Sunday, June 03, 2007

Sierra Club Endorses BRT

Last week, the Northern Alameda County Group of the Sierra Club voted unanimously to adopt a resolution supporting Bus Rapid Transit, including dedicated transitways and proof of payment.



--The Sierra Club has long sought to reduce the environmental, social, and economic costs associated with overdependence on automobiles for transportation.

--Public transit, walking, and bicycling trips can often substitute for some automobile trips.

--AC Transit has proposed a Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) project along a corridor including Telegraph Avenue and International Boulevard extending between 15 and 17 miles between Berkeley and San Leandro. The Sierra Club strongly supports the project's goals to: (1) improve transit service and better accommodate existing bus ridership; (2) increase transit ridership by
providing a viable and competitive alternative to private automobile travel; (3) improve and maintain the efficiency of transit service delivery; and (4) support local and regional goals to enhance transit-oriented development.

--UC Berkeley is planning to expand its workforce by approximately 4,000 more employees and 4,000 more students by 2020, and ABAG predicts significant population growth in the Bay Area over the same time frame. As one mitigation of the environmental impact of its projected population growth, UC Berkeley stated in the final EIR of its 2020 Long Range Development Plan (LRDP) that it will defer 500 of the 2,300 net new parking spaces proposed in the draft 2020 LRDP until after 2020 if a route is approved and construction begins on the AC Transit Bus Rapid Transit/Telegraph project by January 2010.

--The Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory's own LRDP projects the addition of 1,000 employees by 2025 who could also use BRT to get to work.

--In its Draft Environmental Impact Report (DEIR) for the project, AC Transit predicts that the proposed service, which is to run on dedicated bus lanes (described in the EIR as "transitways") along much of its length, will attract thousands of passengers every week who would otherwise drive.

--The BRT system stations will be designed to attract users making trips on foot within 1/4 mile of stations. Localities can work with AC Transit to locate stops where neighborhood service uses are already located or could be located, thus encouraging more non-automobile trips.

Therefore, be it resolved that:

--The Sierra Club strongly supports AC Transit's overall objective of implementing high level bus rapid transit (BRT) improvements along an approximately 17-mile corridor connecting the cities of Berkeley, Oakland, and San Leandro.

--With regard to key points in the DEIR, the Sierra Club affirms that the fullest possible implementation of the transitways and proof of payment (prepayment of fares that will eliminate the need for drivers to collect fares at each bus stop) will be critically important to the project's success.

--In the interest of best serving the needs of the community and of merchants and neighbors along the proposed BRT route, the Sierra Club will continue to study the DEIR and observe the public review process in order to determine at a later date whether or not the Club should take a position on the specific route choices and alternatives presented in the DEIR.


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