Statewide public rail transit report gives Downtown Berkeley BART station ‘A’

Michael Drummond/Senior Staff

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A statewide report from the UC Berkeley School of Law’s Center for Law, Energy and Environment, or CLEE, measuring the value public rail transit stations bring their neighborhoods ranked the Downtown Berkeley BART station among the best in BART.

The CLEE collaborated on the report with Next 10, a California nonprofit organization, to evaluate the areas around 489 rail transit stations across the state on metrics such as walkability, ridership levels, land use and transit quality. The Downtown Berkeley station received an A rating, and the Ashby station received an A-minus, compared with an overall BART grade of B-minus.

Several other stations also received an A rating, including the 24th Street Mission, Civic Center/UN Plaza and Montgomery Street stations. SFO Airport, South San Francisco and North Concord/Martinez were ranked as the worst stations in the report.

The report released Monday also rated the stations in other rail systems — such as San Francisco MUNI, Santa Clara VTA and Los Angeles Metro Rail.

Ethan Elkind — lead analyst for the report and associate director of the Climate Change and Business Program in the CLEE — described the Downtown Berkeley station as an example of a “good, successful area” because of the heavy foot traffic in and around the station and its proximity to amenities.

UC Berkeley alumna Lila Booth said at the Downtown Berkeley BART station that she was not surprised by the grade it received, comparing it favorably with BART stations she had visited in San Francisco that she said were overly crowded, smelled bad and felt unsafe.

BART officials recently held an open house in the Downtown Berkeley station and released a survey to gather input from local community members on how they would like to see the station modernized. BART will work with the Alameda County Transportation Commission to spend an estimated $10 million for BART station improvements.

Elkind said the analysis is primarily aimed at local governments, who could use the report to gain a better understanding of what makes a transit station successful in the context of multiple community factors.

Noel Perry — founder of Next 10, which seeks to contribute to the improvement of the state in economic and environmental factors — noted that the report was intended to highlight, rather than critique, some of the best models of public transit stations.

“If we don’t take advantage of that infrastructure and invest in it, we are running the risk of wasting it and ruining its potential,” Elkind said.

With the established methodology and metrics, Elkind said, another area of study to explore would be comparing California transit stations to transit stations nationwide.

Contact Jason Tran at [email protected].