In the race for City Council, there are seven candidates, and we asked ten tough questions. We told the candidates they could write as much as they wanted, and we did not edit their responses in any way. We rotated the order after every question.
Today is question 1 of 10 – Transportation: The Burbank bus system is a bust. If you could start from scratch, how would you design a transit system that would serve Burbank residents?
What some people don’t realize is that pre pandemic Burbank grows an extra 100K people Monday through Friday because of the studios and businesses. I think that Burbank needs to with come up with a shuttle system so it can go to each studio and bring them into our city for food and shopping, so our small businesses are supported and then in a timely matter take them back to the studios. Burbank also needs to have a system where we can get in and around the city easily. Burbank residents should be able to easily run our errands. The metros system should connect us to our neighboring cities so our residents can get to college and medical appointments efficiently. And I think we should install a trolley that runs through our city and connects residents to shops and restaurants.
The City’s goal is to provide alternative transportation to our commuters and not just to our residents. Some of the routes are designed to bring commuters to our City for work. However, we also need to encourage our residents to make better use of the public transportation the City provides. In order to become more effective in this area, a community outreach should be conducted to gather data about the needs of our residents and what they expect from our system. This will help increase our ridership if we can tailor our routes more closely to the needs of those who are most likely to use it.
Personally, I would like to hear from both the residents and staff about the areas in which we are lacking. Metro does have service in Burbank but has a lot of “holes.” We need to identify where these are to address the missing pieces. As an example, N. Victory and Buena Vista do not currently have service and this should be addressed if there is a need to expand into these two areas.
Regarding our inter-Burbank transportation needs – the Burbank bus system is a great idea in theory; however, we need to focus on who the key demographic is and where they need to go. I would start with designing transit around our schools, parks, and highly transited corridors. Parents have long been asking for a return to the ‘Got Wheels’ systems or other methods to help instill public transportation in a safe way for their teens and tweens. If we want to have an effective Burbank-specific bus system then it has to be as efficient, if not more efficient, than someone’s car and take our residents to key places.
I am a fan of the trolly system initially proposed by Councilmembers Frutos and Springer and would like to see the route of the trolly cross through Magnolia into our downtown area. I think this would increase scenic tourism and add to our small town charm, but also be a viable option for families, students, and seniors trying to get across town in a leisurely way. I also think we need to consider how we market our services, like our bus system. I have run into residents who have not used this service simply due to lack of knowledge or lack of enthusiasm created around the bus system. The city would need to perform outreach to residents through an aggressive informational campaign and through incentives like free first rides, free ongoing rides for students and seniors, and community events centered around the bus to generate momentum.
Starting from scratch, I would design a system within the context of Universal Design. Universal Design means that the transportation, public right of way infrastructure, first mile/last mile improvements, building access are usable by everybody regardless of disability or ability. The service would be affordable, reliable, frequent, timely, comfortable, safe and clean. Our streets and sidewalks would provide protected multi modal use and would encourage walking, biking, wheelchair and other safe passage to those using alternative modes. I would design a system that has zero greenhouse gas emissions.
I would design a system that helps our residents most in need: our low income, seniors and our disabled and I would provide fixed route and on demand service that responsibly fills their needs.
I have been car-free for 5 years, so public transportation is important to me. I have firsthand ridership experience to inject into policy decisions. I am in contact with Burbank public transportation users and I’m a liaison to the Burbank Transportation Commission, whose members also use public transportation. This Commission is incredibly qualified, and members are studying, and advising on Burbank bus route changes to provide effective accessible public transportation. I would continue to listen to these Commissioners.
A huge issue is that public transit use was on the decline before the pandemic and it has not recovered as we emerge from the pandemic. Recovery in Burbank and nationwide is projected to be slow.
I will proactively work on moving 20% of Burbankers to being car free. Help facilitate 15-minute train service through Burbank. Pick out two more Complete Streets projects to move forward. Currently slated for implementation are First and Magnolia and the reconfiguration of San Fernando between Olive and Magnolia. Two new choices might be the North Olive Greening Project (p. 171) and the Chandler Bikeway Access Improvement (p. 164) https://www.burbankca.gov/documents/173607/240353/20200324-complete-streets-plan.pdf/9d19867a-2d23-aed5-275e-f15fc2304810?version=1.0&t=1616622101495&imagePreview=1
Our current public transit system is mainly focussed on supporting commuters, as we nearly double our population during the work day. Also, our general intracity transportation network centers cars with minimum attention to both buses and bike infrastructure.
Some ideas for improving our transportation network both for residents and for workforce:
• a city circulator that stops at the major areas of town; ie. the airport, Mag Park, the studios, downtown Burbank, Woodbury, etc.
• bring back a bus transportation system for our children to get to school
• a city-wide safe biking network, including safe routes to school
• partnership with Metro Micro, a fully featured BRT, and Metro line busses to enhance our local network
Not only will these options improve our intracity travel networks, they will also increase safety for all, provide more equitable travel options, decrease the traffic impact of incoming housing development, and reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
Link to the city’s transportation plan (updated Dec. 2021): https://www.burbankca.gov/documents/173607/1541047/20130213_Chapter+4+-+Mobility.pdf/2dbe459b-51c0-d5e4-c04f-1939d702757d?version=1.0&t=1637190570870&imagePreview=1
Link to to the city’s most recent bicycle route map: https://www.burbankca.gov/documents/173607/240347/20210324-Burbank-Bike-Map-003.pdf/086efc5a-eea4-b2e5-cdfa-2002ea0fdc8e?t=1616611826398