UC Berkeley Employees Push Cheaper, Easier Transportation





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Campus unions and employee associations announced Wednesday a plan to make UC Berkeley more commuter friendly.

A union committee said it wants to give all faculty and staff members AC Transit and BART passes paid for by the university, as well as create a task force to improve transportation policies.

Fueled by a petition signed by 1,400 UC Berkeley faculty, staff and students, the union is challenging the university to devise better parking and transportation options for its employees.

Local politicians and UC Berkeley employees suggested solutions to a variety of parking and transportation problems, including increased parking rates and fewer parking spaces.

Speakers said transit issues will be further complicated by large building projects and Tidal Wave II, the anticipated influx of students and faculty over the next several years.

Other universities such as UCLA and San Jose State University have already implemented transportation policies similar to the programs the union association proposed yesterday.

"If San Jose State and UCLA can do this, you can do this," said Matt Williams, president of the Board of AC Transit.

Williams said AC Transit is open to talking with UC to develop an improved transportation plan. He said he wants to discourage the university from building more parking lots and bringing in an onslaught of commuters.

"If you build them they will come," he said.

Opposing the union committee's plan, UC Berkeley Director of Transportation Nadesan Permaul said the solution to Berkeley's transportation and parking problem is to build more parking spaces. UC Berkeley earned $2,582,284 in net revenue from parking fees in 2000. All of the revenue was allocated to the construction of more parking spaces, Permaul said.

"Maybe the real demand in this community is not for transit but for parking," he said.

An AC Transit pass program, similar to the one currently offered to UC Berkeley students, is not a realistic option, Permaul said. The Class Pass system only works because UC Berkeley students voted for and pay for the pass with their campus registration fees, he said.

The city recently launched a trial program similar to Class Pass for its employees.

Loni Hancock, a candidate for the 14th district assembly seat, was on hand to promote meeting the Federal Clean Air Act standards. Current regulations are not up to par in the Bay Area, Hancock said, agreeing with the union subcommittee that more parking spaces are not the solution to the university's transportation problems.

"Simply building 10-story garages is not going to help the air," she said.

Although the university favors creating more parking spaces rather than investing more money in public transportation, city and union officials said the faculty and staff should not have to pay burdensome transit fees.

"The value of getting a bus pass will probably be the highest raise (the staff) has received," said Councilmember Kriss Worthington. "With salaries like these, I don't know who can buy a car and afford to keep it running."

The committee also hopes to develop a task force of union representatives, student groups and community groups that would meet with university officials to push better and cheaper transportation for UC Berkeley employees and faculty.

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