AC Transit’s Big Empties

In 2019 AC Transit operated 158 separate bus lines. Some run only during peak periods. Others run just at night. And that might be ok if most lines were running full. Some lines are… but many aren’t. Not even close.

If you find this hard to believe go out and observe the passing buses. As noted, some are carrying a respectable numbers of riders. But in almost every part of the East Bay you will see buses, including articulated buses with 60 seats, carrying anywhere from one to four persons including the bus driver. This dismal sight, which was evident even before COVID, can be seen at almost any hour of the day almost everywhere, from Fremont to Pinole and beyond.

Why is this?

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Kudos to SMART’s Executive Search Team – Well Done

In addition to facing the severe ridership attrition created by COVID-19, the Sonoma Marin Area Rail Transit District (SMART) also had to address replacement of their Chief Financial Officer in December 2020 and their long-time General Manager’s retirement in late 2021. With the help of seasoned transit industry executive search experts, two exceptionally well-qualified leaders are now in charge at SMART.

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Caltrain Needs Certainty

The governance of Caltrain has been much in the news lately. Given all the talk, one would think that the agency was in a shambles. But it’s not. In fact Caltrain is a well run and well maintained operation that, pre-COVID, was popular with riders and enjoying a steadily increasing ridership.

So why all the hoopla?

MTC, the Caltrain Joint Powers Authority (JPB) and Samtrans, the agency that manages the system for the JPB, have unaccountably squashed four manageable problems into a single highly complex one that they seem unable to address in a calm and dispassionate way, much less resolve.

Let’s take each of the four manageable problems in turn:

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SFMTA’s Continuing Muni Metro problems… A Historical Perspective

Back in the 1960’s Muni was part of the SF Public Utilities Commission. In the late 1960’s the oncoming BART subway give Muni an opportunity to modernize its streetcar system. So the PUC sent one of its engineers to Europe to get a better look at some of Europe’s successful subway operations. He returned with a recommendation that there be a single 10-car train extending from State College to the Embarcadero, fed at the West Portal by short K-L trains and at the Duboce Portal by short J-N trains. That recommendation was rejected by the PUC brass on grounds that San Francisco’s streetcar users, used to getting one-seat rides to downtown San Francisco, “didn’t want to transfer and in fact wouldn’t transfer”.

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