Looking beyond BRT's big rhetorical theater


At first it looked like Steve Brandau and I were on the same side.


It turns out we couldn’t be further apart.

The wedge: Bus Rapid Transit – BRT for short.

Brandau, of course, is the Fresno City Council member representing District 2 in Northwest Fresno. I live in a county island in Northwest Fresno. Brandau and I bump into each other occasionally.

We always get along. I like to think I get along with all of the council members. They consistently do good work under tough conditions.

I had written a story for CVObserver in December on Bradau’s view of ARTIC – the Anaheim Regional Transportation Intermodal Center. As the name suggests, ARTIC is a public transit hub in Southern California. It cost big bucks to build. It has yet to fulfill its promises.

Brandau at the Dec. 10 council meeting criticized ARTIC as a prime example of government waste in pursuit of lofty dreams. My story resonated with readers. They praised Brandau.

Fast forward to February. Brandau and I crossed paths again. He told me I had missed a compelling council meeting on Jan. 28. The issue of note, he said, was BRT. Brandau suggested I might want to review the videotape and write another public transportation story.

Brandau left no doubt that he had treated BRT with the same firmness that he had treated ARTIC in his December remarks. His implication: I’d get a kick out of his BRT remarks, as well.

I said I would check out the video.

It took some time, but I finally got around to covering all the bases needed to write the Brandau/BRT story. My story’s hook is simple:

1.) Brandau hates BRT – says it’s a huge waste of taxpayer money.

2.) Brandau says BRT money – nearly $33 million and counting – would be better spent on fixing Fresno’s roads.

3.) Brandau says he has the highest regard for Fresno Area Express (FAX), our city’s bus system.

4.) Brandau says he has a bunch of sure-fire ideas for improving FAX.

5.) Brandau says hardly anyone rides FAX compared to other types of transportation – mainly personal cars.

6.) I’ve come to see BRT as a blessing.

  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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