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Looking beyond BRT's big rhetorical theater

RUN WITH THE CROWD

Brandau knew he had a winner of a political issue. Shortly after the Jan. 28 council meeting, he videotaped a brief explanation of his vote and posted it on his Facebook page.

“I voted no, and I’ll tell you one of the reasons I voted no,” Brandau said. “A buddy of mine sent an article to me today from the Investors Business Daily – just fresh today, talking about Los Angeles’ mass transit fiasco. Apparently there’s fewer people riding transit in Los Angeles.

“One of the quotes in here from The Times says, ‘Transit agencies are still trying to figure out where the riders have gone and what it will take to bring them back.’ That’s from The Times. Another quote from this article says, ‘The problem here isn’t that transit has been underfunded. We spend a lot of money on transit. The city’s ongoing public disaster points to a bigger problem – having government make these kinds of investments in the first place. Investments that are driven more by log-rolling politicians and fanciful visions of changing behavior rather than actual consumer demand.’

“Now we have one of these projects right here in Fresno. When some of my council colleagues took me to task, I asked our city manager, ‘Is (has) Fresno lost transit ridership?’ And indeed we have. He admitted that in front of the public.

“One of my problems here is that transit is only used by about 3.5% of all of the people in Fresno County; 96.5% of us use the roadways. Our roadways are falling apart everywhere, all across Fresno County, whether in the cities or in the county. Our roadways are falling apart even in beautiful Northwest Fresno, where I represent. But we’re not fixing those roadways. Instead, we’re spending $34 million on a transit system for relatively few folks.

“Look, I’m not against transit, and there’s a lot of ways I would help fix Fresno’s bus system. But it’s a huge investment – especially way over budget – and it’s not something I wanted to vote for today. And I thought you should know about it. Unfortunately, only Councilman Brand joined me, so it was passed 5-2. It’s going to happen.

“But I voted no, and I did that with a clear conscience.”

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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