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Editorial: Think outside the bus

Posted: August 4th, 2012 | Opinion, Opinion & News | 1 Comment

Residents and businesses in our Core/Columbia/Little Italy neighborhood are not against rapid transit. We want more people to have easy, affordable access to Downtown and all it has to offer.
However, most are opposed to SANDAG’s new Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) plan for Downtown and so are California’s Attorney General Kamala D. Harris and three well-known environmental groups. They all agree BRT in our Downtown is a poor use of resources and have joined in a lawsuit opposing SANDAG’s 2050 Regional Transportation Plan.

SANDAG’s Downtown BRT plan focuses almost solely on the concerns of MTS bus drivers and schedules, while overlooking the adverse impact it will have on thousands of residents who have helped create vibrant, vertical, urban neighborhoods which have attracted hundreds of small, thriving businesses.

SANDAG’s plan calls for four-dozen buses – many 60 feet long and weighing over 2 million pounds, empty – to caravan up and down Broadway, day and night. The buses would loop through the neighborhoods en route to a nearby giant bus lot – site to be determined – for brief layover stops. Bus drivers currently park curbside for breaks, which is preferred by residents to the visual and environmental blight of a bloated bus lot belching out a bus every few minutes as another bus replaces it, 21 hours a day.

SANDAG’s plan will waste 24 million of our taxpayer dollars on new, redundant BRT stations and other superfluous cosmetic changes to Broadway – dollars more wisely spent on shoring up its crumbling infrastructure.

Billions of dollars will be squandered on freeway expansions to build an additional BRT freeway lane and create more sprawl and pollution in the process.

Attorney General Harris asserted: “The 3.2 million residents of the San Diego region already suffer the 7 th worst ozone pollution in the country. Spending our transit dollars in the right way today will improve the economy, create sustainable jobs and ensure that future generations do not continue to suffer from heavily polluted air.”

L.A. and San Francisco have already taken the lead to put the health needs of their residents first by investing in more rail transit, while SANDAG moves San Diego backwards with a bus plan that will cause climate-change-inducing emissions to go up in the coming decades, and ironically calls it “smart growth.”

For the past year, our Little Italy/Core/Columbia neighborhoods have kept opposition to SANDAG’s plan front and center, with community meetings, emails, petitions, press coverage in the form of newspaper, television, radio and a press conference with our City Council representative, Kevin Faulconer, who supports our cause. We have brought our opposition and alternate solutions in person to SANDAG’s Transportation Committee and Board of Directors and are even offering guided tours of our area to further reinforce our position.

Ultimately, we want SANDAG to reconsider its plan and invest our tax dollars in cleaner, safer, faster rail transit with buses and connectors in supporting roles, and build no bus lots in any Downtown neighborhoods. Please help us direct our local representatives on the SANDAG and ask them to vote for long-term transit value that promotes a healthier San Diego:

Ron Roberts, County Supervisor: ron-roberts@sdcounty.ca.gov
Mayor Jerry Sanders: jerrysanders@sandiego.gov
Anthony Young, City Council president: tyoung@san.org
Todd Gloria, City Councilmember: toddgloria@sandiego.gov
Lorie Zapf, City Councilmember: loriezapf@sandiego.gov
– Anne MacMillan Eichman, president, Little Italy Residents Association (LIRA). Anne can be reached at aeichman1@cox.net.

One Comments

  1. Marc Lepen says:

    I agree, I really dont understand this whole BRT thing, even for the south bay region of Chula Vista and National City. The rail line is what needs to be extended and bus connectors to service this population, not noisy, underfilled or overcrowded buses that cause more traffic. SANDAG refusual to put the trolley where its needed is really mind boggling to say the least, it doesnt go to our airport, it doesnt go to Harbor or Shelter Islands, it doesnt go to Sea World or even our most famed beaches, instead its a rail system that practicually goes no-where….LRV need to be development and implemented instead of BRT!

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