In a late night vote on Thursday, the Berkeley City Council voted to support hybrid alternatives to AC Transit's Bus Rapid Transit proposal which eliminate dedicated bus lanes and bus boarding stations in the center of the street. According to AC Transit spokesperson Cory LaVigne this plan can’t be considered as part of the environmental impact study currently underway, making it effectively a "no build" alternative at this point.
But AC transit staff who attended the meeting told councilmembers that the alternative proposals, including the Reduced Impact Alternative advanced by Mayor Bates and Councilmembers Capitelli and Maio and the "Rapid Bus Plus" scheme hatched by a coalition of Berkeleyans including Michael Katz, Craig Becker and Vincent Casalaina, could not be included in the final environmental impact study since they had not been part of the draft study. The AC planners said that a parallel study of these alternatives could be done.
Councilmember Darryl Moore made a substitute motion to endorse studying the "full build", but it was rejected by a 4-2-2 vote.
Comments from many members of the public and by the council extended the meeting past 11 p.m.
The rumored blitz from construction union representatives didn't materialize.
Many of the speakers in favor of the full build alternative were students who wanted faster trips, while many opponents mentioned impacts on businesses and street vendors on Telegraph as well as hardships to senior and disabled users if local stops were eliminated as AC Transit's plan proposed.