BRT IN NEVERLAND
Editors, Daily Planet:
It must be fun to live in Neverland, where just wishing something is true will make it so.
Steve Geller, in his latest letter to the Planet, asserts that “BRT will definitely reduce greenhouse gas emissions.” While this may be literally true, Mr. Geller for some reason ignores the fact that the projected “reduction” is vanishingly small. BRT is projected to reduce a mix of six air pollutants by 0.03 percent. That’s not 3 percent; it’s three-hundredths of one percent.
The reason the projected reduction in pollutants is so minuscule is because BRT is projected to attract so few additional transit riders. The BRT draft EIR—and AC Transit’s subsequent studies for the federal Small Starts application—project approximately 9,000 new transit boardings per day if BRT is built. 9,000 sounds like a large number until you know that even without BRT, transit boardings in 2015 are projected to be 585,000. In other words, even the most successful of the BRT alternatives that were studied would increase East Bay transit ridership by only 1.5 percent.
Mr. Geller also states that “No riders will be poached from BART.” Once again, I don’t know where Mr. Geller is getting his information. In the studies that were done for the draft EIR, the most successful BRT alternative is projected to reduce BART ridership by 6,000 boardings per day—a reduction of about 1.5 percent.
BRT proponents like to pretend that BRT opponents are anti-bus or anti-public transit. Nothing could be further from the truth. Everyone I know who opposes the current BRT proposal is an environmentalist, a transit user, or both. We also, however, have our feet firmly planted in reality, not in Neverland. I don’t oppose spending $250,000,000 on public transit. I just want some meaningful results for this huge investment. Both the BRT draft EIR and AC Transit’s federal Small Starts application document a project which is long on good intentions and very short on actual results. Can Mr. Geller, or anyone else, point me toward a study of this particular BRT project which paints a different picture?
FUDGING BRT DATA
Editors, Daily Planet:
At the Transportation Commission meeting of Nov. 19 on Bus Rapid Transit (BRT), Commissioner Seth Goddard submitted an October 2009 article from Metro Magazine, “Cleveland’s BRT hits one-year anniversary,” with glowing claims of improved service on the route. Cleveland’s BRT, very similar to the local BRT proposal, opened Oct. 24, 2008 as the “HealthLine,” replacing the No. 6 bus on Euclid Avenue.
Apparently quoting the Greater Cleveland Regional Transit Authority (RTA) deputy general manager, the article claims that ridership on the HealthLine has vastly increased compared to the same months in 2008: “In March  for example, HealthLine ridership topped 335,000—a 75 percent increase over the 228,000 riders on the No. 6 bus the previous year.”
Having studied Cleveland’s Euclid corridor bus service, I have some statistics about the No. 6 bus. On July 18, 2008, Jerry Masek, Media Relations Manager for the RTA wrote: “The HealthLine will replace the No. 6 route, which serves more than 11,000 riders a day.”
So the No. 6 bus had more than 11,000 riders per day in 2008. March has 31 days. Unless March was an anomaly in that particular year, the No. 6 bus would have had approximately 341,000 riders in that month. Where did the claim of 228,000 riders come from? My guess is that, like many claims from transit agency spokespersons, it came out of thin air.
Even if the figures of 335,000 riders for the HealthLine versus 228,000 for the No. 6 bus one year earlier were true, that would be far from a 75 percent increase—it would be less than a 50 percent increase. This would appear to be a gratuitous exaggeration on top of a deliberate untruth.
After years of studying the local BRT proposal, and months of studying Cleveland’s HealthLine BRT, I have come to the conclusion that transit spokespersons are employed as paid prevaricators.
AC Transit really is planning to take over two lanes of traffic on Telegraph Avenue, and most of the parking, while eliminating the local bus service. If this doesn’t sound like a good idea, attend the Planning Commission meeting on Dec. 9 at 7 p.m., at the North Berkeley Senior Center—and voice your opinion.
ACCURATE BRT MAPS?
Editors, Daily Planet:
During the meetings called for by city staff to promote the BRT, Berkeley city staff showed a plan map of the BRT. The plan showed three lanes of traffic with one lane as the dedicated bus lane. At the start of the meetings, city staff stated that this plan would not eliminate vending spaces or loading zones on Telegraph between Dwight and Bancroft. The city staff bothered to draw a fraudulent map showing the three lanes of traffic not eliminating vending spaces, loading zones and the trees. This map is a fraud. There cannot be three lanes of traffic on Telegraph which must by interstate commerce law take up 14 feet each for a total of 42 feet of space and keep street vending space, loading zones, and the trees that line the avenue. There is only 28 feet of space in the two lanes that occupy Telegraph now. Either city staff is lying or they are incompetent to draw an accurate map of their plan. These people should be fired immediately and people hired that can draw an accurate map or not out and out lie.