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AC Transit Sells BRT As Jobs Magnet

Town Hall format provided in-depth look at this 'trolley-on-tires' but offered no forum for public objection. Mayor Stephen Cassidy said the City Council will consider the BRT in April.

 

(Editor's note: Patch reader Peggy Combs recently published an overview of the project for those just tuning in the issue. .)

A well-attended town hall meeting Thursday night gave AC Transit a forum to promote its Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) plan as a futuristic project that will bring short-term jobs and long-term investment to the East Bay.

More than 75 San Leandrans attended the meeting in the City Hall complex. The format was ideal for the district: posters describing the project's advantages lined the walls. AC Transit staff stood by to answer questions. Two giant maps of the route through San Leandro were spread out on tables. AC Transit project manager Jim Cunradi showed a video promoting the BRT as blending the speediness of trains with the lower cost of busses.

Unlike a public hearing, the format gave attendees a chance to ask the question that has stirred opposition in the north end of town: must AC Transit run dedicated bus lines and concrete barriers four blocks into San Leandro when small portion of the route will cause parking and turn lane inconveniences?

Mayor Stephen Cassidy briefly addresed the gathering, saying the BRT would come before the City Council in April. The council can influence the course of the project in San Leandro. Also speaking briefly at the meeting Thursday night were Councilwoman Pauline Cutter and Vice Mayor Michael Gregory, the elected officials arguably the least and most favorably disposed toward the BRTt.

Cunradi talked about the jobs potential of the BRT. He said it could inject $200 million into the local economy, create 300 construction jobs over the three-year installation process and an estimated 400 retail and support jobs.

The project would also repave 10 miles of heavily used streets, while AC Transit's "Buy American" policy would ensure that dollars aren't exported, he said.

The biggest potential -- and also the most speculative -- impacts of the project would be the prospect that the BRT would draw investment to the International Boulevard/East 14th Street corridor of Oakland.

Cunradi held up Cleveland's BRT as the model for the economic revitalization of a tough urban corridor that had attracted $4.3 billion in real estate investment to that Ohio city.

Other examples of rapid transit lines (and their economic impact) include: Pittsburgh ($300 million), Boston ($700 million) and Ottawa, Canada ($1 billion).

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Terri March 03, 2012 at 07:04 PM
Amend the plan to exclude San Leandro! For the life of me I still can't figure out why it was even entertained after being reduced to a 4 block 'invasion' of elevated lanes. But it seems the enticement of "free" money to fix 10 miles of streets was the buy in. Sure, it's pretty ... it's pretty inconvenient to those of us who live in the affected area. North End already has Bart noise, gun fire, and street shows. We don't need another obstacle for our neighborhoods.
Leah Hall March 03, 2012 at 07:32 PM
Get people out of their cars. Public transit, walking, and biking will all be supported by the street and sidewalk improvements coming with BRT. May the North area be a leader and model for future investment in our East Bay regional corridors.
Barry Kane March 03, 2012 at 09:02 PM
Oh yeah, SL residents are going to come in droves to ride thru East Oakland's most gritty and dangerous areas on International Gunfire Blvd.. :-( Lest we forget...We already have BART in the same area to go to Downtown Oakland and Berkeley.
Mike March 03, 2012 at 10:04 PM
Years ago Berkeley tried to get people out of their cars by restricting the amount of parking spaces in new developments. Only thing it did was make parking in downtown Berkeley tougher.
Fran March 03, 2012 at 10:06 PM
And we also have sidewalks, and some bike lanes already! I'd like to see San Leandro join other cities in updating crosswalks to 1) have a walk signal without having to push a button, and 2) employ the countdown timers (the only one I see working is Bancroft and Callan). These simple fixes would increase safety for pedestrians, bikers and drivers alike.
David March 03, 2012 at 10:23 PM
Roughly $300,000 per job IF it comes in on budget. Why not just give some random unemployed people $200,000 and save money?
Leah Hall March 03, 2012 at 10:51 PM
"An 'Aha!' moment." - a pic and quote posted by George Takei (Mr. Sulu) on his Facebook page today. ;-) Just scroll through the photos for a bit of light-hearted fun.
anthony March 03, 2012 at 11:40 PM
"There are three kinds of lies... lies, damned lies, and statistics. " (unknown)* Going with the benefit of the doubt and assuming sarcasm here; wrapping the whole cost/benefit equation of the project into jobs alone is beyond narrow minded.
David March 04, 2012 at 12:13 AM
Anthony, I'm not the one "pitching" this project as a "jobs" program (which it's not) nor a cost-effective improvement in transit speeds (it's not) nor as a way to improve (gentrify) retailing on e.14 (it won't), nor safety improvements (it won't), nor as a way to increase density and population along the corridor (it won't). So, how is this likely-to-be half billion dollar project worth you spending an incremental portion of your working life on? I have a proposal that will speed transit times and cost less money and also get people out of their cars. Make the 1R free. No more fumbling for cash or expired transfers. If the busses become "too crowded" then consider implementing this kind of plan (and where tickets are purchased outside the bus, like Bart). But if the riders don't materialize (and they won't), then forget about it and we've saved millions and millions of our hard-earned wages.
Brash Brazen March 04, 2012 at 06:18 AM
You can attribute that quote to British Prime Minister Benjamin Disraeli !!!!!

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