Thursday, April 03, 2008

Berkeley Lecturer Emeritus W. Homburger in BDP

photo courtesy of ITS

W. Homburger's (Institute of Transportation Studies Lecturer Emeritus and former acting director) recent talk to the Berkeley City Commons Club was written up this week in the Berkeley Daily Planet. The topic concerned, among other things, the proposed Bus Rapid Transit (BRT)
designed to ease traffic issues in the San Francisco Bay Area's East Bay (most notably, for Berkeley residents, eliminating a lane on Telegraph Avenue for BRT operations). Homburger is skeptical of this project, noting that, despite his general support for some associated measures,
AC Transit wants to spend capital funds, which is money with a ribbon-cutting at the end. [...] When’s the last time you saw a ribbon-cutting for maintaining a building?
Homburger goes on to explain that more robust support from local citizens is necessary for the proper implementation of such a system. He is not without his critics, however. A blog entitled Friends of BRT Blog has written a recent post criticizing some of Prof. Homburger's thoughts on BRT in the East Bay (which came in the form of another article in BDP). Charles Siegel, of the Berkeley-based Preservation Institute, explains in the blog post that
Homburger claims that "loss of a pair of lanes on Telegraph will increase congestion and the anger of residents on parallel streets where backups are already formidable." In reality, the BRT project would actually reduce, not increase, the number of cars entering the neighborhood.

For example, AC Transit analysis forecasts that the number of vehicles traffic crossing a line just north of Ashby Avenue stretching from Sacramento Street to College Avenue during the afternoon peak hour in 2025 would be 15,400 without BRT and 14,900 with BRT - a decrease of 500 cars. In addition, AC Transit could provide traffic calming devices to protect residents of streets near the BRT line.
Of course the East Bay BRT project is still in its planning stages, so no commitment has been made one way or another by AC Transit on the matter. Information on the proposal can be found here.

-J. Chipman

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