Saturday, February 03, 2007

Friends of BRT is Being Noticed

The following article is from the Berkeley Daily Planet of Friday, February 2, 2007.

Friends of BRT is making an impression on people. That's a good beginning. We will have even more work to do after the AC Transit EIR for the BRT project is released. That is expected to happen very soon.


A Close Look at Downtown Transportation Options
By Riya Bhattacharjee (02-02-07)

Berkeley’s Transportation Commission joined the Downtown Area Plan Advisory Committee (DAPAC) on Wednesday to talk about transportation conditions in downtown Berkeley and explore options for transportation improvements.

Transportation consultants for the Downtown Area Plan, the IBI Group, highlighted the challenges and some of the information pertinent to the downtown plan.

Matt Taecker, secretary to DAPAC, along with the IBI Group, explained the role of transportation modeling and how it would be used to understand the impacts of lower- and higher-intensity land use options. Alternative configurations of roadways and transit facilities were also examined.

DAPAC members and transportation commissioners gave their opinions on the options that should be modeled and voted against a plan to run Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) on Oxford Street.

AC Transit’s proposed BRT project, promising to make Berkeley a “green” city on “the cutting edge of new transportation technologies,” has yet to finalize the routing and design of BRT.

The rapid buses would serve passengers traveling between Bayfair, Downtown Oakland, and Downtown Berkeley along East 14th/International Blvd., and Telegraph Avenue.

“BRT should be an effort to make transit better for people, so that more people use it. It should not be a attempt to keep people out of downtown, like some people want to do to the homeless,” said Transportation Commissioner Rob Wrenn.

DAPAC member Juliet Lamont said that incorporating the use of greenery downtown into the transportation plans was extremely important.

Len Conly, co-chair of Friends of BRT—an organization that was formed in 2005 in order to support AC Transit’s BRT project—spoke in favor of BRT.

“A BRT system, such as that proposed for Telegraph Avenue, uses dedicated lanes, multiple door loading, and off-board payment of fares to make bus travel much faster and more convenient, especially for the disabled. BRT will help reduce congestion, oil consumption, pollution and carbon dioxide emissions,” Conly said.

The boards also voted to approve the option of two-way traffic on the west side of Shattuck Avenue and consider options for the east side of Shattuck.

Taecker told the board members that transportation modeling helped illustrate “how downtown Berkeley’s transportation system functions today, and how it might function in the future.”

He added that staff would present results of the transportation modeling to both boards in April so that DAPAC could have an informed deliberation on “preferred” options in May.

The transportation modeling would be responsible for measuring:

• Quantity and distribution of trips (origins and destinations)

• Mode split of trips (autos, transit, walking and bikes)

• Traffic performance (intersection volume & capacity)

• Other performance issues, including those related to parking.

Taecker told board members that parking-related conditions would be discussed in a future joint meeting. A representative from AC Transit told board members that AC Transit would be releasing its draft EIR for the BRTproject very soon.

Some of the highlights in the study presented by the IBI Group illustrated that downtown Berkeley attracted nearly 10,000 work-related trips daily with downtown residents generating approximately 1,000 work-based daily trips

UC Berkeley generated approximately 30,000 daily trips, of which roughly half were work related. The study also showed that BART accounted for 22,000 of the 40,000 daily transit trips (work and non-work) to and from downtown.


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