Redirection of Funds May Prevent Some AC Transit Cuts

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AC Transit riders may see fewer service cuts than originally expected as a result of funds that could be redirected from the department's Bus Rapid Transit Project to its operational services.

The routing of $35 million from the project--which would construct an 18-mile bus-only lane between San Leandro and the UC Berkeley campus--to AC Transit is intended to halve the 15 percent service reductions proposed in June to help offset a predicted $57 million deficit.

"The feeling of many of transit riders was that it didn't make sense to plan a ... very expensive capital improvement for BRT when one was, at the same time, making rather substantial cuts to the existing operational lines," said Berkeley City Councilmember Gordon Wozniak.

The AC Transit Board of Directors had discussed the possibility of diverting the funds at a Sept. 25 meeting, and AC Transit plans to hold a public forum on Dec. 2 to discuss the proposal.

Earlier this month, AC Transit released its Revised Service Adjustment Plan, which details the changes to services after taking into account the redirected funds. With the transfer of the funds, bus lines would run more frequently and for longer periods of time throughout the day.

For example, under the original plan, Line 7 would have operated from 6 a.m. to 8 p.m. on weekdays with buses set to stop every hour except during commute hours. Under the revised plan, the hours of operation for Line 7 extend to 10 p.m., and buses run at 40-minute intervals all day.

AC Transit spokesperson Clarence Johnson said the Bus Rapid Transit Project--which is still in the early stages of negotiation with the cities involved--might not be significantly affected by the proposed transfer of funds.

"We would have time presumably to get new money, when we needed it, to keep the project moving forward," he said. "There's been no decision yet on delaying the project, construction time or anything."

The Metropolitan Transportation Commission, which helps coordinate Bay Area transportation projects, will decide in mid-December whether AC Transit will be able to redirect the funds, according to Johnson. The board of directors will then consider whether to adopt the revised plan that, if approved, would take effect in March 2010.

Students who ride AC Transit buses said they hoped the proposal would pass and that it is necessary to avoid cutting services.

"It would be really inconvenient because I take the bus every day," said senior Helen Choi, an economics major. "It's really crowded already. Usually people can't get into the buses. ... I can't imagine what it would be like (with further cuts)."


Melody Ng at [email protected]

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