AC Transit Mess: the $450,000,000 BRT delusion of grandeur meets the $10,000,000 annual operating budget deficit. Oops. As Gary Larson's brilliant cartoons used to say, "trouble ahead..."
by James K. Sayre
Mr. AC Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) plan, may I introduce you to Mr. AC Annual Operating Budget Deficit? It seems that with the discovery of an annual operating budget deficit for AC Transit of almost ten million dollars, that cooler heads are finally beginning to have their doubts about this notion of "bus rapid transit," planned to run from Berkeley down to San Leandro, running parallel to the existing BART (Bay Area Rapid Transit) line in the same area.
First, the notion of a bus system that operates on city streets as somehow being "rapid" is absurd on its face. If buses speed on city streets, they will be a serious threat to the health and safety of pedestrians, children, old people, pets, squirrels, birds, insects, bicyclists and motorists alike. The terms, "bus rapid transit" truly constitute an oxymoron, when combined.
Second, what is the sense having AC Transit trying to duplicate the existing BART rapid transit service; BART trains can actually go 75 or 80 mph between stations on their dedicated train tracks. (I know this from riding in the front of BART trains when they first opened some thirty-five years ago.) There is no way that buses operating on crowded narrow city streets can duplicate those speeds.
Third, AC Transit planners should give up on their delusional dream of tearing up Telegraph Avenue in Berkeley and creating two bus-only lanes and thus forcing car drivers to ride the bus by producing local gridlock in the downtown areas. Can't you transit planners just wait until gasoline hits ten dollars a gallon?
Fourth, maybe AC Transit should take a break from their endless "planning." Why does everything have to be constantly growing and expanding? Alameda County and Contra Costa County are not expanding, at least in terms of land area. It seems to me that "transit planners" are basically bureaucratic troublemakers, who can't seem to leave well enough alone. If it ain't broke, don't fix it. How many millions of dollars each year could AC Transit save by laying off all their planning staff?
Fifth, maybe AC Transit count simply concentrate on running their present bus lines, without any changes. Just keep the present bus fleet mechanically tuned up and run as per the schedule. No worries, mate.
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Web page last updated on 24 Septem ber 2009.