AC Transit Receives Federal Funding for Software Update

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The AC Transit District was recently awarded a federal grant earmarked specifically to upgrade old software, allowing the agency to increase efficiency in maintenance operations in the future.

More than $5.4 million will be given to the district through a categorical grant - provided by the Federal Transit Administration's State of Good Repair program - so the district can develop an asset management system.

The grant will be used to upgrade the Mincom Ellipse asset management software used by the district, allowing it to monitor labor costs per bus and bus type, in addition to the current version's capabilities to track work orders and parts - such as washers, bolts and starter motors - according to AC Transit Director-at-Large Chris Peeples.

But none of the allocated funds will be used to directly reverse any of the cuts the district made last month. Government restrictions require the money be used only for the purpose outlined in AC Transit's grant proposal, which Peeples said is to gain efficiency by updating the Mincom software.

Clarence Johnson, AC Transit Manager of Media Affairs, said even though the district is "desperate for funds ... on the operating side," there is nothing they can do to use the new money to reverse cuts.

Peeples said if the district's operating side is to see any cuts reversed, a partial tax would likely be imposed, adding that 38 percent of the agency's funding comes from sales taxes.

"We hope like hell the economy turns around," he said.

The new software will be able to compile extensive data on vehicle performance, fluid consumption, past repairs and active warranties and has the ability to keep track of buses' parts and provide inventory suggestions for replacement parts, Johnson said.

He added that throughout the course of a standard work day, each bus will record its mileage and automatically send data to the centrally located system at the district's headquarters in Downtown Oakland.

Johnson said the federal grant - which he expects to take effect during the next fiscal year - will save about $1 million to $3 million for AC Transit.

The district's operating side could see a potential impact in the long run, because the software will make maintenance more efficient, according to Peeples. Johnson said an increase in efficiency will allow AC Transit to take better care of equipment on the buses.

"It would be nice to have air conditioning on every single (bus)," said Walter Edwards, an AC Transit bus driver. "Like this one here. This is a nice bus. When I have a crowd of people, everything's mellow - they got air, they're comfortable."

Since March, the district has made cuts to its budget three times. The grant is not directly affecting any of the recent cost-saving measures, according to Johnson, who said the district is far from reversing its budget deficits.


Contact J.D. Morris at [email protected]

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