First, thanks so much to everyone who took the reader survey yesterday. Your feedback is extremely helpful for me in making decisions about the upcoming changes to the site. I was really surprised by some of the answers, so I’m glad I asked or I may have taken things in an unpopular direction. And if you didn’t take the survey yesterday, please consider doing so today. It really won’t take more than a few minutes, it’s only 33 questions long, almost all the questions are multiple choice, and you are welcome to skip the non-multiple choice questions. Like I said before, the feedback really is helpful for me. Here’s the survey.
Anyway. A couple of months ago, I asked readers to take a different survey – AC Transit’s online survey about service reductions. Hopefully some of you did so.
At a July meeting, the AC Transit Board of Directors received a report on the results of the survey (PDF), which I at least found rather fascinating. I’m going to share them with you guys here in hopes that you will find them equally interesting.
The results shown here come from two different sources – one was the online survey (labelled “e-News” in the images), and the second was a series of service reduction workshops hosted by AC Transit staff. The workshops varied widely in attendance (the Oakland workshop had over 50 attendees, while only 2 people showed up in Newark).
Overall, respondents preferred more frequent commute service, although the online participants expressed a much stronger preference in this regard. Transbay workshop attendees all wanted the agency to focus on commute hour service, presumably because they’re all commuters.
Given a choice between free transfers, paid transfers that would last longer than the current one and a half hours, and timed connections between buses, respondents split fairly evenly, with a slight preference for the free transfers. I picked the longer transfer.
When asked whether having buses operate at standard intervals was important (every 20 minutes or every 15 minutes rather than every 18 minutes), most riders said no. Duh. I mean, I said no too. The Board was flabbergasted by the response to this question, and I, in turn, was flabbergasted by their shock. I mean, maybe, maybe, I could see this mattering to someone if the bus was ever on time, but the reality is that even with clock headways scheduled, we all know that the bus isn’t actually coming every 15 minutes.
Anyway, Director Greg Harper was over the moon about this one (“Our riders are telling us ‘Save money!’”), and Director Chris Peeples admitted defeat in his apparently longtime argument with General Manager Rick Fernandez over clock headways, saying that the reason people don’t care anymore is because of NextBus. Maybe.
Riders were not down with the idea of running weekend service only on trunk routes.
But they did overall support the idea that the agency’s focus should be on major corridors.
Most people wanted the same service on both weekend days.
Respondents generally preferred bus service on major roads to neighborhood service.
Finally, most people preferred longer hours of operation, even if it meant less frequent buses.
At the meeting, staff was careful to note that they’re aware this isn’t a scientific survey by any means, but rather a helpful exercise that allowed them to gauge the sensitivity of riders to different types of service changes.
I certainly don’t envy the position AC Transit is in. They have no choice but to make significant service cuts, and while they seem to be trying to make the best of it, there really is no good way to do it. I’m going to post about the proposed service reductions on Friday, but if you do ride the bus, I strongly recommend you mark on your calendar right now the dates of the agency’s upcoming service reduction workshops and make sure you get to one. AC Transit does seem genuinely interested in how they can make this process as pain-free as possible for their riders, and if you don’t show up and tell them what you want, well…somebody else will. So please, if you’re an Oakland bus rider, plan to attend one of the following workshops.
- Saturday, September 12 10:30 AM to Noon
AC Transit General Offices
1600 Franklin Street, 2nd Floor Board Room
- Wednesday, September 16 6:30 PM to 8:00 PM
Fruitvale-San Antonio Senior Center
3301 East 12th Street, Suite 201
There are also workshops scheduled in nearby cities if you can’t make either of those times.