Rider to AC Transit: “It’s a matter of equity”
on September 14, 2009
“I bet you don’t even take the bus,” one West Oakland resident chided AC Transit planner Sean Diest Lorgion. “I take the bus seven days a week.”
She was one of scores of Oakland residents crowding a room in the transit building in downtown Oakland Saturday, who had come to hear AC Transit’s presentation on a proposed 15 percent service reduction.
Oversize, full-color foldout maps were distributed to all in attendance, detailing the proposed changes. Other handouts included comment forms on which attendees were invited to log their opinions, a sheet of frequently asked questions, and a timeline for the reductions in service.
A dozen or so incessantly smiling AC Transit employees circulated the materials throughout the three-hour long workshop. Oatmeal bars were also offered, gratis. In spite of the hospitality, the crowd was there to let AC Transit know that these changes would disrupt their daily routines. The service reduction plan has already been roundly criticized by the public and in the press.
“It’s a matter of equity,” Oakland resident Al Block said, saying the closure of the 59 and the 59A would effectively close off an area of the Oakland hills to public transport. “There are some people who totally depend on the bus.”
Manager of Service and Operations Planning Cory LaVigne reasoned for the massive changes to service—including the closure of the 15, the 59, and the 59A, and the disruption of the 51 at Rockridge BART. He reminded the jeering crowd that “it’s not fair to blame the bus driver” when buses arrive late, or when service is insufficient.
The workshop is one of eight scheduled this month around the East Bay to register public opinion on the district’s plans to reduce service. The district board makes a final decision on the matter in October, with the changes going into effect in January, 2010.
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Has the service reduction plan been “roundly critized” in the press? Where?
I attended this meeting, and I did not witness any “jeering.” I do recall several questions from residents about what agencies or people they should contact in order to get funding restored to AC Transit. I also recall many people talking thoughtfully to planners and Board Members about how the changes might be mitigated to preserve lifelines, and how they use routes day to day.
Its pretty gutsy to use a word like “equity” in reference to the cutting of a bus line that serves the two richest neighborhoods in Oakland.
I attended this meeting as well and the atmosphere was almost exactly opposite of what is reported above.
Though of course nobody’s happy about the service cuts, the 80 people in attendance seemed to be satisfied with the process and understood the bind that AC Transit is in. The state screwed AC Transit and their only options are to raise fares even more or cut service.
Considering that ACT has to cut 15% of its service, I think it’s incredible that staff managed to come up with a proposal that left the trunk lines at current levels of service and creatively merged lines to keep most service (except in the hills) basically in tact.
The planners at the meeting were extremely helpful and open about the process and everyone I talked to at the meeting felt grateful that AC Transit is undergoing this process. It falls in stark contrast to BART, which just cut service by 25% without holding even one community meeting.
[…] Transit’s initial plans announced in September would have reduced service by 15 percent, but the board proposed scaling back the service cuts by […]