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Looking beyond BRT's big rhetorical theater

FRESNO DRIVERS IN HADES

Council Members Oliver Baines, Clint Olivier, Sal Quintero and Esmeralda Soria are BRT advocates.

Quintero at the Jan. 28 meeting: “I know we’re looking forward to the changes on the Kings Canyon/Ventura corridor. It’s really important for the ridership we have there. I really appreciate all the hard work.”

Olivier: BRT probably won’t attract hipsters, but “it’s still something that shows this organization’s commitment to the people who live along Blackstone Avenue and who live near Blackstone Avenue. Let’s try it and see how it goes.”

Baines: “People in Fresno actually do ride buses. I don’t see this as a wild, reckless investment at all.”

Soria: “This is a good project for our community.”

Council President Paul Caprioglio voted yes, but was content to ride herd on a debate that threatened sometimes to tumble out of control.

Brandau and Brand were skeptics.

Brand didn’t like BRT’s big price tag. He wanted to know why the low bid came in so much higher than the engineer’s estimate and the official budget.

In essence, the administration said: 1.) the original estimate was not based on reality; 2.) the city will stay within the budget thanks to “value engineering;” 3) the higher price tag can be handled with ease if the city gets the Measure C grant (which is a definite possibility).

Brand said it’s “convoluted logic” to take a bunch of stuff out of the BRT plan in the name of value engineering, then try to put it back in with a grant. He said it would be smarter to put everything back out to bid, even if this adds months to the timeline.

“I would rather have a final product that has all the stuff we really want in it,” Brand said. “The more we’re ratcheting down, the less likely we’re going to be successful. If we’re going to do it, in other words, let’s do it right.”

Brandau pretty much had the final word. He said he had recently taken a FAX bus from Northwest Fresno to the Fresno City College area. He said ridership varied from two to about a dozen. He said City Hall should be focusing on improving the existing FAX system and fixing Fresno’s streets.

Brandau: “The rest of us are suffering like hell out on those roads.”

George Hostetter
George Hostetter is The Sun’s Fresno Civic contributor – covering the City of Fresno, County of Fresno, and Fresno Council of Governments.

3 Comments

  1. Take some time to read the UN Agenda 21 recommendations with regard to ‘sustainability’ and ‘smart growth’ and then think about what you are seeing unfold here in Fresno. Agenda 21 mandates are being funneled on down to every city in the United States by our politicians in Sacramento and Washington D.C. Become informed about the strings attached to funding of HUD/ transportation projects and then report back in your blog. People are suspect of politicians who are intent on spending these large sums of money because of the kind of ‘ misappropriation’ that, as an example, has occurred in the Cal Trans agency. The ‘smart growth’ goal is to stack people up in high density living arrangements; get them out of their cars and onto a bus in order to save the environment. Some say this is yet another way to discourage ownership of private property by making it cost prohibitive to own a home or even a car. Maybe Councilman Brandau is actually representing some of the taxpayers and citizens which would be a rarity these days.

  2. Being a longtime Fresno resident and having been involved in the new technology transit industry for 20 years, it is particularly infuriating to read about Fresno’s fight over its proposed BRT, which incidentally is changing its name to “the express bus” due to its slow speed and non-rapid classification. The story merely represents more rhetoric regarding an outdated issue with a frozen claim that the issue is new.

    For 10 years Fresno has had a $36million fund to address a rational approach to modern transportation issues that appropriately concern urban growth. What has Fresno done with the $36million fund? Nothing. The PTB (powers that be – politicians and staff) are absolutely unwilling to even talk about a modern solution to transportation issues. That is: to refuse and entertain a conversation. Why? Perhaps it is nothing more than the psychology of being afraid to approach something different or new. This dereliction of response to responsibly is devastating and harmful to the community. No one wins with Fresno’s intensely hostile attitude of selective ignorance. There are many examples of this purposely hostile attitude against viable transportation solutions.

    Talk about infuriating, one of the current mayoral candidates declared at a 2007 New Technology Transit Reserve Fund meeting when he personally said to me: “I don’t know anything about New Technology Transit and I don’t want to know anything about New Technology Transit.” This type of attitude is reprehensible.

    Last week, COG released its RFP for a portion of the Measure C New Technology Transit Reserve Fund Grant. The New Tech Fund is geared towards PRT (personal rapid transit) system technology. As yet, no local municipalities are participating to advance any PRT system technology. Fresno was approached for a project but, claimed no interest to consider modern transportation solutions.

  3. Thanks George. As always, an interesting read. “Smart growth” and “Sustainability” as an Agenda 21 movement is in the minds of conspiracy advocates. Sustainability simply deals with being able to sustain development in the future. Sprawl is not sustainable. If you want evidence of this, look no further than LA.

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