Public Comment

Rapid Bus Plus is the Best Alternative to Bus Rapid Transit

By Vincent Casalaina
Tuesday April 27, 2010 - 08:15:00 AM

Rapid Bus Plus (RB+) is Berkeley's answer to the environmental disaster that is Bus Rapid Transit(BRT). The RB+ Coalition has been working on this plan since AC Transit's Draft EIRs came out and it became clear that the number of new transit riders on BRt would be negligible and the reduction in greenhouse gases with BRT would be miniscule. We believe that RB+ will provide 80% of the projected benefits of BRT for 20% of the cost and virtually none of the detriments. Beyond that, RB+ can be implemented immediately with the current funds AC Transit has on hand. We don't need to wait another 5 years, or longer, for BRT to be fully funded. We need better public transit today! 

"Friends of BRT" and TRANSFORM have been frantically trying to rouse supporters of BRT, encouraging people from Oakland and other East Bay cities to come and speak to the Berkeley City Council on Thursday night when a vote on Berkeley's Locally Preferred Alternative will be taken. They are frantic because they've seen their support erode both on the Council and in the audience - of the 52 speakers at last week's Council meeting, fewer than 5 spoke in favor of BRT. They see that a strong turn out by supporters of Rapid Bus Plus could tip the scales for an environmentally friendly solution to AC Transits problems. 

If you believe that there must be a better solution to Berkeley's public transit problems than dedicating 2 lanes of traffic from the Oakland border to downtown Berkeley so a bus can use the lane every 7 1/2 minutes, then I urge you to come on Thursday night and stand with the Rapid Bus Plus Coalition. We have the opportunity to make Rapid Bus Plus Berkeley's only Locally Preferred Alternative and say goodbye to dedicated lanes once and for all.  

We know Rapid Bus plus is Berkeley's locally preferred alternative because its been endorsed by many of the southside neighborhoods and at all of the neighborhood and stakeholder meetings that were held last summer and fall. Not a single one of the meetings had a majority in favor of BRT and most had overwhelming opposition to BRT. 

Here are 6 reasons why Rapid Bus Plus should be Berkeley's only locally preferred alternative: 


1) Rapid Bus Plus allows current, and future, state and federal funding to spread these benefits of Rapid Bus Plus’ enhanced service throughout the AC Transit system.  

A) Expand signal priority, systemwide 

B) Implement Proof-of-Payment (PoP) through standard means that can scale systemwide 

C) Provide real-time arrival information systemwide, both high- and low-tech:  

D) Provide signal coordination/signal actuation at smaller arterial intersections systemwide 

E) Provide “far side” bus stops systemwide  


2) Rapid Bus Plus maintains local bus service.  


3) Rapid Bus Plus maximizes environmental benefits.  

A) Use the smallest buses that will accommodate expected passenger loads 

B) Prioritize cleaner buses  

C) Adopt cleaner fuels 


4) Rapid Bus Plus increase both the speed of the bus and schedule reliability.  

A) Split the 1R/1 route back into 2 segments to avoid choke points. 

B) Use phased traffic signals, and queue jump lanes, at appropriate chokepoint intersections. 


5) Rapid Bus Plus means we build as little as possible – no dedicated lanes or massive stations in the middle of Telegraph Ave. and other major arterials.  


6) Rapid Bus Plus provides level or near-level boarding at curbside.  


The Rapid Bus Plus Coalition has worked with Berkeley's Transportation Dept. staff and with the Cambridge Systematics consultants to develop a transit proposal that meets Berkeley's needs and is buildable for a fraction of the cost of BRT. The Planners made sure that the elements of Rapid Bus Plus were ready to be tested. Don't be fooled by those who say that Rapid Bus Plus is not a real system - take the word of the planners who know better. 

Come to the Council meeting this Thursday night at 7pm. The vote on the Locally Preferred Alternative is the only thing on the agenda. Make sure your councilperson knows what you want Berkeley's public transit to look like.