I apologize for not delivering my promised weekend AC Transit history lesson. But I had a good reason. Instead of going on the blog, it went on Novometro. And you can read it there right now. Many kudos to the folks at AC Transit, who provided us with awesome photos of vintage buses.
Part 2 of the East Bay Express Van Hool expose is up, and well, I guess I’m relieved that I don’t have to spend any time refuting false claims this week, but after such a fiery beginning, it feels somewhat anticlimactic.
What do we learn in this installment?
Well, it turns out that when public employees take business related trips, their trips are paid for with taxpayer money. Also, when they do that, people usually think they spend too much money.
I guess there’s a couple of minor issues here:
Since 2000, the agency’s costs have skyrocketed, forcing it to repeatedly slash service and raise fares, as it lost millions of passengers.
Hmm…well, the last part isn’t true. They funny things is that if Gammon had picked a different year, say, 2001 (PDF!), when ridership peaked, with 70,808,702 unlinked trips and 231,171 average weekday unlinked trips, I could have said he was being misleading or picking and choosing numbers to suit his needs, but instead, I get to say that he’s just straight up wrong. You see, in 2000 (PDF!), the agency reported 67,632,612 unlinked trips and 225,465 average weekday unlinked trips. Compare that with 2006 (PDF!), the most recent year for which data is available, and we see 66,962,680 annual unlinked trips and 226,732 average weekday unlinked trips. So we have a loss of less than a million annual unlinked trips and a gain in trips on the typical weekday.
In fact, records show that AC Transit has the worst overall record among the Bay Area’s major urban mass transit systems in the past several years.
Really? Then why does the MTC say in their most recent State of the System report that AC Transit outperformed other Bay Area transit agencies, which lost a total of 11% of riders between 2000-01 and 2004-05 (PDF!)? AC Transit lost 9%, ranking higher than Golden Gate Transit (19% decline), SamTrans (20% decline), and VTA (34% decline), and doing only slightly worse than Muni (8% decline) over the same time period. I guess if you decide that two rail systems, BART (4% decline) and Caltrain (7% decline) are the only other transit systems, then that statement works. Seems somewhat dishonest, though.
At the time, several North American bus makers were selling low-floor models. AC Transit had even purchased some from an Alabama manufacturer the year earlier.
The Alabama manufacturer in question is NABI, which actually sells buses made in Hungary, but “provides the final assembly processes using standard American mechanical components in compliance with the requirements of applicable “Buy America” regulations.” Other “American” bus companies that manufacture buses outside of the US and engage only in final assembly here to comply with Buy America laws include: New Flyer, Orion, Nova, and Motor Coach Industries.
Currently, the plan is to transform the two center lanes of Shattuck and Telegraph avenues, International Boulevard, and East 14th Street into bus-only lanes, from downtown Berkeley to either San Leandro or BayFair BART stations.
This is technically true, although to me it implies that AC Transit wants to take the entirety of 4 different streets, when in reality, only 2 blocks of Shattuck would have the lane and East 14th and International are actually the same street.
The story ends with a vague description of BRT, then back to who on the AC Transit board likes Van Hools, then concludes with the non sequitur:
Whether or not it makes sense to buy Belgian buses has little to do with the underlying issue of Bus Rapid Transit. Should Berkeley and Oakland support AC Transit’s plans for bus-only lanes on Telegraph Avenue and other thoroughfares?
Go to KitchenDemocracy.com and share your views.
Normally, I like to give people some details about what they’re being asked about before I encourage them to form opinions, but each to their own, I guess.
I’ve written about BRT a bunch before. Regular readers know this, but for newcomers, enjoy some links, from me and others:
- Novometro: The Buses from Brazil
- A Better Oakland: I am at a complete loss as to why this concept is so difficult to grasp
- A Better Oakland: More whining about BRT
- A Better Oakland: Easy Bay BRT Q&A
- Transbay Blog: BRT in Action
- Living in the O: Why I’m Ready for BRT and Why Berkeley Should be Too
- Living in the O: BRT Project in Danger?
- Friends of BRT blog
- The Berkeley Daily Planet, for all your uninformed and speculative anti-BRT ranting needs