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Bus blues

My editor posted the BART horror story below. I don’t think he’s going to get over that ticket for weeks, so cold-calling PR flacks beware: Don’t dial up The Argus, at least until Valentine’s Day.

Around Fremont, Rob’s frustration might only be matched by residents of the California Terrace neighborhood, near the intersection of Mission Boulevard and Gurdwara Avenue.

Many of them have been mad for months that AC Transit re-routed Route 99 through their neighborhood at the request of the nearby Sikh Temple, which wanted better bus service for its seniors.

It might seem harmless, but residents say the buses pose a major danger on their narrow streets and that the route change smacked of favoritism toward the politically-active Temple.

The dispute seems to have gotten so intense that one resident said neighbors have asked for a police presence when they have to go inside the temple (their assigned polling place) to vote on Tuesday. Another person wrote us a letter accusing the city’s Senior Commission of pandering to Sikhs when they held one of its meetings at the temple.

Meanwhile, a Sikh leader had accused neighbors of purposely trying to back a car into an AC Transit bus to highlight the perceived danger.

Amid the ruckus, AC Transit is formulating a new compromise. Instead of running 27 buses down the street, its only going to run 14. Southbound buses won’t enter the neighborhood, but from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. northbound buses will stop right outside the Sikh Temple, AC Transit spokesman Clarence Johnson said.

Johnson didn’t know off-hand of any other religious institution that gets front-door bus service.

He described the latest service change, which is scheduled for March, as an attempt “to appease the concerns of everybody in the community.”

As for that Senior Commission meeting, the Sikh Temple and the city were both proud of it. I even wrote a brief in the paper at the temple’s request. Here’s a picture from the meeting that we didn’t have space to run:
sikh.jpg

Matt Artz