It is hard to understand how California can afford to fund a Berkeley ferry when the state budget is in the red and public transportation is in danger of not getting the funding it needs. I don’t understand why we need a ferry to San Francisco when BART suffers from a lack of riders, as does AC Transit. According to this Berkeleyside article, many people still ride the buses and BART and need them.
Why divert funds from transportation that is vital to many low-income people who need it to get to work and whose transportation is in danger of disappearing and at the same time use Berkeley dollars to get a limited number of people to San Francisco on a ferry that will cost millions, when a great many are choosing to work at home and choosing not go to San Francisco. If BART needs riders, why would a ferry succeed at this transition time for people mainly working remotely? Where is the parking for those who would want to use the ferry? We need to look at the big picture: The changing trends in workers’ needs, budget needs and the need for analysis as to the actual outcome of the ferry plan which is, I suppose, meant to cut down on automobile freeway pollution.
We also face no parking at the North Berkeley and Ashby BART stations when the 12-story apartment houses will be built. This means fewer riders on BART as opposed to the planners’ assumption that people in those buildings will not own cars and will not commute by car. The decision to build on the BART parking lots could be the end of BART because you can’t force people not to own cars and assume they are working in San Francisco or elsewhere and are commuting from Berkeley. No parking for those who live in parts of Berkeley far from the BART stations, means people will not ride BART.
This plan does not look at the big picture. In this case, it’s the state that is forcing us to build more apartments, no matter if we have the infrastructure to support all of these people. But in the case of the ferry, the push is coming from the City Council, and it’s another example of a need for envisioning the larger picture that reflects the trends and needs of our Berkeley population. The same ignorance was demonstrated in planning the bike lanes on Hopkins to the tune of the $200,000 that we paid with our property taxes, because the planners failed to consult with the fire department before proceeding.
If we need ways for people to get to San Francisco to work and want to cut back on pollution from the large number of cars commuting, how about the cities of Berkeley, Oakland and El Cerrito putting their heads together to get AC Transit to increase buses and minivans to San Francisco and making it inexpensive for riders to use them to entice them out of their cars. In addition, pass legislation that means corporations that insist on their workers commuting to San Francisco, will have to pay a transportation tax for the extra buses and minivans. Also, we can make it a requirement for these corporations to provide vans for workers.
Let’s do more than “virtue signaling” with a ferry which is an ineffectual solution to the problem of providing transportation and reducing freeway pollution and still has to pass environmental regulation oversight.
Dorothea Dorenz is a longtime Berkeley resident and retired adult school and Berkeley City College art instructor who also had a private practice in bodywork massage and movement therapy for people with back problems. She lives in District 1.