Here is an update on the ongoing cuts to AC Transit service that I first reported on last week:
AC Transit is in trouble. Dire financial straits have forced the agency to consider enacting additional service cuts and the possible declaration of a fiscal emergency. Already adjusting to the 7 percent service cuts that went into effect at the end of March of this year, August is likely to bring an additional 8 percent less service, with more cuts in the pipeline if new funding sources are not found.
On May 26th, AC Transit held two public hearings, at 2 p.m. and 6 p.m. to solicit comments on three possible scenarios that could be rolled out in August.
Proposal one is to operate only trunk and major corridor services on the weekends;
Proposal two is to modify All Nighter and late-night services;
Proposal three is to distribute the reductions across all weekday, late-night and weekend services.
However, it is unlikely that any one scenario will be enacted in full, but rather some sort of amalgamation of the proposed cuts.
I attended the 6 p.m. public hearing and tensions were running high among those who came to speak out against the cuts. Time and again, concerned residents spoke of their fears about losing accessible transit. Many stated that they could not afford cars, or were seniors or disabled and could not walk or bike as an alternative. Some had moved to their residences specifically because they were accessible to bus routes- routes that are threatened under the new scenarios, either by reduction of service resulting in unreasonable wait times, or loss of service areas altogether.
While some expressed frustration with the board of directors, in truth these are deep and painful cuts that nobody wants to make and that will result in the continued erosion of the ridership base, further driving down revenues.
What can we, as informed and concerned citizens, do to try to recover the essential functions of the public service on which so many depend? we need to speak up if we want to keep our transit systems intact (or expanded). Transit is often at the bottom of the list because public outcry is greater on other issues; perhaps transit is seen as so fundamental that we take it as a given. What AC Transit is showing us, is that publicly funded transit is far from a given.
Contact your State Senator.