Letter to the Editor: Burbank Does Not Have a Public Transit System


Letter to the Editor:

Thank you for the article focused on the challenges Burbank residents have had and continue to have regarding transportation in our city.

The reality that Burbank does not have a public transit system. We provide specific services for specific demographics, but we do not have a transportation system for our entire city. Keep in mind that a flourishing public-transit system is inseparable from an effective climate policy. Our zeal for and myopic focus on clearing up bottlenecks has just produced more traffic and has not addressed economic growth, expansion of housing, climate change and so many other factors.

Instead of measuring speed and traffic flow as a proxy for success, we should determine how a new, comprehensive and modern transit system would address our local economic and climate policy goals as well as the quality-of-life goals set out by City Council. Business communities around the country know that public transit is not only an economic boost but now a necessity and they have formed Chambers for Transit which pushes for Federal funding for public transit.

We need to ask – how do people who live in Burbank connect with transportation – how do they use transportation to connect with Burbank’s services. Our current and severely limited transit system ignores the needs of the majority of residents. There is only talk of implementing a new but limited form of public transportation in the form of a trolley going up and down Magnolia and, again, this is not a solution for the majority of Burbank.

The point of transportation is to get people where they need to go. Let’s get the Federal funds now available from the American Rescue Plan Act ($30.5 billion that this Act devotes to public-transit agencies and specifically $26 billion which will be handed out to urbanized areas through formula grants). We can then determine a transit system that connects our residents to not only jobs but services and businesses all over Burbank. Tell City Council to prioritize public transit projects that will improve for all of us our ability to easily travel throughout Burbank, reach local services and ultimately create new jobs, economic opportunity, less traffic, a cleaner climate and an improved quality of life for everyone in Burbank. 

Linda Bessin


    1. I see why you lost the election. I am against spending taxpayer money for this purpose. I do not want to see my taxes increased for this purpose. A grant from Washington is NOT FREE money, it must be paid back by all of us. The bus system we have here in Burbank that is paid out of the general fund is a waste. It runs mostly empty all the time. A better way would be to build housing close to where the jobs are, and we are attempting to do that now. The car company’s are introducing many new cars that are electric as battery technology is improving. I have suggested using our empty school parking lots for charging stations at night to encourage apartment/condo dwellers to go electric. Buses and other forms of transportation are costly and NEVER can cover the ongoing costs necessitating tax payer subsides. I can see it now, mooches and deadbeats (democratic socialists) wanting a free ride to the pot shop.

    2. Linda,

      I wanted to vote for you, I truly like you as a person. I don’t agree with enough of what you stand for in order to tip the scale in your favor.

      Burbank is (as I have timed it) 8 minutes by car end-to-end if you don’t go up the hill.

      I have lived here 30 years. I have ridden all forms of public transportation in order to test these systems and develop opinions. I have spoken with my employees, neighbors and friends. I’m not beside you on this one.

      The City needs fewer programs to manage and lower taxes. We lead the region on cost per resident. And our City Council is constantly being pulled into black hole projects with gravity coming from a few loud voices.

      I am now paying, out of my own pocket, to conduct community surveys. It is remarkable what you learn when a large number of people are asked what they want.

      Burbankers cannot, and should not, foot the bill for expensive projects without a clear understanding of what residents want, not just those who speak loudest.

      Burbank buses do run empty much of the time. Rideshare companies have been disrupters to the idea of public transportation. Car manufacturers and technology firms are spending billions of dollars to bring self-driving vehicles into our daily lives.

      I suggest we all wait a bit. Kick this can down the road a bit. We will not want to invest tremendous money into a system that is eventually less attractive than low-cost driverless vehicles. I am confident that companies like Uber, Lyft, Google and even Tesla will offer cheap, self-driving “cabs” for anyone who needs a ride. I find rideshares fast, efficient and cost-effective.

      I own a car and very often use a rideshare when going to meetings and going out of the city. I find it better than coping with public transportation, relatively inexpensive and I believe in earnest the self-driving technology will become so ubiquitous that it will become mandatory on freeways to both prevent accidents and improve the flow of traffic; reducing gridlock and helping to increase the number of vehicles that can travel on a road.

      I have been in a Tesla on Autopilot. This is coming in a big way. It will make buses unattractive to all.

      The City should wait and see what happens. Right now is not the time.

      The City is millions of dollars in debt and has a major budget deficit.

      I like many of your ideas, you call into meetings and I hear what you have to say. Keep the flame alive. I’m not with you on this one.

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