Letters for October 21 

Readers sound off on the Lost Runner, Oakland parking, the BART connector, community colleges, and more.

"A Solution to Parking in Oakland?" Full Disclosure, 9/2

We Should Discourage Parking

I find it ironic that the Oakland City Council may be backing down on the extension of metered parking to 8 p.m. Here, in the environmentally friendly Bay Area, we should be a leader in progressive green policies. People are accustomed (addicted?) to cheap or free parking. That needs to change. Driving is of course convenient, and easy parking is important for neighborhood businesses. But driving has many negative impacts and "externalities," from global climate change all the way down to injured pedestrians, pollution from tires and oil, the encouragement of sprawl, etc. Slowly but steadily increasing the cost of driving may be difficult politically, but it is the right thing to do (and not just because the city needs the money).

Stephen Knight, Oakland

Editor's Note

Since this letter was submitted, the city council did roll back the later hours.

"There's No One in Charge," Full Disclosure, 9/23

An Expensive Boondoggle

In his article on the proposed BART connector to Oakland Airport, Robert Gammon calls AirBART "a rinky-dink airport shuttle service that is vulnerable to bad traffic and inconvenient for families with small children." That may be true, but one thing he fails to point out is that the round-trip fare on the new elevated tramway will be $12 per person — and that's on top of your BART fare. With those prices, it's likely that most families would opt to take a taxi or shuttle service or just park at the airport. The tramway is an expensive boondoggle, and the Port of Oakland, as well as Alameda County residents, should say "no thanks."

Sue Trowbridge, Alameda

Why Make a Bad System Worse?

Why do we need anything other than what we have now to get people between BART and the Oakland Airport? AirBART may be vulnerable to bad traffic, but so is getting to BART in the first place, and once you get there, it takes so much time getting to the Coliseum Station from just about anywhere else that shortening the time to get to the airport would be significant. AirBART may be inconvenient for families with small children, but not any more so than BART itself is. After all, the biggest inconvenience could be transferring from BART to any sort of shuttle, especially with children and luggage.

There are other options already: taxis and door-to-airport shuttles, as well as being dropped off at the airport. All of these are more convenient than taking BART to any sort of shuttle, and will almost certainly take less time, even if one could be beamed directly to the airport from the BART station.

Bruce De Benedictis, Oakland

Singapore Does It Right

Even prior to when I got on the BART Board (seventeen years ago) the Oakland Airport Connector was under consideration. About sixteen years ago, BART seriously considered the connector and conducted an extensive study with several alternatives. One was a bus alternative. However it was not an exclusive lane busway but one similar to the 1R and 72R Rapid Bus that AC Transit currently operates. These lines operate in mixed-flow, have limited stops, and signal priority. But in mixed-flow, the volume of traffic affects the bus' use of signal priority. Under congested conditions, buses are not able to take full advantage of the signal priority because many times there are so many cars lined up at signals the buses cannot pass through in the allocated priority time provided.

The Airport Rapid bus alternative would have encountered considerable delays when there were events at the Coliseum. On this study, both professor S. Lewis (who was on the BART Board at this time) and I objected to this study, for the bus alternative did not consider a full exclusive lane busway for it would have eliminated this signal delay with full application of the busway. Even later studies did not study the full use of the exclusive lane busway alternative routed along Hegenburger Road. The airport's advertised priority development is to construct 5,000-6,000 cars [of] structured parking, which would cost at least four times more than the $25 million they were contributing. Accommodating parking would encourage auto use, the very element that we are currently trying to minimize under the pending problem of climate change.

In regards to funding, of this half-a-billion-dollar project, the only beneficiary as planned would be the airport who originally contributed only $25 million. Subsequently, the City of Oakland contributed $19 million with a suggestion that a couple of stops be provided along the connector's route so that area along the route would benefit from this project. However, the two stops are being disregarded for presently it is planned that there will be no additional stops other than the airport.

To add a stop with the planned automated guideway transit would cost a couple million for it would require an elevator to accommodate the disabled, plus stairs, added electronic controls, and perhaps a bypass, and the added cost of maintenance after it is built. Whereas an added stop with the busway would be a fraction of an AGT stop.

Regarding planning, I very much agree with Mayor Bates; planning and transportation is currently being administered politically by separate agencies and the projects they manage are not fully considered and integrated.

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