BATWG’s Proposed Improvements for AC Transit

Updated June 20, 2015

During last Fall’s Measure BB campaign, BATWG pointed out the fallacy of handing almost $2 billion in Measure BB funds over to AC Transit without requiring any operational improvements in return. Here is a summary of what we had in mind:

1.) AC Transit’s transbay operation should be overhauled. The objective should be to increase transbay ridership from today’s dismally low 15,000 riders a day to at least 60,000 riders a day. This can be done but it will take a reorganization of AC’s 29 separate transbay bus lines.

2.) AC Transit should work closely with the Cities of Berkeley and Oakland to return certain streets to two-way traffic. One-way streets favor auto travel but not bus operations. In certain cases, returning to two-way traffic would render the affected AC lines both more direct and more visible.

3.) AC should examine every route with an eye to reducing the sometimes unnecessary and often confusing turns and detours that drive away would-be riders. Many of AC’s 119 lines are fine as is. However at least 50 need attention and objective evaluation. The objective should be to make every line as straight, simple, understandable and useful as possible.

4.) AC should negotiate a fair and effective arrangement with the handicap community. Experiences with how much time it takes to get a wheel chair on and off an AC bus are reportedly causing riders to return to their automobiles. AC will soon have substantial para-transit funds to spend. This presents an opportunity to significantly reduce para-transit response times and otherwise improve para-transit service. An efficient para-transit operation could both help the handicapped and improve AC’s regular bus service.

5.) According to MTC, bicycling accounts for 1.8% of Alameda County trips. When and where practical, safe bicycling routes should be provided…located so as to avoid slowing up or interfering with the movement of transit vehicles.

6.) With respect to passenger rail, AC should keep an open mind. Providing rail service, even if limited, could benefit both the East Bay and AC Transit itself.

7.) AC should evaluate the overall usefulness of each of its numerous transfer centers. Transfer centers are not panaceas. In some cases detouring buses off their regular routes to meet other buses at a common location almost certainly drives away more riders than the small number of additional riders that are attracted by slightly easier transfers.

The Region is growing in population and employment and BART is running out of transbay carrying capacity. This makes the need for a beefed up and streamlined AC Transit operation ever more important. The more innovative members of AC Transit’s staff share these objectives, as did David Armijo, AC Transit’s last General Manager. Unfortunately Mr. Armijo was unaccountably forced out by AC Transit’s Board of Directors last March. The Board is now in the process of selecting a new GM. If they pick well and henceforth strongly support efforts to bring AC Transit into the 21st Century, its 7 elected Board members can redeem themselves.

The objective should be to do whatever is necessary to bring AC’s anemic ridership up to at least 325,000 riders a day by 2025. This can be done but it will take both a significantly improved operation and effective marketing.