Ashby Station Meeting 02

Tuesday is the second meeting on plans to modernize Ashby Station. I posted some thoughts on that meeting here and here, but never got around to sharing what I think the priorities should be. In that first post I mentioned that Fight Blight had a good rundown of existing conditions and some recommended improvements. I hope to make it to the meeting tomorrow, and afterwards I'll post my thoughts and have some suggestions on how BART should proceed.

1 comment:

Eric said...

I think BRT as implemented in Curitiba is brilliant, but I am also very skeptical of the AC Transit proposal. I didn't know about the AC Transit proposal until I stumbled upon the A Better Oakland blog two days ago, so besides what I have read there and on the AC Transit website, I admit I don't know all the details.

What I find most off putting is the cost. In Curitiba, one of the chief planning dictates is cheapness. The AC Transit BRT proposal has an estimated cost of $250 million. To put this in perspective, this is almost equivalent to the entire annual budget for AC Transit, and about 13 times the annual amount spent on capital improvements. To spend this amount on one bus line when the rest of the system is suffering from route closures and poor service is ludicrous.

One of the other design features of the transport system in Curitiba is that it is a comprehensive system which provides reliable point to point transport throughout the region. Besides the express buses which use the trinary road system (what AC Transit is calling 'BRT'), there are eight other types of routes including feeder lines, inter-neighborhood routes, and even inter-hospital buses. The entire system is designed to work efficiently as a whole. Express buses are a part of it, but the system would not work without the other parts also working efficiently.

The AC Transit system becomes less comprehensive each year. Until several years ago, there was a bus stop two blocks from my house and I would often take the bus. That route was closed due to budget constraints, and the nearest bus stop was then about 0.25 of a mile from my house. I still rode the bus, but less often. Now the nearest bus stop is 0.8 of a mile from my house, and because of this and other route closures it takes me an hour and twenty minutes to go by bus the five miles from my house to work. Or it would if I ever rode the bus. From talking to others, this is a pretty common experience. At this point AC Transit only seems to be working for the people who live along a still existing route and travel that route without having to change buses, or for those without other options.

AC Transit really needs to concentrate money and attention on improving the entire system before spending a quarter of a billion dollars on a 'Moon Shot' or 'Hail Mary Pass'. Ideas like moving pament off the bus across the system would shave a few minutes off every route, allowing resources to be redeployed to new routes or increase frequency on existing routes. This is the type of incremental change that isn't as glamourous as BRT, but yields big improvements for the investment.