Sunday, November 05, 2006

Support for BRT from the East Bay Bicycle Coalition

The following article is reprinted with permission from the October 2006 issue of RideON, the newsletter of the East Bay Bicycle Coalition.

Telegraph Bus Rapid Transit Project

Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) is proposed to link the East Bay’s most heavily used bus corridor. The project is designed to serve Berkeley,Oakland, and San Leandro by operating from downtown Berkeley to Bayfair BART and Mall along Telegraph Avenue, International Boulevard and East 14th Street.

What is BRT?

BRT is a new and cost-effective way of providing high-quality transit service with buses. The buses operate primarily in bus-only transit lanes with light rail-like service characteristics and station spacing. Traffic signals are modified giving buses priority, helping them move more quickly and reliably. BRT stations are similar to light rail stations, each with a boarding platform, shelter, proof-of-payment ticket validation, ticket vending machines, security features, and real-time vehicle arrival information. BRT is much less expensive than light rail to construct and operate and retains the flexibility to operate in conventional traffic lanes.

BRT and the Community

• Improved Travel Times - Current bus trips from Downtown Oakland to UCB that take 25 to 30 minutes will average 15 to20 minutes.

• Improved Transit Reliability - The ability to operate in bus-only lanes reduces the unpredictability of typical city traffic.

• Increased Transit Usage – Projections show weekday ridership would increase 35%.

• Improved Quality of Life – Automobile dependence leads to residential and commercial corridors typically forsaken bypassing motorists. Improved transit service makes the community more attractive to new development and brings aboutmore opportunities to meet the community’s current housing and retail needs. Bicyclists and BRT

BRT buses running in bus-only lanes in the center of the roadway reduce the busbike conflicts inherent on traditional bus routes.

BRT does not create hazardous rail track crossings that cause solo diversion crashes.

BRT’s increased service frequency and faster travel may attract additional bikeon-bus passengers for medium-distancetrips. Bicyclists traditionally eschew waiting for buses for shorter trips in favor of pedaling. Most current bike-on-bus tripsinvolve transbay travel; longer express bus trips; access to destinations that involve steep climbs; or emergency travel necessitated by inclement weather, bike breakdowns, or situations like getting caught out after dark without lights.

• With BRT stations spaced farther apart, the bicycle becomes relatively better suited than walking for some passengersto access transit.

• How the BRT buses and elevated platforms at stations will accommodate loading bicycles on-board buses or bus racksremains uncertain.

• Not all bicyclists will need to travel with their bike on-board a bus rack. Making a secure bicycle storage option available atall BRT stations, such as the BikeLink eLockers, would help appeal to existing bicyclists and help lure motorists fromcars to convenient bike-bus trips.

• Bicyclists benefit from increased room on popular arterials where parking is removed (no door zone!) and faster implementation of the stalled Telegraph Avenue bike lanes with Federal monies.

• Improved signal interconnection, reduced speeding, better lighting, more shopping opportunities and increased foot trafficwill enhance traffic safety, personal security and the make opportunities to create bicycle-friendly communities on BRTcorridors.

BRT An Election Issue

In the District 7 Berkeley City Council race, BRT has become a major campaign issue. George Beier has launched a well-funded challenge to the incumbent (and bicycle-advocate) Kris Worthington. Beier is President of the Willard Neighborhood Association and has made opposition to BRT (and the Southside Plan) a cornerstone of his campaign.


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