The past week has seen a flurry of activity around the Wilshire BRT. LA Streetsblog has done a great job of covering it all as it has unfolded. The Condo Canyon private traffic study rapidly upgraded, with the help of some key political players, from a shady contract study to a directive that Metro staff rethink that section of Wilshire. Richard Katz, Zev Yaroslavsky, and Paul Koretz all made statements to the press that the Condo Canyon section should come out. Almost immediately, Metro asked the FTA to approve a project revision, and within days the FTA said yes. I personally found this very disheartening; I had scrambled to put together a letter to the FTA which was signed by a practically unprecedented range of transportation activists. Before we could even send the letter, the FTA had granted Metro's request to change the project. You can still read the letter, which is in .pdf form at this Streetsblog article, which is a pretty good overview of the whole drama.
Things were looking down for the BRT, when Bruins for Transit took to the streets and collected 135 petitions supporting the original BRT project. They got signatures, email addresses, and zip codes from bus riders living in every single one of the five county supervisorial districts. Via twitter, facebook, this blog, and the LA Subway Blog, at least 47 emails have been sent to Metro Board members in support of the original project. The Bus Rider's Union got moving; theywill be coming out in force on Thursday to keep the bus-only lanes intact.
Today started with some bad news: the Brentwood "Community Council" saw that loud rich neighborhoods can get out of bus-only lanes and went ahead and made their own request to be excluded from the project. Hmm, see where this is going?
The Brentwood Community Council should check their math, though. Or maybe just their notion of fairness. They complain that the BRT will "take away 1/3 of the roadway from cars." Well, they should remember that 80,000 motorists use Wilshire everyday, and so do over 80,000 bus riders. So if we're going to divvy up the roadway fairly, buses should really get half. This project gives buses less than that, at only 1/3 through this section. And just to be nice, it still lets turning cars use the bus only lanes. Oh, and the bus-only lanes only last for peak hours, 7-9 AM and 4-7 PM. So we're actually only dedicating (1/3)*(5/24) = 7% of the space to buses. On a corridor where bus riders are half of the travelers.
On the other hand, today ended with some good news: the Bicycle Advisory Committee of the City of LA moved to support the original project.
To summarize, the scorecard on the Wilshire BRT is now:
Team Keep the BRT Whole: 47 emails, 135 street petitions, and one Citizen's Advisory Committee
Team Destroy the BRT One Rich Neighborhood at a Time: 2 Neighborhood Councils, 1 Rabbi, 1 County Supervisor (Yaroslavsky), 1 City Councilmember (Koretz) 1 Other Metro Board Member (Richard Katz), 1 FTA Regional Rep Leslie Rogers
Team Undecided: 1 Mayor, 4 County Supervisors, 1 Metro CEO, 4 Metro Board Representatives from Duarte, Glendale, Santa Monica, and Lakewood, 14 City Council Members
We only have until Thursday morning so the time to start your pro-BRT engine is now. Send a letter if you haven't yet. If you already sent a letter, call your county supervisor and pressure them to take a stand on this. (Let us know how your phone calls go in the comments :)
Ready, set gooooo!
Letter writing tools:
http://www.lasubwayblog.com/2010/12/email-metro-board-of-directors-to.html (QUICK AND EASY)