Posts Tagged ‘BRT’

You Are Doing It Wrong

The whole point of BRT is to encourage pedestrian-scale development. If your new BRT busway requires cross streets to be closed, then you are doing it wrong:

In an abrupt reversal, the city has dropped all opposition to closing Flower Street to accommodate the New-Britain-to-Hartford busway. Mayor Pedro Segarra’s decision came after weeks of behind-the-scenes negotiations between city officials and aides to Gov. Dannel P. Malloy, who is committed to drive the busway to completion by early 2015.

The decision cuts off what shaped up to be a struggle over the future of Flower Street, a short north-south street that links the city’s Frog Hollow and Asylum Hill neighborhoods. Neighborhood groups were counting on the city to block the state transportation department from shutting off pedestrian and bike access, and appeared angered after the city pulled out of the fight.

A state hearing officer this month will decide whether the Department of Transportation may permanently keep bicyclists and pedestrians from crossing Flower Street between Farmington and Capitol avenues. The DOT says it will be too dangerous for anyone to cross two lanes of busway traffic alongside the Amtrak line, and instead has built a pathway to detour Flower Street riders and walkers to Broad Street.

Broad Street isn’t much of an alternative. It is a high-speed arterial for accessing interstate-84. Though I suppose it is better than this monstrosity:


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Costly BRT

Here is the cost breakdown of the proposed BRT network in Santa Clara County:

As you can see from the chart, this is fake BRT because there is only a small bit of dedicated bus lanes. But even that small bit is going to cost a huge amount: 1/4 billion dollars for a just 4.87 miles of dedicated bus lanes. One main reason for the cost blowout is an unwillingness to reduce any parking or automobile capacity — meaning the road gets widened in numerous places.

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It is nice to know that America isn’t the only country afflicted with selfish car drivers:

The Delhi High Court on Thursday modified its earlier order and directed the Transport Department of the Delhi Government to allow vehicles other than buses to ply in the 5.7-km-long Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) corridor between Ambedkar Nagar and Moolchand flyover in South Delhi till the petition seeking opening up the corridor for three-wheelers and four-wheelers on a permanent basis was decided.

The petitioner has sought permission for plying of other vehicles in the corridor arguing that while the carriageway along the corridor got jammed in busy hours due to shrinkage of its width due to the carving out of space for the bus corridor, the exclusive stretch for the bus transport always had empty space to accommodate more traffic.

As the NY Times notes, fewer than 20% of Delhi residents travel by private auto.

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Mountain View Votes Against BRT

Two years ago, Berkeley sabotaged a BRT plan in the East Bay. Now, will Mountain View be the South Bay version of Berkeley?

The [Mountain View] City Council spent two and half hours discussing a plan for dedicated bus rapid transit lanes on El Camino Real on Tuesday, coming to the same position it came to after a similar discussion in June — opposed. The council took a 4-2 vote in the study session, with council members Mike Kasperzak and Margaret Abe-Koga in support of the dedicated lanes and member John Inks abstaining.

The plans would reduce El Camino Real from six lanes to four, and add two dedicated bus lanes down the middle of the street and bike lanes on each side. With two bus stations located on the median, one at Castro Street and one at San Antonio shopping center, BRT buses would run every 10 minutes, 18 hours a day.

Plans for BRT on El Camino Real are part of an ambitious “Grand Boulevard” effort. It would convert the highway from a  automobile strip-mall thoroughfare into a more bike/ped friendly environment. The bike and bus lanes are projected to quadruple the number of bike trips, and generate 18,000 new transit trips. BRT would also serve as a feeder to Caltrain and any future HSR stations.

But Council seems to have other priorities, and is more concerned with maintaining the route for high-speed auto traffic.

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Back in 1997 when work began on the Southside Plan, many had high hopes to reverse mistakes of the past. This is a student-dominated neighborhood, where 70% of residents don’t even own cars. Reverting 1-way high-speed arterials back to 2-way neighborhood streets was a no-brainer. Building a bike network was also a no-brainer too.

But then a funny thing happened. As the Plan dragged on and on for the better part of two decades, the transit, bike, and ped elements are all but eliminated. And so now in reading the Plan that Council adopted last week, it is hard to find any changes at all.

For example: Dwight and Haste are retained as 1-way speedways, though the study suggests Bancroft and Durant be “considered” for 2-way operation (planners use the word “considered” to mean “nice idea, but won’t happen”). Similarly, the bike network is largely unchanged. Don’t expect to find bike lanes on Telegraph, Bancroft, or Piedmont Ave.

The only positive aspect of the Plan is conversion of Dana and Ellsworth back to 2-way operation with bike lanes. These are relatively short segments in residential blocks. Nobody should mistake this for bold thinking.

The Plan also uses extravagant language to promote AC Transit and other transit services. But then Council killed the AC Transit BRT, making nonsense of the Plan’s transit goals too.

So there you have it: 15 years of planning to come up with a do-nothing option.

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That’s One Expensive Bus

The whole point of BRT is the lower cost, right? Hartford, CT just received FTA New Starts funding for a BRT system.

The capital cost is $572 million for all of 9.4 miles.

Oh, did I mention it is to run on an abandoned rail ROW?

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One of the quirks of Berkeley City government is its 35 citizen commissions. They advise City Council on topics ranging from foreign policy to waste management. As in every other budget cycle, staff is recommending some commissions be eliminated to save time and money. With the severe economic downturn, staff may get their wish:

The cost to run the commissions: $1 million a year, [City Manager] Kamlarz estimated in 2008. Meanwhile the city is looking to mend a $12 million deficit, mulling cuts in police, libraries, public works and virtually every other department. The City Council is likely to discuss cutting some commissions in May.

If there is one Committee deserving elimination, it is Berkeley’s “Community Environmental Advisory Committee”. Three years ago, as the City was studying BRT, this group of concerned environmentalists passed a resolution to oppose the BRT project. They sent a sternly-worded letter to Council expressing their disapproval. Buses, in their view were polluting, and would threaten the safety of bicyclists! (never mind the BRT project included Class II bike lanes).

Really, what else is there to say? When a taxpayer-funded “environmental” commission favors automobiles over buses, favors automobiles over bike lanes, it loses all credibility.

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