Letters to the Editor 

Week of May 18, 2001

Bench Warmer
TO THE EDITOR:The Bay Area has an amazing number of extremely talented DJs, and an even more amazing number of skillful-but-not-amazing folks. Because of this, beginner DJs tend to practice at home until their beat-matching skills are perfected. This is why Chris Baty won't often hear the extremely obvious mistakes he was hoping for ("The Metronome Diary," May 11).

Plus, not to be rude, but anyone new enough to refer to all forms of electronic dance music as "house" may not recognize such mistakes when they happen. I know I didn't, when I was new. But it's pretty obvious when you're deep into the trance of dancing, focused only on the music and the movement.
J.D. Falk

Grumbling Under the Hot 100
TO THE EDITOR:The Express generally presents a level of journalism (especially with Gina Arnold gone!!) which is why I read the whole paper every week. I don't know who Roger Hahn is ("Swing Is the Thing," May 11), but calling Donald Harrison Jr. "maybe the most interesting, most accessible, and most adventurous jazz musician in the country" is not only bad, unresearched journalism, but it's an insult to the readers' intelligence!

There is nothing wrong with Mr. Harrison. He is a great player and his music is played on a high level. But there is nothing adventurous about him. I could name 100 musicians playing "interesting, adventurous, and accessible music," and he is not one of them! It's hard enough for those of us who try to do something different. Please don't give the credit to those who don't!
Damon Smith

Bus Stop, Bus Goes/ She Stays up Close
TO THE EDITOR:I can answer some of David Weitzman's questions ("Letters," May 11) about how much one could buy with the $8 million it would cost for 250 parking spaces. The parking spaces would have an absolute capacity of 250 cars, or about 1,000 seats, although typically, there are 1.2 riders per car, so the parking spaces could be expected to handle 300 people at a time.

Eight million dollars would buy about thirty 40-foot buses, each with about forty seats and an additional standing capacity of about twenty more passengers. That is a total capacity of 1,200 seated passengers and 600 standees at a time. However, this means something different for a bus than for a parking space. In one trip, a bus can accommodate additional passengers as earlier passengers leave the bus at their destination. A parked car keeps anyone else from using its space when its passengers are not in it. So, for instance, if everyone parked for an hour in this hypothetical lot, bringing at most 1,000 riders, during the same time, these thirty buses could take 3,600 passengers or more to and from downtown Berkeley from the farthest reaches of the city.

Mr. Weitzman is concerned about the cost of operating the bus. He could look at $8 million in another way: $8 million, invested at a modest return of 5 percent, would generate enough money to buy bus passes every month for about 680 adult riders in perpetuity.

He was also concerned about parking the buses. AC Transit has about 8,000 stops, each about the size of two parking spaces, that each accommodate an average of about thirty passengers per day. Estimates are that each car, accommodating 1.2 riders on the average, needs a minimum of about five parking spaces. So people traveling by car use at least sixty parking spaces for every space used by a bus rider. The number of spaces needed to store the buses is a maximum of sixty, although if some of them ran all the time, it would be fewer. There are parking spaces needed to store and maintain cars, as well. That is part of the reason they need so much space.

One of Mr. Weitzman's other concerns was for disabled people. The Americans with Disabilities Act guarantees that disabled people have access to mass transit, no matter what their disability. Every bus made today can accommodate people with disabilities that would bar them from even entering an automobile, and every transit agency is required to provide paratransit for those people who cannot get on a transit vehicle, a requirement that the automobile industry could easily satisfy as well. Until it does, saying that an automobile is a necessity for disabled people is hypocritical.
Bruce De Benedictis

...And Leave the Griping to Us
TO THE EDITOR:My attention was drawn to a letter from David M. Weitzman, of Orinda, in the May 11 issue. He was commenting on the "E Meets P" article in the April 20 issue.

As a bus rider and public transit advocate, I don't like being polarized into conflict with business people. There is a conflict, but it's not enviros-vs-polluters. It's a conflict between two belief systems.

Belief #1 says that retail customers will come only by car. If parking is not available, the customers will drive elsewhere to do their shopping. Implied in this attitude is the additional belief that public transit will never deliver enough customers, because public transit riders are mostly the poor.

Belief #2 says that a substantial number of the car-borne really want to get away from congestion, and would abandon cars for transit if only the transit were available and reliable. Implied in this attitude is the additional belief that public policy subsidizes car drivers with wide streets and parking spaces, and keeps transit funding at just enough to take care of the poor.

Weitzman claims that the enviros are looking out only for "young, healthy people who have no children or disabilities, and who are physically able to either ride a bike, or who have the time on their hands to wait 45 minutes for a bus."

Well, it is a fact that the E's were big supporters of Measure B, last November, after the expenditure plan boosted the allocation of paratransit--the special service of the elderly and disabled.

I think the phrase "time on their hands" makes it clear what the real objection is. The evil enviros want to force people to torture themselves with an inadequate transit system, when they should be able to get about much quicker and more conveniently by car. Sure, why not, as long as there is space for the cars. But there isn't; that's why we have the congestion.

"Is there any real hard evidence whatsoever to support Wrenn's statement that more parking encourages more cars?" People simply could not clog our streets with cars as they now do, unless they know that parking is available where they are going. Streets and parking are what make the dominance of the automobile possible. To me, that's very obvious, "hard" evidence.

I think anyone who now commutes by car to and from work alone, carrying no more baggage that fits in a briefcase or knapsack, should be strongly encouraged to become a public transit rider.
Steve Geller


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