Response to TransForm
I am a long time supporter of TransForm, in all of its iterations, and even served as the League of Women Voters of the Bay Area representative on the Transportation Choices Forum from which it sprang some 15 years ago.
Many individuals and organizations look to them to give a critical, professional, analysis of proposed transportation/land-use projects. And they certainly do for BART projects, which have regional visibility. But they have stubbornly clung to a center-running BRT, picked more than 10 years ago even though a less intrusive one, Curbside BRT, has been adopted in many cities and is even under study in San Francisco.
The Curbside BRT is more attractive and convenient for bus riders and they are, after all, suppose to be the main beneficiaries.
In a recent email TransForm claims if you oppose AC Transit’s center-running BRT you “want to protect current conditions for cars along the route.” I do not own a car; I am a bus rider, but I am not anti-car. Cars are a component of Complete Streets.
Many, if not most, of the strongest advocates for the center-running BRT are bike riders and the issue is often put in terms of bikes vs. autos.
It is clear from TransForm’s website that there is a safety problem with bus platforms isolated in the middle of traffic because they list six mitigations. Stations at sidewalk bulb-outs with pedestrian traffic do not need many safety devices.
Some statements on their website need clarification, namely:
1. “Curbside BRT” eliminates the possibiliy of bike lanes along the BRT route.
Indeed, I don’t understand how bike lanes could work with center-lane stations that remove the equivalent of three traffic lanes in a four-lane road. Where is there room for bikes in this scenario? I would like someone to show me. With Curbside BRT, bikes can ride in the dedicated curbside lane, albeit, a bus will take priority every 5 to 10 minutes.
Additionally even more parking would be removed than center running BRT, because Center-Running BRT has combined stations (where passengers going north or southbound wait together).
That is precisely why so much parking is lost and bikes are squeezed. As I say above, that is because center-lane stations remove the equivalent of three traffic lanes in a four-lane road. The FEIR states that 28% of parking would be lost and the only mitigation would be to add surface parking lots! Wouldn’t that be loverly! No parking need be removed for Curbside BRT because parking is already not allowed at bus stops for either Rapid bus at bulb-outs or local buses at existing curbs.
2. “Curbside BRT” still gets stuck behind commercial loading vehicles, double parked-cars, or cars making right-hand turns or parallel parking,
Both center-running and curbside BRT would be subject to delay by parallel parking cars, double parked cars, and commercial loading vehicles because there is only one mixed-flow lane and cars will use the dedicated lanes (which are not exclusive) to get around them. Curbside BRT buses could also use the mixed-flow lane to get around them but center-running ones would be stuck. And with Curbside, if it becomes a problem, a few parking spaces could be removed to accommodate right turns, and a few for a loading zone on some commercial blocks.
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I think what this says is that even people who have long advocated for BRT have little understanding of the nitty-gritty real on-ground impact the so-called LPA will have on bus riders, pedestrians, bike riders, drivers and, therefore, businesses on these commercial corridors.
There is a choice that will improve bus service with less impact on traffic and no loss of parking while providing significant pedestrian amenities at no cost to the city.
It was the lack of such a choice that drove Berkeley out of the process. I don’t want that to happen in Oakland.