down backroom planning is IN
And we citizens take it on the chin
As developers take out huge new loans
For “Transit-Oriented Development zones,”
Where zoning laws can be ignored
And condos that are multiple-floored
Rise ten, fifteen, twenty stories tall
‘Til our quality of life shrinks to nothing at all.
And what of the neighbors who’ll suffer these ills?
Why, let them all move to the Berkeley hills!
BRT suits UC, there is no doubt
So they can build even bigger and further out,
Until they take over the entire East Bay
And drive every last family away.
Smart Growth groupies, too, have begun to drool
Hoping BRT will cement their rule.
And they’ll all march together with fierce intent
On the road to redevelopment.
What about us—do we have any rights?
Are we nothing but opportunity sites?
Will we let these arrogant zealots steal
Our future in a backroom deal?
For far too long, we’ve been left in the cold
While our democracy is bought and sold—
It’s our human rights we must redeem
So let’s tell this unelected regime
Of ABAG and ACCMA and MTC
And our self-serving University:
Your plans to grow forevermore
Frighten us to our very core.
Nature always trumps human pride—
Unending growth is suicide.
And when Mother Nature issues her decrees,
They really bring you to your knees!
We must keep Berkeley truly livable;
Failure would just be unforgivable.
If we don’t want our neighborhoods destroyed
All our voices must be employed—
So hands off our homes and shops
This is where the mad bus stops.
We’re not gonna take this BRT guff;
This time we’ve really had ENOUGH.
(ABAG is the Association of Bay Area Governments. ACCMA is the Alameda County Congestion Management Agency. MTC is the Metropolitan Transit Commission.)
Doug Buckwald is a longtime Berkeley resident who regularly rides AC Transit, BART, and SF Muni.