Public Comment

New: A.C. Transit vs. the People of Berkeley, Again

By Russ Tilleman
Monday November 25, 2013 - 10:06:00 PM

AC Transit is at it again. After failing in 2010 to force their ill-conceived Bus Rapid Transit project on the citizens of Berkeley, now they are trying to damage Berkeley again. This time they want to:

1) Cut down mature trees on College Avenue 2) Remove a lot of badly-needed parking on University Avenue 3) Add new traffic lights that will speed up vehicles driving through residential neighborhoods 4) Make bike lanes significantly narrower and more dangerous 5) Move speeding buses closer to pedestrians and bicyclists 6) Move around or completely eliminate existing bus stops

Worst of all, these permanent disruptions to AC Transit riders and City of Berkeley residents don't seem to be motivated by any desire to increase ridership. I didn't see any projections in AC Transit's plan that even one car might be removed from the road.

AC Transit's plan seems to boil down to "if the bus doesn't have to stop to pick people up or drop them off, it can go faster." By that logic, the best way to improve service would be to remove all the bus stops so the buses could drive as fast as possible. Too bad that wouldn't leave any time for passengers to get on or off the bus! 

This appears to be just another attempt by AC Transit to arbitrarily change things to look like they are doing something productive. If this wouldn't damage Berkeley and the people who live here, I wouldn't object very much. But these plans will result in harm to the people of Berkeley. 

In addition to the problems I listed above, I have a personal reason to criticize this plan. AC Transit wants to relocate an existing bus stop to within about 50 feet of my house, greatly increasing the noise I will hear. Since I am disabled and it is essential for me to do things like get enough sleep, the unrelenting noise from the screeching brakes and the very loud automated voice announcement of the PARKER STREET stop will be harmful to my health over the decades that I can expect to be exposed to it. 

This new bus stop appears to offer absolutely no benefit to this neighborhood, absolutely no benefit to the citizens of Berkeley, absolutely no benefit to the people who ride AC Transit, absolutely no benefit to the environment, and absolutely no benefit to AC Transit. In view of the irreparable harm to my health likely to result from its construction, I feel that the City should not grant AC Transit permission to make this change. 

It is the duty of the City of Berkeley to look out for the citizens who live here and who pay for the very generous salaries, health care, and retirement benefits of the City employees. It is not the duty of the City of Berkeley to give AC Transit special permission to harm those citizens on a whim, for no constructive purpose. 

After I became disabled, I moved to Berkeley partly because of the City's history of respect for the disabled. I do not know if the City still has respect for disabled people or whether the employees of the City have respect for disabled people, but if they do, they will not grant permission to AC Transit to victimize any disabled residents, including me. 

I'm hoping the City of Berkeley will protect the people who live here from this reckless and irresponsible plan. I recently sent a letter to the City of Berkeley about this situation, and my physician is also writing a letter to the City on my behalf. 

The issue is coming up for a City Council vote in a couple of months. We'll see what happens.