Today’s Headlines

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  • david vartanoff

    Buried in all of the relief that the new Transbay bus terminal is finally opening, AC Transit is implementing a rider hostile set of service changes to several transbay bus lines. As a general change, AC will no longer allow reverse commute riders on many routes and will now refuse local riders completely on others. While one could debate whether the 15 seconds it might cost for a local rider to board and tag a fare, the result on several lines is the end of all bus service because no other bus runs on those streets.
    The extreme case involves the Parkwoods/Caldecott Lane Apartments where the roads to/from this area have no sidewalks and speedy traffic.
    Before the change a resident could get from home to College Ave where a major AC trunk line can take them to many destinations including the University of California–single largest employer/rider generator on AC’s network. Now they have ZERO transit.
    On a process level, by bundling multiple routes in the general policy change NO specific notice of service abandonment was made thus many riders had no idea they were being targeted, until notices came out in the last two weeks.

  • jonobate

    Yeah, this is a really bad move by AC Transit. We should be moving away from specialized commute only services to frequent, all day service on the lines serving Transbay, in order to make the service a viable alternative to BART and relieve some of the capacity crunch in the Transbay Tube. This change moves the service in the wrong direction.

  • Jeffrey Baker

    I agree completely. This is a major service cut and I’m baffled as to why they are doing it. It can’t be costing much time, and if it is costing a lot of time that’s a signal that AC Transit needs to be installing local service on that route. To cut service, in some cases eliminating local service in neighborhoods, when their funding has never been higher, makes no sense.

  • david vartanoff

    And occasionally, a bit of lobbying actually gets rider friendly results viz

    AC Transit E News today.
    Transbay Service
    Effective immediately, lines B and E will not be restricted to Transbay passengers only. Lines B and E will continue to accept local passengers.

    New restrictions on other lines (G, H, J, LA, LC, NX4, NXC, OX, P, V, and Z) remain effective.

    When boarding line B or E to ride within the East Bay, inform the driver before you pay your fare, so that the driver can change the farebox or Clipper reader to deduct the proper local fare amount.
    2 down 11 to go.

  • Jeffrey Baker

    Well done! Can I ask, how did you approach the topic? What is their rationale for eliminating local service and how did you counter?

  • david vartanoff

    First, I was not alone in this effort. A researcher from UC was the one who brought the issue to a BOD mtg. In a discussion w/ one board member post mtg, the director noted that several other riders had contacted him directly. So, below is my email the morning after the BOD mtg
    “Members of the Board, At the regular meeting on Wed 8 Aug the issue of refusing to carry local riders on Transbay bus routes was addressed by a regular rider of the E between her home in the Parkwoods/Caldecott Lane apartments and thence via transfer to the 51B at College and Claremont to access her job at UC and various errands.
    When AC Transit proposed refusing local riders on numerous Transbay lines (and reverse commute riders) apparently, no one in planning either looked at what local bus options they could use, or at what their travel patterns were (Clipper data etc.) In the case of the E, not only is there NO alternative local service, but the route traverses roads with no sidewalks and speeding traffic. Thus, this rider policy amounts to a discontinuance of service which was not specified either in the outreach hearing materials or BOD discussions when the multi line policy was approved.
    I assert this is a Title VI issue, and request
    1. suspension of the service discontinuance until the proper Title VI process has been completed.
    2. An explicit Board Policy that local and reverse commute riders be accommodated on any route where there is no other AC Transit operated local bus route.
    Should this require Board action, I deem this an ’emergency’ in which a short notice meeting is appropriate in order to nullify the service discontinuance due on 12 August.”
    While I had no direct communication w/ the UC person, she may well have also written to AC on the issue. The net result was that I talked to their Title VI Administrator who explained that this was not a genuine T VI issue but did confer w/others at AC.
    So, about AC’s rationale. IMHO, they have drunk way too much of the ‘stop consolidation/elimination cool aid’ (another transit salvation ideas du jour) and so as part of trying to improve Transbay bus service at zero extra cost (because even though MTC can tell that BART is incapable of greater rush hour throughput, actually increasing funding for AC isn’t in the cards) someone in Planning suggested, changing reverse runs from revenue to deadhead, and evicting local riders. Another move was shortening the F to downtown Berkeley instead of circling the UC Campus. So, apparently, in the process no one noticed that the B and E had no local duplicate (me included) during outreach hearings last winter, and so the blanket policy was approved and scheduled to coincide w/opening Port Authority Bus Terminal West.