Lots of interesting things on the agenda at tonight’s AC Transit Board meeting (PDF).
First, East Bay BRT is moving forward. A little bit, anyway. Tonight, the Board will decide whether or not to do separate local service or only BRT along the route. In the project’s Draft Environmental Impact Report, two options were studied. In one, the BRT service would operate in its own dedicated lane with stations every half mile (6 blocks). Under this scenario, AC Transit would continue to operate the regular 1 bus, which would run in the other, mixed-traffic lane, and would stop every two blocks.
The other option was to have only BRT service along the route, but to have the BRT stop more frequently, every third of a mile (4 blocks). This costs a little bit more to build, because you have to build more stops, but costs less to operate. This option was forecasted to draw about 12% more riders than the separate BRT and local service.
AC Transit staff and the BRT Policy Steering Committee recommend doing only BRT service (PDF) along the route, and the Board should follow their lead tonight, choosing what they call “All-in-One” service as the preferred option for the Final Environmental Impact Report. Some people get really worked up about not having the separate local service, saying it will be crippling for seniors to have to walk so much farther to get to the bus. I don’t really buy it. I certainly agree that the bus should be accessible to seniors, but under the All-in-One option, the most anyone’s walk to the bus stop would increase is one block. I realize that if you have mobility problems, a block is kind of a lot. But when the choice before you is either to save 20% of 1 passengers the pain of walking a single block or to get more riders, better service, and save money, I have to say it seems like kind of a no brainer.
The Board will also be approving a transition plan (PDF) to start phasing out all the existing pre-paid bus passes, and force everyone to use Translink instead. AC Transit is being forced to do this by the MTC, who resolved earlier this summer to withhold funding from AC Transit and Golden Gate Transit unless they submitted a phase-out plan. The MTC’s rationale for this is that “TransLink is a key element of the region’s transit coordination requirement.”
Personally, I don’t care terribly much one way or the other about AC Transit phasing out their 10 ride passes – TransLink works fine for me. I live downtown, so it’s extremely easy for me to add value when I need to. But most people don’t live downtown, and for a large portion of AC Transit’s riders, there is no easy or convenient place to buy or reload a TransLink card. It’s a serious problem. Unless, of course, you’re the MTC, in which case bus riders from Richmond fall just below gnats buzzing around your back patio on the concern hierarchy.
And of course, there is no regional transit coordination benefit to use TransLink until BART adopts it. You would think if the MTC was so concerned about regional connectivity, they would threaten to withhold BART’s funding until they get it together to start doing TransLink, instead of dreaming about payment technologies that don’t exist. But no! Despite the fact that BART is basically refusing to adopt TransLink in any kind of reasonable time frame, the MTC is basically falling all over themselves to give BART half a billion dollars to throw in the trash. Just in case I’ve been too subtle about making this point before, I hate the MTC.
There is also an interesting report on the results of that rider survey (PDF) I was encouraging people to fill out a month or so ago.
Meeting starts at 6 tonight at the AC Transit headquarters at 1600 Franklin Street if you’re interested.