I already wrote about some of the problems I have with Robert Gammon’s Van Hool screed (this week’s Express cover story). I thought I’d said my peace, but after rereading the story, and engaging in a short exchange with Robert Gammon in the comments section of the article (which he ended with the extremely mature “This is the last time I’m going to respond to you because you obviously have no idea what you’re talking about”), I realized that I have a lot more to say.
If you didn’t read it, here’s the link, but for those who don’t want to waste there time, here’s the deal. Gammon’s story is about the Van Hool buses, which I (and everyone I know) happen to like much better than the old buses, but have generated some very aggressive complaints from some riders. Although the anti-Van Hool movement, spearheaded by Oakland activist Joyce Roy, can be extremely loud, they haven’t demonstrated in the past that they can turn out much in the way of numbers.
Anyway, Gammon spends nearly 4000 words interweaving rider complaints about the Van Hools with (nearly always innaccurate) descriptions of AC Transit’s failings, inefficiences, and budget problems. By conflating the purchase of allegedly expensive, allegedly dangerous, and certainly (gasp!) foreign-made Van Hools and alleged ridership declines and service cuts, Gammon implies that AC Transit has placed the purchase of these buses over the interests of its riders.
What’s particularly sad about this story is that Gammon clearly doesn’t understand, well, the first thing about public transit or the history of AC Transit. The article is riddled with errors that might be forgivable from, I don’t know, a high school student? But from a full-time investigative reporter after a three month investigation, they’re beyond embarrassing.
So let’s get into just how misleading this story is, and also how little Gammon understands about transit. Continue reading