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AC Transit cuts service. Will it be enough?

By dcuff
Friday, December 18th, 2009 at 5:48 pm in Uncategorized.

AC Transit made it a complete sweep of pain for Bay Area public transit riders Wednesday night by becoming the last major bus or train agency in the region to approve cutting service.  It could have been worse and it could have happened sooner. 

Bus service hours will be pared back 8.4 percent in March by trimming and consolidating routes and reducing bus frequency on some lines, the AC  Transit board decided.

The board likely would have been forced to wield the knife earlier if it had not persuaded voters in November, 2008 to double the district’s annual parcel tax from $48 to $96. At the time, AC Transit leaders had billed the parcel tax increase as insurance against fare increases and services.

But it turned out to be short-lived insurance – something that will remain a sore point with some district critics. For their part, AC Transit leaders said the extra parcel tax money was eaten up faster than expected by declining sales tax and a state raid on local transit dollars.

In September, AC raised fares from $1.75 to $2. And now service will be pared back in March.

AC Transit warded off more severe cuts – 15 percent – by winning permission to reallocate $35 million of federal funds for its planned bus rapid transit project, and use the money on operations to minimize the service cuts.

AC Transit leaders acknowledged that relying on a bailout is not a sustainable way to run a bus system. As a result, they are looking for ways to put the district on more solid ground in the long run. Tune in.

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