Berkeley - El Cerrito Corridor Access Plan FAQ
Click on the question links below to jump down into the relevant section:
- What is the Berkeley-El Cerrito Corridor Access Plan (BECCAP)?
- What is the timeline of the Berkeley-El Cerrito Corridor Access Plan?
- Why does BART want to develop its land for transit-oriented development (TOD)?
- Why is BART studying station access along the entire corridor rather than for each station?
- How does the BECCAP relate to other projects at these three stations?
- Why is BART pursuing TOD and access studies during the COVID-19 pandemic?
- Why doesn’t BART build or find a way offer the same level of parking spaces when it builds housing on these parking lots?
- How does BART know that more riders will come from TOD than those who currently drive and park?
- Won’t commuters just drive directly to work and generate more emissions if they can’t park at their preferred BART station?
- Won’t low-income BART riders be most hurt by parking changes?
- What will happen to the Flea Market if a developer builds on the Ashby BART parking lots?
- How is BART planning for people who have physical difficulty walking and biking to the station (i.e. some older adults and some people with disabilities)?
- Bus service to BART can sometimes be infrequent and unreliable. Will improvements to bus service be part of this process?
- Taking the bus and also paying a BART fare is expensive. What can be done to make commuting more affordable?
- Who will pay for the station access changes recommended in the BECCAP?
- How can I provide input or get updates on the BECCAP and the TODs?
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The BECCAP is a collaborative effort of BART and the cities of Berkeley and El Cerrito to identify station access strategies for communities served by the El Cerrito Plaza, North Berkeley, Downtown Berkeley, and Ashby BART stations before 2500 mixed-income apartments are built on the three parking lots. The development will change how BART customers in the surrounding communities get to and from the stations. The goal of the plan is to develop strategies that equitably distribute investments in walking, rolling, biking, riding transit, driving, and parking. The plan will incorporate and balance stakeholder input for these interrelated stations in a way that is consistent with Berkeley’s and El Cerrito’s adopted community plans as well as BART’s Transit-Oriented Development (TOD) and Station Access policy goals and performance metrics.
Work on the BECCAP began in January of 2021 and is expected to conclude Fall of 2022.
People who live close to transit use it for work, school, errand-running, and recreational trips more frequently than those who live further away. Building high-density housing on BART’s land will not only increase transit ridership 7 days a week across all service hours but will also help address the housing and climate crises because residents will drive less, reducing greenhouse gas emissions. These TODs at BART stations are universally supported by El Cerrito’s and Berkeley’s adopted plans because they supply much-needed housing that reduce the need to drive and enhance community vibrancy.
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4.Why is BART studying station access along the entire corridor rather than for each station?
BART will do a station access plan for each station once a development team is chosen. The BECCAP is being done in advance of these station access plans to identify a toolkit of corridor-wide strategies that might be more feasible and effective when done as part of a coordinated effort. Some BECCAP strategies would then be incorporated into each station access plan, which will also detail circulation and infrastructure needs in the station area and on public streets nearby and identify who will fund and build them. Note: El Cerrito Plaza’s developer has been selected and it is anticipated that work on this station’s access plan will be done at the same time as the BECCAP work.
The BECCAP will coordinate with overlapping studies in progress and incorporate planned changes to the pedestrian and bicycle access at or near these stations. They are:
- North Berkeley Bicycle and Pedestrian Improvements in and around the BART station area, which is anticipated to be completed by Summer 2022, with funding from the state’s Affordable Housing and Sustainable Communities (AHSC) Program.
- A bikeway through BART’s western parking lot at Ashby station, connecting Prince and Woolsey Streets, which will be completed by Winter 2023 with funding from the state’s AHSC program.
- A study focused on implementing TOD at BART stations on the Richmond line, funded by the Federal Transit Administration TOD pilot. This study includes:
- Supporting the City of Berkeley in evaluating the feasibility of redesigning the space on Adeline St. adjacent to the Ashby station through vehicle lane reductions to potentially accommodate the Flea Market, while implementing the Adeline Corridor Specific Plan. The study will also evaluate temporary weekend vehicle-lane closures on Adeline Street.
- Funding ongoing work needed to support eventual development of the El Cerrito Plaza, North Berkeley and Ashby BART parking lots, including analysis of affordable housing funding options, further community engagement, objective design standards for the TODs at Ashby and North Berkeley, and transportation demand management program set up in Richmond and El Cerrito.
The COVID-19 pandemic has revealed that traditional commute patterns will continue to shift, and transit systems will need to get ahead of emerging work patterns and sustainable ridership trends. It is now more important than ever to locate housing – especially affordable housing – near transit to support essential workers who do not have remote work options. At the height of the pandemic in 2020, 53% of BART riders earned less than $50,000 a year, and 51% did not own a car.
Developing homes on BART’s parking lots will change how BART riders get to the stations, particularly those who parked at the station (before COVID-19, 17% at Ashby, 25% at North Berkeley and 34% at El Cerrito Plaza).
Berkeley and El Cerrito have adopted community plans that favor locating affordable and mixed-income housing on BART’s land and our planning efforts must continue so we can develop options that will ensure a variety of riders, including those who before the pandemic drove and parked, continue to have access to stations along the Richmond line.
It comes down to land space, costs, and funding sources. Here are some more details as to why BART can’t replace all the parking removed:
- Parking requires a lot of land: Each parking space requires about 350 square feet to account for the stall, drive aisles, and equipment. Driving and parking at El Cerrito Plaza, North Berkeley, and Ashby stations take up 58% to 65% of the land area to serve 18% to 34% of BART riders who come from their homes.
- It’s expensive to build and maintain: Based on recent projects, each parking space costs $60,000 to $80,000 to construct along with annual operation, security, and maintenance costs.
- Funding for parking is limited: Grant funds available to pay for BART customer parking are limited and competitive. Any public dollars used for parking are dollars that are likely being redirected from other access options such as new bike lanes, wider sidewalks, and better pedestrian lighting.
- Dedicated BART parking has the least capacity for expansion: Once parking is full for the day, the ability to access BART by driving and parking is limited. Walking, rolling, biking, and bus transit have the capacity to bring more riders to the stations and can be more readily expanded when there is greater demand.
- Dedicated BART parking benefits higher income riders the most: For these three stations, 27% of riders who have a household income of $150,000 or more drive and park whereas 16% of riders who have a household income of less than $75,000 drive and park.
- More parking leads to more driving: BART, Berkeley, and El Cerrito have adopted goals, strategies, and metrics to reduce driving. Providing a large amount of customer parking would be contrary to these community values.
We understand there are some riders who must drive and park and truly have no other option based on where they live and other circumstances. The BECCAP will explore options and recommend a toolkit of strategies for BART customers who must drive and park. They may include:
- Dedicated BART customer parking at the stations
- Shared parking with the station TODs
- Dedicated or shared BART customer parking at municipal lots and garages
- Dedicated or shared BART customer parking at privately-owned spaces, lots or garages
- On-street, managed parking
BART’s Station Access and TOD policy goals prioritize walking, biking and transit over driving and parking as well as making investments that result in greater equity and accessibility for our riders.
Building TOD on BART property brings new riders, but the ridership boost may be offset if the number of available parking spaces is reduced, and some people stop taking BART. Using data and research from a variety of sources, such as Replacement Parking for Joint Development: An Access Policy Methodology and Travel of TOD Residents in the San Francisco Bay Area, BART staff can estimate the tipping point for ridership between the provision of parking spaces and housing units. As a rule of thumb, however, BART’s 2017 Transit-Oriented Development Guidelines states that a minimum of 75 homes per acre generates enough ridership to support BART operations, regardless of the number of parking spaces for BART customers. The TODs planned for El Cerrito Plaza, North Berkeley, and Ashby will meet or exceed this minimum number of homes per acre.
We acknowledge that some current BART customers who park may decide not use BART if they can no longer park at the station. The majority of BART commuters use transit to access dense job centers because travel times for driving directly to work are unreliable and transit is more affordable than paying tolls and/or for parking in city centers. Therefore, many will find another option to getting to our stations that does not involve parking or they will drive to another station that has parking capacity or find another way to get to work that doesn’t involve single occupancy driving that generates more emissions. A survey conducted in 2019 for the El Cerrito Plaza BART Station Access Survey Results found that less than 6% of respondents would choose to drive directly to their destination if there were no parking at the station. Some of these respondents may now have the option to work remotely at least part of the time in the post-pandemic future.
It is also important to note that more emissions come out of the first 60 seconds of cold-starting a car than they do for the next 200 miles that it’s driven. Thus, motivating more BART riders to get to the stations in a more sustainable way would be better overall for the environment, even if some ultimately choose to start driving directly to work.
Low-income BART riders rely on getting to BART by walking, biking, and transit at a much greater rate than driving and parking. As shown in BART’s Station Profile Survey data, providing parking generally benefits wealthier BART riders. Lower-income BART riders are less likely to own cars and do not have the choice to live near BART because of housing costs. At the height of the COVID pandemic in 2020, per BART’s 2020 customer satisfaction survey, 53% of BART riders earned less than $50,000 a year, and 51% did not own a car. The COVID-19 pandemic has underscored the importance of locating housing – especially affordable housing – near transit. Constructing high density housing at these BART stations will provide affordable housing near quality transit service while investments to improve walking, biking, and transit as ways to get to BART stations will help reduce overall transportation costs for more people.
BART and the City are committed to ensuring the Ashby Flea Market remain and thrive within close proximity of the Ashby BART station. BART and the Community’s top priority for the Ashby BART station development is to maximize the number of affordable, deed-restricted apartments as identified in the multi-year Adeline Corridor Specific Plan effort as well as the Community Advisory Group (CAG) process for the development at the BART stations. At the same time, BART recognizes the role of the Flea Market as a key community asset also identified in the Adeline Corridor Specific Plan. BART has allocated funding and resources for Berkeley’s Adeline Corridor Road Diet Study (see Question 4 in FAQ above) to identify its permanent location in close proximity to the Ashby station that will also enable BART’s developer to build as many affordable homes as possible.
BART will engage BART riders with mobility challenges for both the BECCAP and the upcoming individual station access plans to identify the full range of access needs. BART has and will continue to seek input from BART’s Accessibility Task Force (BATF) as well as from community organizations and advocacy groups representing people with disabilities and neurodiversity.
According to Contra Costa Accessible Transportation Strategic Plan, about 41% of respondents said that they drove themselves to destinations. This indicates that the majority of respondents can’t or don’t drive and they rely on transit, walking, or someone else driving them to get around. Improving station accessibility for all ages and abilities will result in better station area designs.
Those with mobility challenges who drive will be able to use their disabled placard to park in ADA spaces that will be provided at the BART station or on-street.
The BECCAP will engage bus transit agencies that provide access to the stations as part of its technical advisory committee to identify and evaluate bus service and reliability improvements. BART is also currently working with bus systems to better align service schedules to reduce transfer wait times and improve the experience of using both systems to complete a trip.
BART is a key participant in the Metropolitan Transportation Commission’s regional efforts for transit fare reduction and integration. We offer discounted fares through Clipper START, a pilot program for low-income adults. BART is also co-leading MTC’s Transit Fare Coordination and Integration Study task force that is focused on identifying affordability solutions for transit transfers.
The station access strategies will likely be funded by a mix of sources and programs including developer contributions, user fees, grant funds, BART contributions, and/or regional funding agency contributions. A Funding and Financing plan will be developed as part of the BECCAP process to determine cost estimates for proposed station access strategies and identify potential funding sources. BART will explore implementation options as part of the BECCAP work by looking at best practices of how other organizations have approached infrastructure improvement funding and funding of ongoing operations and maintenance costs of potential station access and parking investments.
You can submit input and sign up to receive updates using the BECCAP comment form. Notification about other engagement opportunities, such as open houses, presentations, local board and commission meetings, and office hours, will be posted on the project website at www.bart.gov/beccap and emailed to those who opt in for receiving updates.
You may also sign up for email updates about TODs by going to https://cloud.info.bart.gov/signup and selecting “Transit-Oriented Development Projects” under Step 3: “Manage Subscriptions.”