The Daily Californian Online

AC Transit, Community Members Address Deficit

By Nick Myers
Daily Cal Staff Writer
Thursday, September 2, 2010
Category: News > Parking and Transportation

AC Transit's board of directors met on Wednesday to discuss its deficit. Employees and some residents claimed unfair blame was placed on the Amalgamated Transit Union.

A Wednesday meeting of AC Transit's board of directors was dominated by public comment and presentations on proposed solutions to its $15.7 million deficit following an Aug. 2 court ruling.

Transit riders, employees and other members of the public spoke out against proposed cuts to bus service and what they saw as excessive blame being placed on the Amalgamated Transit Union for financial strains.

"I want to know where's (the board's) enthusiasm for going to (Metropolitan Transportation Commission) and trying to get funding, rather than jumping all over the union," said Berkeley resident Chaka Khan Gordon at the meeting.

Over the summer, AC Transit officials adopted a new contract concerning employees' overtime, pensions and co-pays for health care that would have cost $300,000 per week less than the previous union contract that expired June 30, according to Chris Peeples, a member of the board of directors.

But an Aug. 2 ruling issued by Superior Court Judge Judith Ford invalidated the new contract, ruling that AC Transit must return to the now-expired union contract.

Lewis Clinton, chief financial officer of AC Transit, said at the meeting that the approved June budget had been balanced and that staff have begun to move forward under its outlined constraints. He added that having to make changes in response to the court's order was a setback.

The board proposed that, as a short-term fix, the reduction of service on more than half of its weekend lines - including the 1R, 7 and 52 which service parts of Berkeley - would save an estimated $10.8 million and impact 29,000 riders on Saturdays and 22,000 on Sundays. Cutting back "all-nighter" lines to only the 800 and 801 would save an estimated $1 million.

For the long-term, the board outlined 11 other solutions, including contracting out transbay and peak service lines to private companies, to save between $5 million and $15 million.

Samantha Strimling of The Daily Californian contributed to this report.

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