Public Comment

BRT Won’t Work For Me

By Russ Tilleman
Thursday October 02, 2008 - 09:39:00 AM

Rob Wrenn’s Sept. 25 commentary “Why BRT Will Work” claims that Bus Rapid Transit is being built for the disabled. Well, I’m disabled, and I don’t ride the 1R bus, whose route BRT will follow, because it doesn’t go where I need to go. It must not go where anyone else needs to go either, because when I see a 1R bus drive by, it usually has between five and 10 people on it, whereas the capacity is around 100. 

I’d like to point out to Mr. Wrenn, too, that disabled people are not some kind of a commodity to be used for political purposes. Disabled people are regular people like everyone else, and they don’t ride the 1R bus either. Unless being invisible is a disability. It’s possible that the 1R bus is filled with invisible riders, for whom AC Transit intends to steal two lanes from Telegraph. Apparently, I am invisible to AC Transit. Their BRT website claims there have been “no significant negative impacts identified on the natural or socio-economic (e.g., business and residential) environment because of the BRT Project.” BRT will have a negative impact on my residential environment, to the point where I may be forced to move. The increased noise and pollution inside my home from BRT may aggravate my health problems, which is why I am opposing BRT so strongly. It is very difficult for me to find a place to live that accommodates my disability, and I’ve been here for six years. Everything was fine until AC Transit decided to force several hundred more cars and trucks onto my street every day with BRT. 

Mr. Wrenn doesn’t refute AC Transit’s statement to the San Francisco Chronicle that BRT will increase greenhouse gases. Because it’s true. He doesn’t dispute that BRT will worsen service on the 51 bus line. Because it will. But he does point out that even building fuel-efficient cars produces greenhouse gases. Well, Rob, I have a news flash for you: Spending $400 million building BRT will produce a similar amount of greenhouse gases. Building anything uses resources, and producing those resources creates greenhouse gases. The difference between producing BRT and producing fuel-efficient cars is that fuel-efficient cars will at least reduce the day-to-day production of greenhouse gases, and BRT will increase it. 

Finally, I’d like to point out to Mr. Wrenn that government mandated abstinence programs don’t work. Trying to prevent people from driving their cars by complicating access to the roads won’t work any better than trying to prevent people from having sex by complicating access to birth control and abortion. “Just say no to cars” doesn’t work and it won’t accomplish anything in the real world of climate change. We need projects that will actually provide some benefit. Simply wasting $400 million and claiming we’ve fixed the problem isn’t good enough. But then, Mr. Wrenn doesn’t seem to care about reality. BRT is about big money and politics; it doesn’t really have anything to do with public transit or the environment. I’m just trying to live here in Berkeley, and Mr. Wrenn doesn’t seem to care about that either. 

Russ Tilleman is a Berkeley resident.