We dream of BEAM: Berkeley, Emeryville and Albany Metro

Evan Walbridge/File
Evan Walbridge/File

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We have a dream.

A dream that won’t leave us standing out in the pouring rain (even though we’re in a drought). A dream that can take us not only where we need to go but when we need to get there.

Two score and 13 years ago, the first wheels of the AC Transit went round. And today, it is the primary transportation choice of the vehicleless Cal student. When voters created the Alameda Contra Costa Transit District , aka AC Transit, they envisioned just this — a transit line that served the needs of its community.

But did they envision this?

AC Transit 2

Or this?

AC Transit

There must be a better way.

Could it be BEAM? The Berkeley, Emeryville and Albany Metro is a hypothetical light-rail system designed by some really cool person on the Internet (thanks, Reddit). Take a look:

Screen Shot 2014-01-28 at 4.33.10 PM

We have no idea whether this is actually possible, but that isn’t going to stop us from pretending it could actually happen. (We’re not completely delusional, though. Oakland was actually considering something like this.) BEAM was based on a privately owned cable car system called the Key Route, which existed in the 20th century. At first glance, it looks pretty awesome.

But some Cal students have pointed out a few issues with the plan. With a bike, a student could get anywhere on the map within 15 or 20 minutes. And what about the cost of building and operating a light rail? The old routes are in place, but how much more of an expense would BEAM be?

On the other hand, gas prices seem to keep finding new roofs to shoot through. And perhaps ridership would increase with a system such as BEAM.

But while we dream about what BEAM would do for transportation in our beloved Berkeley, we’ll admit that though we love to hate AC Transit, it’s still useful. Even though we could walk down Bancroft faster than it could take us there, we won’t always be in a drought (or in shape). Plus, it’s free.

Image sources: redditsusernamelimitremremrem and thesandpeople

Sabrina Werts is the assistant blog editor. Contact her at [email protected]