Blogging Bayport Alameda

September 23, 2008

BRT primer

Filed under: Alameda, Transportation — Tags: — Lauren Do @ 7:00 am

There has been some discussion about the lack of viability of Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) in Alameda citing concerns that Berekley-ites have with the plans for an extensive East Bay BRT system.   One of the smartest bloggers I know is V Smoothe who writes A Better Oakland and she has tackled the issue of BRT thoroughly (albeit, snarkily, which makes her all the more entertaining to read)   She posted this BRT Q & A about a year ago to answer some of the contentions made by folks who posted response to an SF Gate article about BRT.   Highlights:

…Ah, the redundant of BART argument, very popular among the anti-BRT crowd, and also an immediate tip-off that the person speaking simply does not use public transit. BART follows a similar corridor only in the sense that it connects Berkeley and San Leandro through Oakland.

Dedicated lanes are not so buses can drag race – they will simply allow for consistent travel speeds and eliminate time wasted while the bus is stuck in traffic. A reliable corridor should theoretically ameliorate current problems with speeding buses, as they will not be compelled to floor it every time they get a chance trying to make up for time lost in traffic jams.

BRT produces a third of the CO2 emissions of light rail, and is considered by the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change and the Federal Transportation Authority to be the most environmentally friendly public transit solution.

…the Los Angeles’s Orange Line has vastly exceeded expectations. Within one year of operation, it met its ridership forecasts for 2020. It also reduced freeway congestion along the route. Rider surveys revealed that of Orange Line passengers, 17% had never used transit before, and 77% of those who had previously commuted via car said that BRT was faster.

In Oregon, Eugene-Springfield’s EmX Green Line opened in January, average weekday boardings along the route increased 70%, and broke system ridership records. Orlando’s Lynx Lymmo exceeded expectations as well, and increased boardings 33% over the previous route. The MAX in Kansas City ended a systemwide ridership decline since 2002, and increased ridership along the route by 40%. Pheonix’s RAPID is so successful that the city had to add more buses to the route. The Silver Line in Boston doubled ridership along the route in one year…

And if that wasn’t enough, she also wrote an article for Oakbook about BRT, which has much of the same information offered on her blog.   What would BRT look like in the East Bay, well this animation is supposed to recreate how it would work.

Also, as Mark Irons brought up, Curitiba, Brazil is world renowned for its extensive BRT system, earning it a spot in Ethisphere Magazine’s 2020 Global Sustainability Centers:


Curitiba is the largest sustainable city you’ve never heard of. The city has been planning for sustainable development since the 1960’s and in many ways has succeeded beyond the small towns of Europe (there are dozens of small European cities that have great sustainability programs). In fact, leaders from cities around the world, including Los Angeles, have consulted with Curitiba leaders to plan their own sustainable futures.


By and large the most unique aspect of Curitiba is its incredible bus system. Specially designed busses cover the entire city and are used by 85 percent of the population. On top of that, the city actively supports the influx of rural workers to the city by subsidizing affordable, unique-looking housing, not the cookie-cutter style common to affordable housing developments around the world.

What I think BRT is supposed to offer is not a silver bullet solution to regional traffic congestion issues, but another layer of choice for people who want to leave their cars behind.  One of the main complaints about public transportation is that it’s perceived as being too slow and that even sitting in traffic in your own car, you can get there (where ever “there” is) faster.  The BRT with its rapid loading system and dedicated lane is, ideally, supposed to make getting “there” quicker on public transportation thereby making it more attractive than solo driving.


  1. Sounds like a great Idea, I would like to see something similar from 12th street Bart to Alameda Point to Fruitvale BART. That uses Lincoln (formerly Railroad Ave) as Alameda’s Corridor.

    Comment by John — September 23, 2008 @ 9:32 am

  2. What is the entire proposed route for BRT in and out of Alameda? Is BRT going to require density greater than what exists right now along that route? Is AC going to create an animation to show us what that might look like in Alameda? Finally, was Telegraph a one way street in the animation link above?

    Comment by AD — September 23, 2008 @ 1:33 pm

  3. I am a big supporter of BRT, but as a complement to electric rail systems, not a replacement for them. The claim that BRT produces “a third of the CO2 emissions of light rail” really raised my eyebrows. The study cited there is from a advocacy group called the “Breakthrough Technologies Institute” (BTI), which is pushing for investments not only in BRT but also in hydrogen fuel cell technology.

    The BTI study itself uses national averages for electric rail ridership, power consumption, and pollution produced by electric generation, and it compares these to bus emissions calculated from laboratory tests. This type of analysis is overly simplistic, and overlooks the fact that electric rail vehicles can be powered from sources that have zero carbon emissions, such as wind, solar, geothermal, and hydroelectric. Only battery and fuel cell electric buses can achieve truly zero emissions, and neither is currently widely available in a form suitable for BRT.

    Even if battery and hydrogen buses do become commonplace, they will always consume more energy than rail vehicles because they must carry their power source and fuel with them instead of picking up power from a contact wire or rail, and because rubber tires will always have more rolling friction than steel wheels on steel rails.

    In particular, the use of hydrogen created from renewable sources is very problematic, as even this report the European Fuel Cell Forum admits:

    AC and DC power transmission technologies are available and working infrastructures already exist. Typically, the efficiency of electric power transmission is better than 90%.

    In contrast, the conversion of electric power into hydrogen energy and the distribution of hydrogen to the user are extremely inefficient. About 50% of the precious renewable electricity is lost. If hydrogen is re-converted to electricity with 50% efficient fuel cells, only 25% of the original electric energy will be available for practical use. This is a very poor alternative to direct energy transport by electrons through wires.

    To return to the specific comparison of BRT to electric rail transit, consider the following study, performed under the auspices of the Transportation Research Board (a research institution administered by the National Academy of Sciences, the National Academy of Engineering, and the Institute of Medicine). After a much more detailed comparison of the emissions from light rail transit (LRT) and BRT, the study concluded, “The analysis shows that whenever equal levels of technology are compared, LRT consistently performs better than BRT despite recent advances in the BRT mode. The analysis also shows that both modes are cleaner now than in the past.”

    Although a study with better methodology from an unbiased source reaches the opposite conclusion about BRT and emissions, I still think BRT has an important role to play. A well-used bus line is always a more energy-efficient way to transport people than private vehicles, regardless of the power sources. In an apples-to-apples comparison of private vehicles and buses running on fossil fuels, a well-used bus line will have lower carbon emissions than the private vehicles.

    Alameda may or may not have the potential ridership to support an electric rail system, but it already supports several well-used bus lines, and BRT would be a welcome improvement over today’s service.

    Comment by Michael Krueger — September 23, 2008 @ 1:47 pm

  4. Alameda may or may not have the potential ridership to support an electric rail system, but it already supports several well-used bus lines, and BRT would be a welcome improvement over today’s service.

    True if you are one of the bus riders. More than a super-majority of Alameda are not, and they would be “harmed” by BRT if auto lanes are lost to bus service.

    Let’s be democratic and vote on the BRT plan, and the TE plan, and development plans.

    Comment by David Kirwin — September 23, 2008 @ 2:37 pm

  5. I like how #4 put “harmed” in quotes. Seems like the “harm” is coming from the gas-guzzlers out there who choose *not* to use public transit.

    Comment by Bus-Riding Riff Raff — September 23, 2008 @ 7:27 pm

  6. I do not see how BRT provides any benefit to Alameda. We already have buses, how do the various bus doo-dads improve things? Perhaps a bus only lane leading up to and through /over the tubes and bridges would help, but how is that even feasible or enforced by the police?

    Comment by AlamedaNayTiff — September 23, 2008 @ 8:07 pm

  7. NYT article on Curtiba:

    Comment by alameda — September 23, 2008 @ 8:43 pm

  8. I referred to AC Transit’s site for info re BRT, given that the draft TE does not provide any specifics beyond a reference to dedicated lanes and wider turning radii. According to AC Transit, a BRT route should decrease travel time by ~20% over a rapid bus route and ~40% over a standard bus route. As an approximation:

    For the rapid bus (O bus in lieu): The O bus takes 15 minutes to travel 3 miles, from Encinal/Park Ave. to Atlantic/Webster St., so a 20% decrease = a time savings of 3 minutes, for a travel time of 12 minutes.

    For the local bus: The 51 bus takes 20 minutes to travel 3 miles, from Blanding/Broadway to Atlantic/Webster, so a 40% decrease = a time savings of 8 minutes, for a travel time of 12 minutes.

    I’ve read that AC Transit’s planned BRT from Berkeley to San Leandro should save about a minute per mile in travel time, consistent w/ the O bus comparison. AC Transit’s system would run from Telegraph Ave. to “downtown Oakland”, and then to International Blvd., so it seems likely that a BRT system here would connect to that.

    Link to BRT FAQs on AC Transit’s site, which includes the following excerpts:

    Stations: “BRT will have stations every one-third to at most one-half miles”.

    Speed: “Buses will be subject to the same speed limits as posted for existing traffic”.

    Street maintenance: “The on-going maintenance of the bus lane could potentially be funded … using federal and/or state transportation funding which in some cases is designated specifically for maintenance of “fixed guideways” such as dedicated bus lanes. Each city would be responsible for … the rest of the roadway …”

    Driving Time: “Will BRT mean that I have a longer drive along Telegraph and/or International? It could. BRT requires a transitway for safe and efficient operations. This means that the length of time driving along the route is expected to increase due to congestion and delay when a traffic lane in each direction is converted to BRT. However, this condition will not occur during all hours but primarily only during commute travel times-rush hour and peak shopping times.”

    Parking spaces: “Parking would be displaced at BRT stations and where left-turn lanes are added. … Parking is proposed to be replaced, either by constructing or funding the construction of new spaces or by converting currently unrestricted spaces to time-restricted spaces”.


    Additional info re parking: Opponents of BRT in Berkeley claim that “BRT would eliminate between 1,000 and 1,600 parking spaces along its entire route, including 75 percent of the parking on Telegraph between Dwight Way and the Berkeley border” and that some form of a rapid bus route would be an equivalent to BRT in time savings. Proponents of BRT claim that AC Transit will replace the parking, by a means to be specified in the final EIR.

    Comment by DL Morrison — September 23, 2008 @ 9:23 pm

  9. BR RR – Who is harming whom?

    According to the documents and studies accompanying the recent proposal for the TE, traffic at the tubes is already at capacity with approx 58,000 vehicles per day – the busiest sections of roadway in the city. How many bus riders are served by that roadway per day? What is the greater good?

    If you consider the cars as causing harm – how so? Sounds to me like your complaint should go to the PB & CC who allowed development that led to such heavy traffic congestion – Yes? Realize the truth “that which causes a problem, is a problem” – The main problem is the allowance of development for which we cannot provide efficient island ingress and egress. That is plain as day – sorry, but that is the reality of the present situation because of the way the island was laid out 100 years ago.

    The original BRT proposal as I understand it usurps 1 lane in each direction, as would the PRT plan. That is an absolutely ridiculous concept – taking 1/2 the vehicle lanes from an at capacity roadway? What do you call that if not “harm?”

    Now I believe BRT proponents are saying they will not request to dedicate one of the lanes for BRT, they just want queue-jumping lanes, and I guess transponders to control traffic signals. I think that would lead to all cars crowding to busses to take advantage of the same signal service. Wouldn’t this create a negative effect on safety?

    If you want to have an honest conversation, try using your real name for credibility.

    Comment by David Kirwin — September 23, 2008 @ 10:50 pm

  10. Alameda – can you post the article? I just finally got rid of all the NYT spam.

    Comment by dk — September 23, 2008 @ 10:53 pm

  11. #8
    “How many bus riders are served by that roadway per day? What is the greater good?”

    A lot of the Alameda buses go through the tube: 51, O, W, 63, 19. I don’t know the exact number, but it is thousands of people a day. Quite often there are a row of buses heading up Webster.
    Without those buses, traffic would be much worse.

    Comment by AlamedaNayTiff — September 24, 2008 @ 5:35 am

  12. ANT – ompare that to the users of the 58,ooo daily vehicles – How many busses?

    Comment by dk — September 24, 2008 @ 6:36 am

  13. Alameda will be best served by a dense network of cheap small buses within town, connecting to the regional network outside, rather than one big long fast line cutting through town. Maybe it’s time for a municipal bus company. AP&T (Alameda Power and Transportation). Should of course be electric. Let Suncal invest their transportation funds in that.

    Comment by AD — September 24, 2008 @ 9:35 am

  14. Just to clarify, that last suggestion was half in jest—I wouldn’t trust AP&T to run a hot dog stand without incurring millions in debt—but I’m behind the idea of town shuttles in general. Get creative.

    Comment by AD — September 24, 2008 @ 9:53 am

  15. Love buses. That means I don’t have to drive. And I save money, too. It’s all about saving money.

    Comment by James Chen — September 24, 2008 @ 10:33 am

  16. Commenting on info I posted above: Even if we had a BRT (with all the “doodads” which includes raised platforms and traffic signal controls), it would only save a few minutes in travel time, because as we know, Alameda is small (!). The same time could be saved with some form of a rapid bus — that is, something w/ fewer stops — assuming that we even need another bus. I agree that smaller shuttle buses could make more sense.

    Also, it’s always been true and obvious to many people that anything which delays drivers at the tubes will also delay buses. Again, it’s the dogmatic insistent on boilerplate solutions that doesn’t work here. We don’t have “congested corridors” actually, what we have are bottlenecked access points, and none of the smart growth bag of tricks can fix that.

    Any kind of “signal control” or “queue-jumping” at/near the tube which delays traffic will also delay buses running on Webster St — which ~is~ the queue. Buses would need to re-route at some point, by some means, to reach a different access point.

    And as for no dedicated lanes — Here’s an excerpt of the current language re BRT in the draft TE. Unless the language changes, statements alone won’t make much different:
    Exclusive Transit Right of Way:
    Identify future dedicated right of way routes for bus rapid transit … Possible
    candidates include Lincoln Avenue
    o Wider lane widths or wider curb lanes to minimize conflicts with bicyclists
    o Wider radii, and lane widths or wider curb lanes to accommodate transit vehicles
    – Signal priority/pre-emption, right-of-way priority
    o Useful for longer, congested corridors and frequent service areas

    Comment by DL Morrison — September 24, 2008 @ 11:04 am

  17. Off topic, sorry, but I have to wonder — does anyone know what this language in the TE is supposed to mean? Transit-oriented usually means high density, doesn’t it?

    4.3.1.h Encourage the creation of transit-oriented development and mixed-use development.
    [Under “Transportation Choice Goal”]

    Comment by DL Morrison — September 24, 2008 @ 11:20 am

  18. That’s exactly what it means DL. – John Knox White, who the mayor appointed to chairman of Transportation Commission (which played a major roll in putting the TE together), has long been a major advocate of high-density housing, the same is true of Mike Kruger of the TC. The comment you pointed out is only one of the instances the proposed TE is used as a bully pulpit for their opinion of housing growth. I sure hope you wrote a response to the Planning Board on the DEIR of the proposed TE.

    With the way the PB and CC protect public interests as seen with recent decisionis, the OSH, this TE proposal will be accepted and then used as “reasoning” to support changes to Measure A, and high density development approvals. These are clearly moves for the long game to benefit developers, not to protect Alameda citizens or our values as relating to neighborhoods and sfh.

    Comment by David Kirwin — September 24, 2008 @ 3:22 pm

  19. #12 “ANT – ompare that to the users of the 58,ooo daily vehicles – How many busses?”

    During commute hours (which is the time that really counts) there are probably about 25-30 buses an hour going through the tube. If that number could be increased, it would really help with congestion. If AC Transit ever strikes, we’re doomed. Commuters are very sensitive to delays, so anything that could be done to speed up bus service would encourage more ridership and reduce overall congestion. We are dependent upon AC Transit for service and AC considers ridership numbers in allocating service. Speeding up service reduces transit cost, as the main expense in bus service is the driver and the longer a bus takes to complete a route, the more expensive it is to run. This is really all about time: Saving the time of the rider and saving money by reducing the personnel time it takes to operate the service. Time is money.

    Comment by AlamedaNayTiff — September 24, 2008 @ 3:48 pm

  20. Ah, the Measure A monomaniacs have arrived. Is anything not related to the great conspiracy to rob you of your way of life?

    Look, encouraging people to ride transit is a worthwhile goal. It reduces congestion and cuts CO2 emissions. The faster the buses go and the more frequently arrive, the more attractive taking the bus becomes.

    Few people are completely inflexible in the form of transit they use. You wouldn’t think if you took some of the posters here as a representative sample, but most people are pragmatic and reasonable. If the bus gets them there efficiently and cheaply, they’ll take it. If it doesn’t they won’t. Public officials’ jobs as it relates to this is to consider the external effects of these private decisions and make policy accordingly.

    Comment by BC — September 24, 2008 @ 5:20 pm

  21. BC (No name – another Sun Cal Shill?)

    “If the bus gets them there efficiently and cheaply, they’ll take it. If it doesn’t they won’t.

    It doesn’t, and they don’t. I would if I could, but I don’t have the time and money to waste on riding the system. I sincerely wish I did.


    If you want to increase ridership, try doing so for the 80% or more present Alamedans for whom the bus system fails to get them there efficiently and cheaply.


    Pure stupidity is the only allowance for thinking it worth considering sacrificing a lane of roadway needed for the 58,000 vehicles who currently use the tubes daily. That roadway is already losing efficiency because of too many vehicles on the present road space.

    I encourage you to improve bus service, to get more drivers to become riders, but many are simply afraid of taking buses even if the bus gets them there efficiently and cheaply. There is plenty of work that can be done to support the goal of improved bus service without harming others.


    Developers and their ‘shills’ try to make this about Measure ‘A’. Improving bus service does not require additional development. But it is damned sure evident that more bus ridership is required BEFORE FURTHER DEVELOPMENT.

    Even the most ardent “transit friendly, high density’ development proponents admit that such development will at best increase the percentage of bus riders, and most will continue to be drivers. We currently don’t have road-space for this kind of additional # of drivers – GET IT? Further slowing cars at the island’s choke points is ENVIRONMENTALLY MORE DAMAGING. It is infuriating to see the “transit friendly, high density’ development proponents try to use the environment as reasoning.
    (Like current damage is bad, more damage will be good?!)

    Please examine the reality for this island.

    ANT – please substantiate your claims in post #19.
    As I examine the bus schedules, it looks like there are only about 10 buses per hour during the busiest commute hours, not 50 as you claim.

    I checked the “O”, “51” & “63” lines between the hours of 6-9am and 4-7pm. The “851” and “314” lines don’t run during commute hours. Did I miss other lines adding up to the other 40 buses per hour? Did I miss any at all?

    Comment by David Kirwin — September 24, 2008 @ 6:24 pm

  22. Oh ANT – I only counted buses going thru the tubes in the commute direction, since that is what we are discussing.

    Comment by Dave Kirwin — September 24, 2008 @ 6:28 pm

  23. BC, it’s not a conspiracy—it’s what people want. People who want the same thing band together to do it, not as conspirators but as collaborators. Congress wants CO2 emissions reduced; ABAG wants more housing quotas filled; AC Transit wants to run buses; Suncal wants to sell more houses and has to offer some transportation solution, so that the plan would be more or less acceptable. They all come together around a plan that serves all of them and start pushing it. That the plan may create problems for other people that are not in that group, such as drivers who have not choice but to drive, or people who happen to live along the selected routes, or those who’ve decided to live in a place that is less rather than more busy and urban, is mot too important. So then you have these people reacting to the plan, saying it messes up their plans. It’s a conflict of interest. And nowhere in this conflict is there a discussion of what to do so that the plan works for ALL of us. That would be too messy, time-consuming, probably expensive. It’s not how things are done. It’s easier to come up with the best way to pull the wool over the other’s eyes, or rather the eyes of the less informed voting public, when it comes to that. That’s what we know how to do well. So we throw around phrases like “responsibility”, “xyz-friendly”, “nimbys”, “choices”, and a whole bunch of studies and we never get around to a plan that works for all, or even most.

    Yes, we all want less CO2. Yes we like buses. Yes we all think driving less is good for us, and walking is best. And how can we do this (reduce CO2, drive less) so there isn’t more harm than good done (more congestion, more frustration, loss of quality and flight to other suburbs); so we don’t turn our natural friends into enemies, and have people harden in their positions, ready for battle instead of for cooperating? I was always open to a measure A amendment for the point, under certain conditions and pending certain questions. Lately, I’m thinking “Thank goodness measure A is in the charter, as nobody is talking and everybody is spinning.” Call me a monomaniac, or talk to me, your choice. I’ve got one vote.

    I can tell you, BC, that I’ve looked at my bus options to all the places I go, and my family goes, and they are neither cheap, not fast. A rapid bus down Lincoln Avenue will do me no good. I believe that’s the case for 80% of the people who live here. On the other hand a rapid bus might be great going down Ignacio Valley Blvd in Walnut Creek, which has a 6 lanes of bumper to bumper traffic all going down to BART. They’ve got real problem that BRT can solve, we don’t. We can use buses in other ways, see my suggestion above—why won’t AC Transit provide them? One size doesn’t fit all, it’s insulting to insist we all wear it. Why do we have to bend over backwards to accommodate them, and not they—us? Why are they quoting studies, which as Michael Krueger points out, are biased and inaccurate? Why don’t I believe what I hear, and have to always question it?

    Comment by AD — September 24, 2008 @ 6:42 pm

  24. DK — an end run around Measure A, so it appeared, but it almost looked too obvious to me — I guess I should know better. The next step is apparent: “The community” [for which I speak] has “approved” the TE so therefore they want more density. If the parking garage is any indication, the “community” doesn’t always get heard — even on matters of design review.

    And yes I did submit a comment — with regard to the first DEIR impact (no conflict with local ordinances).

    BC — I most certainly take the bus, as I have for years. I would never in a million years drive into SF and face that traffic every morning. And obviously, anything that delays traffic thru the tubes is going to delay the buses. It’s also going to send drivers off in all directions looking for another route.

    It’s a standard tactic to characterize this discussion as pro or anti-environmental. In fact, I’m definitely concerned about the environment; however, I’m also concerned about getting to work. I think we have to look at local conditions, not boilerplate assumptions.

    Comment by DL Morrison — September 24, 2008 @ 7:21 pm

  25. #22

    Add up the O, W, 51, 63 and 19 lines for the commute hours:


    51 – 9 buses an hour
    19 – 2 buses an hour
    63 – 2 buses an hour
    O – 5 buses an hour
    W – 4 buses an hour

    Same as NB except only 3 Transbay buses run through the tube

    Total: 38 buses an hour through the tubes.

    During the evening commute, the transbay buses run six times an hour, so the bus count is even higher.

    Not many people recognize just how vital AC Transit is to Alameda and how traffic through the tubes would be much worse without all of the buses.

    Comment by AlamedaNayTiff — September 24, 2008 @ 7:44 pm

  26. Hello again everyone,

    Been an interesting couple of days – thought I’d drop in again to “shill” 😉 for PRT & to report on my very short excursion into your nice little town.

    It was very short indeed! I came in over the High St bridge & drove down to Central & Park. Had lunch at the Burgermeister (ok – but next time I’m going to try Nations – any critiques or recommendations welcomed) & then continued down Central at a leisurely 25 mph. Beautiful drive down a quiet, tree-lined street – reminded me of downtown Davis, where the trees absorb so much noise that the quiet is spooky. In this auto-centric world you are very seldom in an urban environment where engine & tire noise isnt a constant background.

    At Union, I turned North-ish & then west-ish again on Lincoln. This stretch of Lincoln is, quite frankly, an eyesore. I’m sure you’ve all been up & down it a lot more than I have, so I won’t belabor the point. Thing got a bit nicer as I headed west – I hit a little jog & the street was now called Pacific. At Main I turned north & then another quick right onto Atlantic. To my right was a large dirt patch (what’s up with that) & what looked like badly-built, badly-maintained low income apartment housing. To my left a bright shiny new-looking development & then the College.

    A left onto (I believe it was) Webster & I headed toward the Tubes.

    You’re right, Dave Kirwin, the tubes are VERY tight, curving to the right as you travel the outbound (Posey?). There were two narrow-looking, raised catwalks on either side that must be the so-called “bike lanes”. I went thru with a container truck to my right & it appeared that he was filling his entire lane (his left wheel was right on the stripe) & his box was probably at the 13′ level.

    If a PRT guideway were to be run thru this tube, & not claim an entire lane, such trucks & other equally large vehicles would have to be banned. Perhaps Calthorpe had in mind the building of a suspension bridge for the PRT guideways (there would be two – one coming & one going) as such a bridge would be relatively light & inexpensive (please note the use of the word **relatively** before you go all ballistic & sh!t).

    I have just browsed thru the new DCP & note that the PRT system is described as having up to a 6+ minute wait for a vehicle. To my mind this implies that Suncal envisions a system that has too few cars to handle their envisioned peak demand & riders would have to wait a substantial (for PRT) amount of time for cars to return across the estuary (6+ minutes implies all cars still outbound to 12th St when a the system receives a new request ).

    If this system were seriously considered, that would be an important point to raise.

    By the way, the biggest stumbling block to PRT acceptance in the US is an obscure bit of Federal Law that prohibits Federal Transit Funds being applied to “unproven” technology. What this means is that the first PRT systems built in the US will have to be built by private operators using 100% private funding. SunCal is offering to do that for you, in Alameda Point. Once Alameda Point is running successfully any additional buildout that Alameda might undertake to provide this system to the rest of the island would be elligible for Federal Transit Funds.

    The people of Alameda have the power to set the first new US standard in public transportation in 100 years. That would be something for the history books.

    In closing, I’d like toask again whether you folks have considered using reversible lanes in the tubes, as a means to alleviating your morning & afternoon congestion problems?

    Thanks again for allowing me to participate in this discussion.

    Comment by Sidewinder — September 24, 2008 @ 9:54 pm

  27. ANT –
    Thank you for correcting my counting error without calling me nasty names.
    Again I counted only buses traveling in the commute direction – Alameda toward Oakland in the am and Oakland to Alameda in the pm.

    I counted all commute direction buses traveling the tubes between 6-9am & 4-7pm (I had some how under-counted the 51 & not seen info on the “W”.
    This is what I found:

    “O” -12
    #63 – 6
    #19 – 6
    #51 – 20
    #314 – 1
    “W” – 8

    Total 53 buses in 3 busiest hours in commute direction thru tubes
    (17.66 buses per hour that effect or are affected by “rush hours”)

    So what can you do to support more buses, more riders served, or better service that will not adversely affect the 10’s of thousands of other vehicles traveling the same tubes during the same hours?

    Comment by David Kirwin — September 24, 2008 @ 10:00 pm

  28. SW – By the way, the biggest stumbling block to PRT acceptance in the US is an obscure bit of Federal Law that prohibits Federal Transit Funds being applied to “unproven” technology. What this means is that the first PRT systems built in the US will have to be built by private operators using 100% private funding. SunCal is offering to do that for you, in Alameda Point.

    I’m still not clear – Alameda point does not include Oakland (I’m pretty clear on that so far) How does PRT get to a BART station if SunCal limits responsibility to the Point?

    On other news…What happens to the likely scenario, when it is proven even to your standards, that there is no feasible way to get PRT across the estuary west of Coast Guard Island? From previous studies done by other dreamers we know the substantial height requirements (and clearances) required by the Coast Guard for their ships. The obvious answer is that PRT would be forced with trying to “buy” an acceptable path all the way to Fruitvale. Would that translate to a 20 minute trip for each car with the 2 stops? How would SunCal move 1500 -2000 people per hour on such a long voyage?

    (Guessing min 6,000 units, perhaps 9,000 workers, and standard commute hours for realist % of workers to need to commute.) All outrageous guesses I’m sure, but the whole selling feature is “transit friendly” for higher transit use – How can it be done?

    Seems clear to me that it can’t be done. If high density, mixed use is the desired solution, the number of units still can not be more than the existing PDA – The transportation studies make this really clear.

    Comment by David Kirwin — September 24, 2008 @ 10:30 pm

  29. Is it conceivable that a PRT tube would cost enough less because of size and other demands to change the calculus of the tube option, which for cars and buses we know is prohibitive?

    I think it is pretty cool that Sidewinder did so well guessing about Alameda by just reading from a distance and was curious enough about getting it straight to take the time to come here.

    By the way SW, the dirt strip parallel to Atlantic opposite the new development, called Bayport the namesake of this blog, was the last stretch of a continuous right of way from the old Navy base, which you managed to skirt but miss, back east to the Fruitvale bridge which comes just before High Street on the East End. The strip was the Beltline railway and had track along the entire route and includes a decrepit drawbridge of sorts at Fruitvale crossing.

    Unfortunately, a short chunk of that continuous right of way was interrupted for the development of a Kinko’s, Subway and Starbuck’s.
    A real stroke of genius.

    Comment by Mark Irons — September 24, 2008 @ 11:30 pm

  30. That’s right, I’m a Sun Cal shill! I CAN EVEN APPEAR A LITTLE UNHINGED BY TYPING IN CAPITALS. This kind of paranoia illustrates exactly what I was pointing out. Actually, I’m just someone who takes the bus to work (off island–Alameda’s small enough to bike around) some days, bikes others and, horror of horrors, even drives now and then.

    Anyway, back to shilling.

    Comment by BC — September 25, 2008 @ 7:57 am



    -GET IT?

    No matter how loud people scream – some refuse to listen or acknowledge.

    Comment by David Kirwin — September 25, 2008 @ 8:07 am

  32. You keep screaming. Remember, if in doubt, one should assume it’s the audience that’s missing your point.

    Keep on shillin’.

    Comment by BC — September 25, 2008 @ 8:19 am

  33. Personally, I’m willing to listen to other viewpoints as long as I’m being heard and as long as common sense prevails over all. It might be possible, for example, to run a PRT system thru a new tube, at least in theory. It sounds much more feasible than trying to run it over the estuary anyway (which sounds impossible). But of course, funding is the first consideration, and as Sidewinder noted above, public funding could be limited or not available at all.

    I have one other point to mention in passing, re: the assumption that the “improved transit” that accompanies higher density development will attract more riders — suppose we do get improved transit via developer funding, and then AC Transit says in effect, “hey, here’s a great opportunity to economize”, and they cut back on their service.

    Is there anyway to stop them from doing this?

    This is why I object to these blind assumptions — that more density will lead to less congestion. It’s not only counterintuitive on the face of it, it really doesn’t hold up under scrutiny either — especially not in a place where public transit is readily available and is already being heavily used. Additional transit here would not bring about any radical change – obviously.

    Comment by DL Morrison — September 25, 2008 @ 10:50 am

  34. Another thought: a new tube for the PRT could also be the route for the bike/pedestrian crossing. It would have to be astronomical in cost, tho, and way beyond what any developer would be willing or able to pay. Maybe there’ll be a breakthru in underwater tube construction??

    Comment by DL Morrison — September 25, 2008 @ 10:59 am

  35. Make it a clear tube and we could sell tickets! (sorry)

    Comment by DL Morrison — September 25, 2008 @ 11:00 am

  36. All of this talk about transportation elements and Jetsons-like BRT/PRT is not realistic in the least.


    SunCal is posturing (their financing is now coming from a hedgefund company, for crying out loud!) and the City is posturing. This City is leveraged in bonded indebtedness, and they are desperately trying to put in play actual money set aside in the Redevelopment Fund.

    What these people are talking about in their cute 132 page plan is unrealistic. SunCal looks like a bunch of crooks–people working on their failed/stalled projects are not being paid for work they have done.

    This is a giant shell game.

    Comment by E T — September 25, 2008 @ 11:22 am

  37. ET:

    You do understand that BRT (Bus Rapid Transit) and PRT (Personal Rapid Transit) are two different transportation options, right?

    When you lump the two together as above it appears that you are confusing the two.

    Also, no need to post the link to the EBX article multiple times, I’ll be writing about it next week.

    Comment by Lauren Do — September 25, 2008 @ 12:12 pm

  38. Yes, I do understand that these are two different options, but the point I am making is that for all of this to work, there need to be agreements with Oakland and there needs to be MONEY.

    I assume that some of these transportation elements can receive some State and Federal funding, but look at the bigger picture:

    The banking, bonding, insuring part of all of this is up in smoke, at the local, state and federal level.

    Is any of what has been bandied about realistic until there is significant restructuring of our fiduciary system and global recovery from this disaster?

    Our lives and our communities have been leveraged on credit to beyond the hilt, at this point.

    It is irresponsible for the City to be pinning its hopes on SunCal and SunCal’s hedge fund financiers to make a new mixed residential/business community out at the Point, with all the clean-up, the infrastructure, the transportation, the purchasing of the land.

    What is more realistic is to create a land trust for that area.

    Why rush the community into a worse financial doom than already exists, particularly when we cannot fill all of the retail/office/business zoned space that is currently extant here? When we cannot sell homes (and get the transfer tax money).

    I cannot help but think that all of this is a bit on the insane side. And can you blame me?

    Comment by E T — September 25, 2008 @ 12:26 pm

  39. “Land Trust” is a very broad term. What sort of Land Trust do you think Alameda Point should be turned into?

    If you are talking about a Community Land Trust in order to preserve the affordability of the housing on the land, who then pays for the infrastructure required to develop any housing on the CLT? The City of Alameda? You just discussed the dangers of “leveraging on credit” our communities, so who would be the entity to also pony up the money that the Navy is expecting for the land?

    Comment by Lauren Do — September 25, 2008 @ 12:40 pm

  40. What is the legislative bill (State? Federal?) mentioned by Doug DeHaan at the last ARRA meeting that would supposedly reduce?/eliminate?/help pay? the price for the land? Can any of the bloggers out there poke around this a bit?

    Comment by AD — September 25, 2008 @ 12:57 pm

  41. #39 Those are excellent questions to which I don’t have answers, except to say that if an arrangement could be made to create a community (maybe historic?)land trust, and the city could purchase the land for that purpose, then the land would belong to the city, at least; and further development issues could be handled at a later time. (Would we want SunCal to own the land?)

    As for the infrastructure: We pay for the infrastructure. Yes, any developer that develops “pays” (up front, on credit) but what that ultimately means is that we pay for it in the community in the form of bonded indebtedness, property transfer taxes, higher sales taxes, elevated price of housing and leasing (because they have to factor in the overhead of clean-up and infrastructure into sales each unit) and increased overhead with regard to city services.

    (The last time I heard anything specific about this, a residential house at the Point would have an additional $100,000.00 put on it because of the infrastructure/clean-up overhead alone. This seems outlandish to me. Which leads me to ask, what was the overhead on the Bayport homes?)

    WE PAY. It is all us.

    The Federal gov’t passes much off to the states, while it plays its empire war games overseas. Then the state (witness what we have been going through just to pass a budget here!) passes the expense of everything that is a service on to the county and local governments, which then have to raise our local taxes for residents and businesses just to keep the home fires burning, or do without (as in eliminate the program. This is why the public schools (on the hook to the feds for “no child left behind”, as it is a fed unfunded by the fed, and sold out by the state) have to scrimp along with these parcel taxes and stupid fundraising ploys.

    So when they tell you they are cutting taxes (feds, state, whomever), it is a joke, because in the end we end up paying for all anyway.

    McCain says “we need to cut people’s taxes and increase revenues.” Silliest thing I ever heard in my life. Where does this increased revenue come from? Well, history and experience tells me that it comes from taxation, and no where else.

    Comment by E T — September 25, 2008 @ 1:24 pm

  42. ET-

    The viability of any mode of housing, transport, etc. is not defined by any one aspect or facet.

    Start up costs of original construction for PRT for example, have to be measured separately from on going cost of operation and maintenance to get a long term picture of viability.

    Cost as an over all issue can be separated from PRT’s efficiency as a mode of transport. Infratstructure hurdles, like grade separation, can fall into the camps of both cost and the practical application.

    I have heard enough level headed talk about the PRT technology that I am feeling more intolerant of Jetson references.

    I think ANT’s Disney references are funny and not completely inappropriate either, but on the technology, the jury is still out for me.

    Too many times I’ve heard the cry about how we (Alamedans) are misunderstood because some so and so can’t get it through their thick heads “we’re and island!” Seems to me a reason PRT could be a fit for our “special” circumstances could be related to the fact “we’re and island!”

    I view the density issue for proposed development from multiple perspectives. “Quality of life”, if you will, which is relative to many factors that like personal privacy and sense of community, environmental sustainability, economic viability of adjacent amenities, etc., and transportation as a specific and hugely important issue as related to density.

    So is “all this talk….realistic”? Yeah, much of it probably is in various frameworks, and just as much of it may not be, but sorting that out is the process we are stuck with.

    The partnership the City has with the Navy for the interim lease period, including cost to Alameda tax payers, is not something of which I have been able to maintain an intricate understanding, as I might expect a council person to do, but as the master developer dance has gone on, it seems SunCal has committed to some millions of it’s own money to be part of this discussion. The discussion has come a long way from the the town hall process EDAW led back in 1993. We paid them $1.4 million.

    The discussion has a long way to go. With all the SNAFUs in the economy, maybe we’ll get another fifteen years to get it right, including transfer of the land for $1 from an Obama administration DOD. Paying for toxic clean-up? Who knows?

    Comment by Mark Irons — September 25, 2008 @ 6:13 pm

  43. I know this is an older post, and this is about BRT, but I hope you will read this blog entry from a gentleman in Minnesota. It is about, of all things, PRT, and quotes our own Marc Albert of the Alameda Sun:

    The entry, made by someone who is apparently in the transportation business, asserts that PRT is being introduced as a Measure A buster.

    We are in a fish bowl, here in Alameda. People from other communities are observing what is going on here with interest.

    And yet, we sit isolated in our island ghetto and pretend that the problems of other communities with regard to SunCal could not possibly be our problem, too.

    Comment by E T — October 1, 2008 @ 5:18 pm

  44. That blog is run by Ken Avidor who has posted here previously about his concerns about PRT.

    Comment by Lauren Do — October 1, 2008 @ 6:30 pm

  45. ET: Thank you.

    Comment by DL Morrison — October 1, 2008 @ 6:35 pm

  46. Some fact-checking and analyses of Avidor regarding Alameda, including the link @44:

    Comment by Mr_Grant — October 2, 2008 @ 9:40 am

  47. Mr_Grant: thank you.

    Comment by Mark Irons — October 2, 2008 @ 11:41 am

  48. The Avidor mystery (a.k.a., do we trust his information or do we write him off as a crackpot?)notwithstanding, we need to remember that PRT is indeed a pipe dream–SunCal won’t do anything about it until the LAST PHASE of development, and ONLY if what has been built by that time is occupied at nearly critical mass!!!

    [We must have over a million square feet of available space all over town now, so how do they expect to fill 4 million square feet of retail/comm at the point?]

    The monorail footprint will be added AFTER THE FACT?!

    That makes no sense from ANY planning point of view.

    And you cannot tell me that Chinatown is going to agree to anything over the 1800 units agreed to years ago.

    Comment by E T — October 2, 2008 @ 1:05 pm

  49. @49

    You’re describing an implementation decision, and I recognize your healthy skepticism about that aspect as well as concerns about SunCal and the overall project impact on the community. My only interest here is that whatever decision you make is reached objectively, and not influenced by Avidor propaganda.

    Comment by Mr_Grant — October 2, 2008 @ 2:48 pm

  50. By the way, would someone mind providing a URL to something that explains what community activists are proposing should be done at Alameda Point instead of the SunCal plan? Thanks.

    Comment by Mr_Grant — October 2, 2008 @ 3:14 pm

  51. I think there will be activists at tonight’s HAB meeting at City Hall.

    Comment by E T — October 2, 2008 @ 4:13 pm

  52. 50. I agree. I had already made up my mind to be skeptical when I read the SunCal proposal. The transportation part alone absolutely reeks! Why? Because there are too many variables in too many different gov’t sectors (in- and outside of Alameda) that need to say YES to it ALL before any of it would be allowed in the first place.

    For example, AC transit is not traditionally known for ADDING service… 😉

    Comment by E T — October 2, 2008 @ 4:18 pm

  53. Mr Grant:

    The only community driven proposal that I know of is Alameda Point Vision.

    ET: Other than your concerns about PRT and BRT, what about the transportation portion is not feasible (or rather “reeks”) in the Concept Plan? Car Shares? Carpooling? Shuttles? Bicycle Sharing? Increased ferry services?

    Comment by Lauren Do — October 2, 2008 @ 4:30 pm

  54. Well, all of those are nice ideas. Lovely ideas.

    Increased ferry service has been requested in the past, was it granted? People carpool now, if they can. Shuttles are good. Car share should be available in Alameda right now, like it is elsewhere in the bay area.

    The point I am making is that you need to deal with AC Transit, BART, Ferry… China Town… All these little governmental concerns with their own orbit patterns, budget concerns and union representation. It has proven difficult at best to have one on one conversation with any one of these different entities, much less all of them.

    That is what seems unrealistic about the plan as a whole.

    Comment by E T — October 2, 2008 @ 5:00 pm

  55. 49 Avidor doesn’t seem a crack pot as much as a very determined anti-PRT zealot with a specific agenda, which in part is not to have an honest discussion. To me he is kind of like some folks who have dedicated themselves to protecting Measure A. Ken has made some good points, but is also willing to mislead and use scare tactics.

    The PRT was only for the 6000 unit version of the plan, which is not likely to happen, so can we relax a little and allow some time for actual projects like Heathrow to build out and not expend so much energy on what seems to me to be useless speculation on PRT?

    In terms of mocking somebody by using their name, the links at 47 have some amusing variations of Avidor.

    52- Yes the HAB was at the HAB meeting tonight. We are all activists of different stripes which is why we applied to be on the board.

    The presentation was specific to the purview of HAB and not a comprehensive presentation of the whole SunCal plan. Activists who spoke where thankfully of the AAPS variety.

    Comment by Mark Irons — October 2, 2008 @ 10:22 pm

  56. 56. YES! Glad you saw the point I was making–YOU ARE ACTIVISTS! And RIGHT ON! Thanks for your dedication to the issues that come before you; it is widely appreciated.

    Comment by E T — October 3, 2008 @ 10:09 am

  57. Mark: What point is there in excluding ordinary community members from this discussion? Is that your philosophy regarding public process — because when you make snotty sounding comments to me, I begin to wonder what the heck I’m doing trying to participate — I seem to be dealing with the online equivalent of a high school clique. That is not everyone’s attitude, but it certainly appears to be yours.

    Actually, and without sarcasm, I think this discussion is largely pointless, because the people on the pro-development side will try to rationalize or dismiss the very obvious real problems (which have been described over and over and over), and persist in trying to justify development where it just isn’t feasible. If reality doesn’t count, then I give up.

    Comment by DL Morrison — October 3, 2008 @ 10:24 am

  58. Here’s a reality that, for once, actually relates to ours: a report on the damage caused by the Kobe earthquake, in particular re structural failure due to liquifaction.

    Note this statement in particular, in Section 3.3, Building Foundations (including a monorail system): “Most of the structures on these islands, including many low- and high-rise buildings and a monorail system on Port Island, are founded on deep foundations, presumably piles and piers, that extend to competent material below the fill.”

    I am assuming that “competent material” means something more solid than fill or bay mud — according to this report, the ground sank but the buildings on competent material mostly remained in place; those without a solid footing did not. If you’re interested, then see Chapter 3 on liquifaction, and Chapter 6 on damage to utilities, for starters.

    Here’s the TOC:

    Comment by DL Morrison — October 3, 2008 @ 1:05 pm

  59. Hey DL – your still posting – I thought you might have given up like the pro-development crowds wants us to – then they can say that most of the bloggers are in favor of development…
    …but no, you posted with ‘old’ information, ancient info from last century – 1995! Don’t you know BayPort Bloggers stand for change? – I mean real change, and will simply dismiss that ‘old info’ that dares to counter their high density ideas. Your like those silly hippy tree-huggers saving ancient trees – don’t ya know we can have brand new trees? Some are NIB rated! Don’t ya think most people want clean new trees instead of old dirty, knarly old trees, with branches going every which way? They are so disorganized looking.

    Now it even looks like the high density pushers have started to say “Okay forget the BRT/PRT plan – that wasn’t really going to happen anyway, so just relax and we’ll all happily support the 4,000 residential unit plan.” – Duhhh!

    How about we all support the MA complaint plan approved by the PB or CC unless SunCal improves on it with the same, or fewer residential units, – maybe keeping more of the mixed use, retail-light industrial hangers and keep the housing isolated to the higher elevated land where the Navy had their housing. Maybe the Navy wasn’t so dumb and had a reason for the way the Point was set up. Even if it isn’t a perfect wheel, maybe it doesn’t need to be‘re-invented’.

    ET: Other than your concerns about PRT and BRT, what about the transportation portion is not feasible (or rather “reeks”) in the Concept Plan? Car Shares? Carpooling? Shuttles? Bicycle Sharing? Increased ferry services?

    Comment by Lauren Do — October 2, 2008 @ 4:30 pm

    Lauren – the real problem is that it is inadequate to move all the proposed tenants off and on and around the island every day – THAT is the real problem with the SunCal transportation plan.
    And I don’t support inadequacy of a plan, “just to see what will happen” – I think JKW was credited with that philosophy.

    Comment by David Kirwin — October 3, 2008 @ 4:17 pm

  60. DK: “How about we all support the MA complaint plan approved by the PB or CC” Because it doesn’t work. Oh and it was never approved by the PB or CC.

    Comment by notadave — October 3, 2008 @ 4:59 pm

  61. NAD – Actually I believe you should be corrected – APCP’s PDC is the only point concept that has been approved. My understanding that the point of hiring a new master developer was that they would use the years of time, money, research and debate that lead to the granting of that PDC approval.

    The APCP PDC has never been “de-approved”. Really a shame SunCal and Calthorpe are so unimaginative that they can not even imagine a better, smaller, more affordable plan. Rough estimates for SunCal’s ‘s infrastructure asks the City (That’s us!) to pay $700,000,000 for the benefit of creating SunCal profit, temporary jobs for construction company employees, and intersection stopping traffic for our Island forever – if/when the property gets occupied. The infrastructure costs alone equals $10,000 for every living Alameda citizen, and will be paid from “tax increment’ – of course that means money the city and state don’t get for police, fire, education, etc… Guess who gets to make up the shortfall? It wouldn’t be transfer tax increases anymore!

    Maybe today such thought pales in comparison to the “big bank bailout” – an equivalent to $23,000 for every living human in the god ‘ol USA!

    Feel like you and your wallet are being properly represented by your elected official?

    Comment by David Kirwin — October 3, 2008 @ 7:11 pm

  62. 545 PEOPLE By Charlie Reese

    Politicians are the only people in the world who create problems and then campaign against them.

    Have you ever wondered why, if both the Democrats and the Republicans are against deficits, WHY do we have deficits?

    Have you ever wondered why, if all the politicians are against inflation and high taxes, WHY do we have inflation and high taxes?

    You and I don’t propose a federal budget. The president does.

    You and I don’t have the Constitutional authority to vote on appropriations. The House of Representatives does.

    You and I don’t write the tax code, Congress does.

    You and I don’t set fiscal policy, Congress does.

    You and I don’t control monetary policy, the Federal Reserve Bank does.

    One hundred senators, 435 congressmen, one president, and nine Supreme Court justices 545 human beings out of the 300 million are directly, legally,
    morally, and individually responsible for the domestic problems that plague this country.

    I excluded the members of the Federal Reserve Board because that problem was created by the Congress. In 1913, Congress delegated its Constitutional
    duty to provide a sound currency to a federally chartered, but private, central bank.

    I excluded all the special interests and lobbyists for a sound reason. They have no legal authority. They have no ability to coerce a senator, a congressman, or a president to do one cotton-picking thing. I don’t care if they offer a politician $1 million dollars in cash. The politician has the power to accept or reject it. No matter what the lobbyist promises, it is the legislator’s responsibility to determine how he votes.

    Those 545 human beings spend much of their energy convincing you that what they did is not their fault. They cooperate in this common con regardless of party.

    What separates a politician from a normal human being is an excessive amount of gall. No normal human being would have the gall of a Speaker, who stood up and criticized the President for creating deficits. The president can only propose a budget. He cannot force the Congress to accept it.

    The Constitution, which is the supreme law of the land, gives sole responsibility to the House of Representatives for originating and approving appropriations and taxes. Who is the speaker of the House? She is the leader of the majority party. She and fellow House members, not the president, can approve any budget they want. If the president vetoes it, they can pass it over his veto if they agree to.

    It seems inconceivable to me that a nation of 300 million can not replace 545 people who stand convicted — by facts — of incompetence and irresponsibility. I can’t think of a single domestic problem that is not traceable directly to those 545 people. When you fully grasp the plain truth that 545 people exercise the power of the federal government, then it must follow that what exists is what they want to exist.

    If the tax code is unfair, it’s because they want it unfair.

    If the budget is in the red, it’s because they want it in the red. If the Army & Marines are in IRAQ , it’s because they want them in IRAQ .

    If they do not receive social security but are on an elite retirement plan not available to the people, it’s because they want it that way. There are no insoluble government problems.

    Do not let these 545 people shift the blame to bureaucrats, whom they hire and whose jobs they can abolish; to lobbyists, whose gifts and advice they can reject; to regulators, to whom they give the power to regulate and from whom they can take this power. Above all, do not let them con us into the belief that there exists disembodied mystical forces like ‘the economy,’ ‘inflation,’ or ‘politics’ that prevent them from doing what they take an oath to do.

    Those 545 people, and they alone, are responsible. They, and they alone, have the power. They, and they alone, should be held accountable by the people who are
    their bosses provided the voters have the gumption to manage their own employees.

    We should vote all of them out of office and clean up their mess!

    Charlie Reese is a former columnist of the Orlando Sentinel Newspaper.
    What you do with this article now that you have read it is up to you, though you appear to have several choices.
    1. You can send this to friends in your address book, and hope ‘they’ do something about it.
    2. You can agree to ‘vote against’ everyone that is currently in office, knowing that the process will take several years.
    3. You can decide to ‘run for office’ yourself .
    4. Lastly, you can sit back and do nothing, and the current bunch will be elected.


    Comment by David Kirwin — October 3, 2008 @ 7:17 pm

  63. Oops, you forgot the ex officio president of the senate. Make that 546. Gore and Cheney wouldn’t like to be left out.

    Comment by Jack Richard — October 4, 2008 @ 8:45 am

  64. Yea Jack you may have a point, but on the other hand we are down one Congressional House member too.

    Still, Charlie Reese really makes the point, doesn’t he?

    Comment by David Kirwin — October 4, 2008 @ 9:39 am

  65. Right, one Cubin for Wyoming, but like all government they made up the difference somewhere else…still 435.

    More points from Reese

    1. Government is inherently incompetent, and no matter what task it is assigned, it will do that task in the most expensive and inefficient way possible.

    2. The American government is corrupt from top to bottom.

    3. If you rely on the mass media to inform you about your community, state and nation, you will, with rare exceptions, be woefully ignorant of what is really going on.

    4. The universal franchise is a bad idea. The notion that the destiny of the nation should be put in the hands of ignoramuses, parasites, boobs, party hacks and idiots is absurd on its face.

    5. Public education in America is a failure and is so flawed it cannot be reformed.

    6. Not much has changed in the past 5,000 years of human history.

    Comment by Jack Richard — October 4, 2008 @ 10:21 am

  66. 58. DLM It’s not about you. 56 was more directed at ET than you but more than that it was serious. PRT is getting to be a dead horse. Your comment about high school snottiness seems a little snotty too. You come in here being very critical. Nobody has jumped down your throat. I think you are being a little sensitive.

    In my own defense I wrenched my back badly Thursday A.M. and 56 was posted after I had just come from a somewhat drawn out HAB meeting which I forced myself to attend so there would be a quorum, as an applicant was returning for the third time on a project. This time we approved 2-1 and were booed and hissed by unhappy residents from Bay Street. The rewards of volunteering.

    I took ET 52 to be a warning that there might be the torch and pitchfork crowd at HAB because of the SunCal presentation. I’m glad ET has a better sense of proportion, than perhaps you or I do at the moment.

    Comment by Mark Irons — October 4, 2008 @ 10:57 am

  67. DK

    You whine about people who disagree with you wanting to run you away just like the Republicans whined about their phony media conspiracy to get Sarah Palin in the week of the Republican convention.

    Nobody is trying to shut anybody down. We all know that even a horse head in your bed couldn’t stifle you. You have posted several times the column inches of the blog hostess in your history here.

    I’m frigging tired of PRT discussion. Am I not allowed to say so because the truth squad thinks that’s snotty?

    Comment by Mark Irons — October 4, 2008 @ 11:05 am

  68. Jack –

    House Roll Call: How they voted on bailout bill
    By The Associated Press – 1 day ago

    The 263-171 roll call Friday by which the House approved a $700 billion government bailout bill for the battered financial industry.

    A “yes” vote is a vote to pass the bill.

    Voting yes were 172 Democrats and 91 Republicans.

    Voting no were 63 Democrats and 108 Republicans.

    X denotes those not voting.

    There is 1 vacancy in the 435-member House.

    Comment by David Kirwin — October 4, 2008 @ 11:56 am

  69. This discussion started as BRT and then shifted to PRT, and truthfully, I’m not sure where the focus is right now. In any event, I appreciate what Mark is saying and I don’t want to be snotty either, but I find myself so often hesitating to post anything here, feeling that maybe it would be best left alone, and that bothers me. In fact, this blog has plenty of flaming wars — well considered, articulate flaming wars to be sure — and it’s often been acknowledged that many people do not participate here because they find it intimidating. The “subject comment” here was not flaming of course, but it looked sarcastic — I believe that it wasn’t in any event.

    As for discussing PRT: it’s probably a distraction, true.

    Comment by DL Morrison — October 4, 2008 @ 11:56 am

  70. There is no need of additional development in Alameda to support BRT. Or, Perhaps I don’t understand how BRT is defined. I appreciate the use of “express lines” from “transportation hub” to “transportation hub”.

    Post #1 stated a desire for such a line from Oakland’s 12th St BART to Alameda Point to Fruitvale BART running the length of the Island on Lincoln.

    As most people know, Alameda Point is kinda out of the way. We need transportation solutions BEFORE development, let’s see if an improved transportation system would improve ridership before agreeing to any development that requires increased transit use.

    “Transportation Hubs” is not a new concept, but maybe the term is now being used with differing intent. For job commuters – Our Shopping centers, especially Marina Village, and Fruitvale Landing, are great locations for hookups to express busses linking other modes of transportation. Such busses can be lined up waiting for the riders from the neighborhood feeder routes; Waiting express busses offer free wi-fi, and could be destined for the airport, various BART stations, or other cities within the county, and would not require their own “BRT” lanes – that is what commuter lanes are for. They do not need their own lanes to get to the closest BART stations, if they run often enough, and are economical enough, they could still be faster and more convenient than a car which requires parking. These are relatively simple solutions that would not damage the LOS for the automobile, but could offer a more attractive alternative. Of course there are other perks too, as many companies already offer the tax-payer financed transit credits for such ridership. It is horrifying and infuriating that our TC would rather close lanes to cars, or otherwise “punish” drivers to encourage bus ridership.

    As has been stated repeatedly – a better bus system does not need additional development, everyone seems to be saying the same thing – a better system will increase ridership. And most Alamedans agree – it is an ill-fated idea to further develop Alameda with big projects before we have a working transportation solution.

    Comment by David Kirwin — October 4, 2008 @ 12:50 pm

  71. DK – You’re right, there is an Ohio congressional seat that hasn’t been filled after the death of the holder and Weller, from Illinois, didn’t vote.

    Comment by Jack Richard — October 4, 2008 @ 12:53 pm

  72. 71
    Under AC Transit’s ideal concept, BRT has exclusive lanes which would, in the case of Lincoln Ave or Central Ave. mean either no parking on street or single lane auto traffic.

    Comment by Jack Richard — October 4, 2008 @ 1:03 pm

  73. The reference to AC Transit’s “ideal” is correct. BRT is a concept looking for a justification — it’s very possible to create rapid bus lines that don’t require the infrastructure, cost and disruption that BRT does. BRT is inherently flawed here in Alameda anyway, because it cannot retain a dedicated lane thru the tube — altho it could in theory over the bridges (??). I think the real intent, anyway, is to construct a regional BRT system, ours being a loop, with or without popular consent or even popular recognition.

    And I agree 100%: Let’s improve transit FIRST, demonstrate that it can be done, and then measure the improvement as a basis for further development. But then of course, there’s no money for this without development, so maybe that’s the first finding: if we ain’t got the money, AC Transit sure ain’t got it. I also think, incidentally, that the sole reliance on “transit fees” to fund everything new would be extremely unwise — they keep throwing that out in the PDC like it’s an endless stream of money — I doubt it.

    Comment by DL Morrison — October 5, 2008 @ 11:59 am

  74. There’s something else I might as well mention here — a new state senate bill that just passed, SB 375, that “influences” growth patterns in an effort to prevent sprawl. It’s quite complex, but as for relevancy here: it removes any requirement for CEQA review on the greenhouse gases or traffic impacts of new developments, if they meet certain criteria. I’m attaching an analysis here which is the most thorough and objective that I’ve found so far — it’s odd that this wasn’t in the Chron, even with all the recent crises.

    Comment by DL Morrison — October 5, 2008 @ 12:15 pm

  75. To #71 & 74 –

    I agree that it is laudable to improve transportation even in the absence of new development, but the problem you have in Alameda is “Who pays for it?”

    Your city mandates no new charges/taxes for existing residents, which is why these transit solutions are being piggybacked onto development proposals in the first place. I’ve read other posters complaint about lack of capacity for the city to issue bonds.

    This is compounded by the fact that bus, ferry & light rail solutions DO NOT pay for their own operation & maintenance from the fair box, but require subsidies from local, state and/or federal governments for each & every ride.

    Even automobiles are subsidized – no highway fund completely pays its own way.

    What you call “punishing” drivers is merely making them pay for with time what they will not pay for with money.

    That said, people will not use these bus systems you are proposing because they are even MORE COSTLY in terms of time than automobiles, and they are too costly, in terms of subsidy, for a government to run them any more frequently than every 20 minutes or so.

    I realize that people still rely on cars to get them where they need to go in the absence of a public transportation system that they can really use.

    To put such a system in place, someone has to take a first step, and even then, let’s be realistic, it won’t happen overnight.

    But it will happen, if you choose it. Otherwise, you are doomed to doing transit the same old way, hoping for a different result.

    Try not to be too disappointed when you don’t get it.

    Comment by Sidewinder — October 5, 2008 @ 1:16 pm

  76. Comment by Reginald James — October 5, 2008 @ 2:16 pm

  77. No, it won’t happen overnight, and it may not happen at all — which is the problem. New development will increase traffic without question, and the promised “transit solutions” (even if they could solve the problem, which they can’t), will not materialize quickly enough. In the meantime, it will become that much more difficult to commute off the Island via the limited number of access points, especially via the tube. This is something people on the pro-development side keep valiantly ignoring.

    Please bear in mind that the buses take the same routes as cars, and will also be stuck in traffic. This is not a situation that can be covered by simplistic theorizing.

    And further, if the local transit agencies can’t afford to increase service (such as AC Transit), then why keep telling people that more density will automatically create more transit? It can’t possibly, and especially not when local fares are at $1.75 and rising.

    There’s no reason for a “car-free” future anyway — public transit can’t remotely come close to reaching every home everywhere, and in a four-season climate especially, commuting without a car or some equivalent isn’t going to work.

    Comment by DL Morrison — October 5, 2008 @ 5:16 pm

  78. Re SB 375: Here’s a legislative analysis:

    Comment by DL Morrison — October 5, 2008 @ 5:23 pm

  79. Sidewinder – While I patiently wait to see the study done for a bicycle and pedestrian estuary crossing, done at a cost of nearly a quarter million dollars, can you show me a single study done to estimate ridership of express busses to other cities in Alameda county?

    Since the express bus line to SF is perhaps the most used bus line in our city, why have our trusted servants not tried to replicate the same level of ridership for other express busses?

    I don’t mind that busses get caught in the same traffic as cars or are able to use carpool / diamond lanes on the highways – what I mind is that bus to bus to BART to bus to get to downtown Berkeley is ridiculous, both in time and cost.

    Sidewinder says “What you call “punishing” drivers is merely making them pay for with time what they will not pay for with money.”

    This is exactly the type of statement that will continue to turn the masses against your form of public transit ideas. If you can’t learn to do it right, you should not be doing it.

    Comment by David Kirwin — October 5, 2008 @ 7:41 pm

  80. Sorry to not respond to DK earlier – out of town this weekend. Actually, I believe if you look back at the record, the PDC was never approved by the City Council, ARRA or any other body. It was only “accepted”. The reaon for this is that in order to actually approve the document, the city would have to undertake an EIR (which undoubtedly would have shown its many shortcomings). Even at acceptance, there were many comments that this was not the best plan by any means, but the only one that was measure A compliant.

    Comment by notadave — October 6, 2008 @ 8:05 am

  81. DK, I may just be a shill for developers as you’ve suggested, but I manage get to downtown Berkeley by bus and then BART. Quite easy really. What are “bus to bus” and “BART to bus” legs? Have you tried the trip planner on There’s actually a BART station right in downtown Berkeley. (I’d guess the 51 gets more riders than the SF buses but I’ll refain from claiming that my guess is a hard fact, undeniable by all reasonable people…)

    Comment by BC — October 6, 2008 @ 8:26 am

  82. NAD – I tried to confirm, but don’t have time for satisfactory research. I did see this which supports the term “Approved PDC for the Point”. This PDC is still “approved”
    From AAPS Newsletter August 2006:

    Click to access 2006AugustAAPSNewsletter.pdf

    With a rash of illegal demolitions,
    an approved Preliminary
    Design Concept for Alameda
    Point which calls for the
    removal of historic buildings,
    proposed revisions to the Historic
    Preservation Ordinance and a host of other construction projects
    in Alameda, AAPS felt that it was important to assist Alameda
    residents in learning each candidate’s views on preservation
    issues so that they can cast informed votes in November.

    BC – The 2 busses I would need to get to BART to take to Berkeley are the OX & #51. –Those and Bart to Ashby only cost $3.45 for the 12 mile trip, but I would have to leave my house almost an hour earlier and would not be able to stop at Peets.
    Actually the only 2 options I have to get to work on time (7am) would cost either $5.35 for just one way, or if I wanted to leave at 5:38 am I could do it for just $3.55 one way. – That is just too costly in both time and money.

    It is far more logical to protect the practical limits of vehicle numbers on our roadways. Mass transit may not work for most Alamedans, and therefore development must be limited in respect to our road system and the choke points at the estuary crossings.

    Also important to keep in mind that the whole purpose of the diamond lanes is not to reduce the numbers of vehicles on the roads. If you read the CA Vehicle Code you will learn the purpose and intent is to reduce emissions and protect air quality. Your concept of “punishing” drivers (“to pay with time what we won’t pay with $”) is counter productive to reducing emissions.

    To reduce overall emissions, traffic has to flow, not sit in ‘traffic’ and spew poisonous gasses. Granted, carbon-free fuels will be a huge help, but it looks like there are major greedy impediments to getting clean fuel cars on the road, because electric vehicles apparently don’t need the kind of maintenance and replacement that auto manufacturers want.

    Comment by David Kirwin — October 6, 2008 @ 4:59 pm

  83. How to get Alamedans across the Estuary

    Comment by AlamedaNayTiff — October 6, 2008 @ 8:17 pm

  84. “While I patiently wait to see the study done for a bicycle and pedestrian estuary crossing, …”

    Why is it, DK, that I find it hard to believe that you “patiently” wait for anything?

    ” … can you show me a single study done to estimate ridership of express busses to other cities in Alameda county? ”

    No, I can’t, but then again why should I? Can YOU show ME such a study?

    “Since the express bus line to SF is perhaps the most used bus line in our city, why have our trusted servants not tried to replicate the same level of ridership for other express busses?”

    Again with the asking me what must surely be rhetorical questions – perhaps the cost of subsidizing the express buses is what prevents more routes from being established.

    ” … what I mind is that bus to bus to BART to bus to get to downtown Berkeley is ridiculous, both in time and cost. …”

    Which is what I’ve said as well, & which is why I don’t personally use public transit either. The time (an extra hour each way) you pay for fully each & every day, the fare you only pay a portion of directly – the rest comes out of your taxes to cover the costs that the fare box doesn’t

    “This is exactly the type of statement …”

    The loaded phrase “punishing drivers” is your concoction, not mine. I merely pointed out that no one is “punishing drivers” – there are costs to be paid for driving – congestion is one of the prices paid for too many drivers using a particular stretch of road at the same time.

    “If you can’t learn to do it right, you should not be doing it.”

    Not sure what this means – do you think I’m a politician or someone like that? I can assure you I am not.

    “It is far more logical to protect the practical limits of vehicle numbers on our roadways. …”

    Since you say that the tubes are already congested, I suggest you have already exceeded the “practical limits”, and must therefore do more than stop new development, you must eliminate (ie bulldoze) current housing until the number of vehicles being used by islanders is reduced below “practical limits”. Perhaps you, DK, public-spirited as you are, would like to volunteer to be a “bulldozee”? …No?… I’m not surprised.

    “…the whole purpose of the diamond lanes is not to reduce the numbers of vehicles on the roads …”

    Well of course it is, and any verbage to the contrary is just a fig leaf. To reduce overall emissions (caused by Internal Combustion Engines) you need to reduce the number of Internal Combustion Engines in operation.

    Reducing the number of them operating at idle, while a strategy, is one of the poorest strategies I’ve ever heard of.

    It’s laughable.

    Of course, if you have a car & want to keep driving it no matter what the cost to yourself & others, you may find yourself making a lot of irrational arguments. Good luck.

    Comment by Sidewinder — October 6, 2008 @ 8:57 pm

  85. Yes “sidewinder”, my argument is against overdevelopment, not mass transit. I did not realize you also post under “BC”.

    I also noticed you did not check the CA motor vehicle code, or any of the legislation leading to the creation of the diamond lanes. Because you are obviously just pro-development, it figures you assume the HOV lanes were just made to further the desires of developers not to clean the air, but it IS an air pollution measure, not density mediation, you can read it for yourself.

    Of course after reading the lead article in today’s Trib, why would I ever vote for another transit bond? – The more I give, the more the State taketh away from them. Now that ridership of AC and BART has increased 10%, they decided it is time to raise fares, and decrease number of routes and reduce how often they run.

    BART says they have to increase fares to deter ridership because the State cut their budget and they don’t have enough rail cars for all the riders. And lack the funds to purchase more. I guess the state of obesity of people and budgets mandates that we continue with the huge bench seats.

    But yeah since the more we pay for mass transit, the less we get, I feel I better stick to the economy of my car, and continue to urge our local planners to maintain a modicum of sense and not build more homes than our roadway infrastructure can support. Already we have had big enough lawsuits from Oakland on our impact on them.

    Comment by David David Kirwin — October 6, 2008 @ 10:03 pm

  86. “Yes “sidewinder”, my argument is against overdevelopment, not mass transit. ”

    And yet you wont get transit of any sort without development of some sort to pay for it.

    “I did not realize you also post under “BC”. – ”

    I only post here under the name ‘sidewinder’

    “I also noticed you did not check the CA motor vehicle code …”

    I’ll reassert that, any language to the contrary notwithstanding, the purpose of HOV lanes is to reduce the number of vehicles used on the roadways.

    “…you are obviously just pro-development, …”

    I am not pro-development, I am pro-PRT.

    “…you assume the HOV lanes were just made to further the desires of developers …”

    How do HOV lanes further the desires of developers? I’m missing that connection.

    “…Now that ridership of AC and BART has increased 10%, they decided it is time to raise fares, and decrease number of routes and reduce how often they run. …”

    That’s right – because conventional transit is subsidized, an increase in ridership results in an increase in the amount of subsidies that must be paid.

    That is one of the reasons I support PRT. It is the only form of public transit that has any hope of recovering its costs from the fare box, & even of turning a profit.

    Maybe that’s why Phil Tagami is talking about routing a PRT Line from the old West Oakland Train Station to Oakland Airport.

    Follow the linkie:

    As for the “economy of your car”, that is subsidized too, & if you had to pay the full costs involved you’d drop it like the hot rock it is.

    Comment by Sidewinder — October 6, 2008 @ 10:24 pm

  87. “As for the “economy of your car”, that is subsidized too, & if you had to pay the full costs involved you’d drop it like the hot rock it is..”

    Well my snaky friend, while I think all of us here have written off YOUR version of PRT, my version of PRT is not only reliable, paid for, its use is 100% pay as I go with no subsidy.

    However if you want to help subsidize a newer version of my PRT which still gets me to work on time, quickly, conveniently, and efficiently, I will accept your donation. Perhaps you would subsidize a new plug-in electric PRT for me and a small array of solar panels to match it – that would be hot and would really rock, thanks in advance!

    I guess either a “congratulations” or a “good luck” is in order for your ‘snake oil sale’ to Phil Tagami. We’ll wait with ‘baited breath’ to see how that works out for all.

    Comment by David Kirwin — October 6, 2008 @ 10:48 pm

  88. DK, I am not Sidewinder, just BC. You really are getting a little exercised about all this. There’s really, really no conspiracy against you (at least not one of which I am part). People may independently disagree with you. Is this really so hard to fathom? You earlier wrote, “No matter how loud people scream – some refuse to listen or acknowledge”. This is deeply telling about your perspective…

    Comment by BC — October 7, 2008 @ 8:21 am

  89. # 87

    “Maybe that’s why Phil Tagami is talking about routing a PRT Line from the old West Oakland Train Station to Oakland Airport.”

    “Follow the linkie:

    What a laugh. Not only a PRT pipe dream but if you follow the “linkie” you will also find that:

    Oakland airport downturn leads to job cuts

    Oakland Airport to lose American Airlines and six Southwest flights

    Continental departs Oakland airport

    I bet they cant wait for PRT from west Oakland to take up the slack.

    Comment by Jack Richard — October 7, 2008 @ 8:44 am

  90. Dave, from a July 20th press release from the City (note that your cite was not an official City agency, but a separate nonprofit)

    “Today the Alameda Reuse and Redevelopment Authority (ARRA) announced the completion of its obligations under the Conditional Acquisition Agreement (CAA) with Alameda Point Community Partners (APCP) for Alameda Point. Pursuant to the terms of the CAA, the ARRA prepared, and the ARRA Board accepted, a Preliminary Development Concept for the site, and the ARRA negotiated a draft term sheet with the Navy outlining a property conveyance strategy.”

    I believe that there is a very significant difference between accepting a document and actually approving it, and since the City never approved the PDC, there is no compelling reason or authority for Suncal to stick to its flawed recomendations.

    Comment by notadave — October 7, 2008 @ 8:59 am

  91. On a related topic: I just read the Agreement between Alameda and Oakland re Chinatown traffic impacts, dated 4/19/04, and it’s only applicable to Phase I of the then current Alameda Point project, which included 1000 houses.

    In other words, the Oakland Chinatown Chamber of Commerce and Asian Health Services could file suit against the current SunCal project if the number of houses exceeds 1000. As I understand it, the Agreement allows Alameda to go thru the planning process we’re in now, but when we get to the EIR, I think at that point OCCC and AHS can start taking action.

    The Agreement describes various mitigations of the tube traffic that were considered, leading ultimately to re-routing of the traffic around Chinatown — that could take awhile, I’d think. So any final plan w/ SunCal could be delayed by another lawsuit, that’s a possibility, and it could require some major mitigations. I don’t think this was listed as a constraint in the PDC — it needs to be recognized somewhere as a factor.

    And the TE: I didn’t see anything about this agreement. It’s amazing how many factors there are that mitigate against growth, but the true believers are not deterred.

    Comment by DL Morrison — October 7, 2008 @ 10:35 am

  92. Here’s the link to the Agreement:

    See paragraph 1.4.2, Right to Challenge or Oppose.

    Comment by DL Morrison — October 7, 2008 @ 10:37 am

  93. Jack – it is true that airlines, and so airports, are having a tough time in these tough times. It is also true that air travel, like car travel, isnt going to go away overnight so the airport is going remain a major, congested, destination for a lot of people. PRT is the one form of public transit that has the potential to provide high capacity, straight to the door service that turns a profit.

    This project also indicates that there is support for PRT on the other side of the estuary & at least partially answers DK’s question about how the politics could be handled on the Oakland side.

    Comment by Sidewinder — October 7, 2008 @ 8:30 pm

  94. #90 Jack – The other article that caught my eye on the “linkie” in #87 was the article that in ’02 BART got approval for their plan to extend BART to Oakland Airport, with service starting in ’08 – For some reason I have never seen the station at the airport, or the one ok’d for Dolittle Dr. Can’t wait to reuse that west oakland train station – Think of all the relics a museum there could hold. This must be a joke from Tagami, really who’s selling the snake oil?

    After watching the CC mtg tonight, I sure have to vote for Obama – I’m gonna need the tax break so I can afford to pay the increases in local taxes….

    Comment by dk — October 8, 2008 @ 12:04 am

  95. “95 DK

    “I sure have to vote for Obama – I’m gonna need the tax break so I can afford to pay the increases in local taxes….”

    “…really who’s selling the snake oil?”

    Looks like you’ll buy anything too if it’s put in the right context.

    Comment by Jack Richard — October 8, 2008 @ 8:15 am

  96. […] Bus Rapid Transit, the world’s most successful transit service, has proven controversial in Berkeley, with bus opponents launching an initiative to “leave our streets alone” (I am part of the campaign against this measure). Heated rhetoric aside, this is a major transportation improvement that deserves more attention from Oaklanders and policy-makers. North Oaklanders, and indeed anyone who plans to ever take transit to North Oakland destinations not adequately served by BART (like Temescal or Koreatown), are invited to learn more about the proposal tomorrow. (Thanks for the reminder, Becks!) […]

    Pingback by Three important transportation meetings « FutureOakland — October 10, 2008 @ 2:42 pm

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