Public Comment

Measure KK is Pro-Transit

By Bruce Kaplan
Thursday October 02, 2008 - 09:38:00 AM

Bus Rapid Transit cheerleaders such as Robb Wren, Alan Tobey and Charles Siegel would have you believe that Measure KK and its proponents are anti-transit. They’re wrong. We put Measure KK on the ballot because we care deeply about transit, and want to see bus service improvement done right. 

We believe its possible to have good public transit in Berkeley. That’s why we, Berkeleyans for Better Transit Options, are supporting the implementation of Rapid Bus Plus. And after a series of discussions with neighborhood association representatives, AC Transit has finally agreed to study this option as part of its planning process. Most importantly, Rapid Bus Plus can be accomplished without the detriments associated with dedicated bus lanes on our city streets. 

Here’s a fact BRT supporters won’t tell you. The current BRT proposal cuts local service. Is this better transit? Not if you ask bus riders! Rather, it’s another example of why we need a formal mechanism to insure that the real needs of Berkeley residents are addressed in any transit solution that is adopted by the city. 

Measure KK proponents believe transit should be green. We believe that good transit planning should reduce green house gas emissions. Our opponents are right when they report that 81 percent of Berkeley voters want Berkeley to do everything in its power to lower our carbon footprint. 

That’s why we oppose BRT as currently proposed. AC Transit’s own draft environmental impact report makes it clear that if BRT goes ahead as planned, there will be no significant reduction in noxious gasses and no fuel savings! 

Its not enough to say “Public transit is green.” AC Transit and the City of Berkeley have a responsibility to propose a plan that actually is green. And to that end, we have submitted specific suggestions in our Rapid Bus Plus proposal (see 

Opponents say that Measure KK will cost the city money. Indeed, the city has cut corners and short-changed the transit planning, design and public input process. So, yes, it may cost more to design a system that has broad public support and actually works. But the resulting system will serve the city better, and provide more value to residents and other users. And if Rapid Bus Plus is adopted, it will actually cost less than BRT to implement. 

I know that most of the city’s political have elite come out against the measure. Berkeley politics, including some of the well-respected but misguided endorsing organizations are driven by a small group of over the top idealogues that simply care more for their agenda than what’s best for Berkeley. That’s why they’ll cut down trees to put up buildings and call it Green!  

Meanwhile, the key Berkeley neighborhood organizations have formally endorsed Measure KK: CENA, Willard, Le Conte and Northeast Berkeley, the Council of Neighborhood Associations (CNA). These organizations represent the folks that actually live here in Berkeley. They understand how detrimental the presently proposed plan would be if allowed to go forward. 

We believe that Berkeley voters know best. It’s worth noting that when the politicians wanted to run the BART trains on elevated tracks through Berkeley, the city’s voters made the heroic choice to bury the tracks and keep our city from being divided. If we’d left it up to the politicians and engineers, we’d look just like Albany and El Cerrito. 

Chances are, we’ll live with these transit decisions for decades. We have to get it right! Vote for Measure KK and let voters have the final say about how transit is implemented in our city.  

Bruce Kaplan is a co-proponent of Measure KK.