I’m sure AC Transit board members and staff get all sorts of requests. Riders ask for lower fares, longer hours, more frequent service, and better buses. Some people who aren’t as fond of buses ask AC Transit to stop running buses in their neighborhoods (yes, a North Berkeley group does this). People ask for bus stops to be moved to be more convenient. But my guess is that AC Transit receives few requests like mine, as I want AC Transit to get rid of my bus stop on the 51A line.
Yes, I would like to walk further from the bus to get to my home.
Why? Well, a couple years back AC Transit did a thorough study on the 51 line. They found that the 51 was so slow because it spends only 50% of its time actually moving, while 20% is spent in dwell time (stopped at a bus stop) and 30% is spent in delays (i.e. stuck in traffic). As I wrote back in 2009, one of the major causes of delay is bus stop spacing:
If you’ve ridden the 51, I’m sure you’ve noticed that the bus stops are incredibly close together. It seems that every time I take it down Broadway, we stop at every block, which of course takes forever and makes me crazy. According to ACT, the ideal amount of space between bus stops is 800-1300 feet, yet on the 51 line, 87 bus stops (more than half of the stops) are less than 800 feet from the next stop. This slows the whole route down because pulling over, picking up passengers, and getting back into traffic at all of these stops takes a long time.
This report was awesome, and the planning process done afterward was inclusive and well thought out. Ultimately, AC Transit decided it would be best to split the line, which is what has been done. (Splitting the line has helped somewhat, particularly for Alameda riders, but I ride the 51A several times a week and still see major reliability problems.) They also wanted to move forward with other recommendations in the report, like getting rid of some bus stops.
It’s possible these recommendations didn’t get implemented due to lack of funding or because of coordination issues with cities. From my second post on this issue in 2009:
Stop removals and re-spacing: As explained in the previous post, the stops on the 51 are too close together in most places. To fix this, AC Transit proposes to remove 22 bus stops (15% of the total stops) along the line. The estimated time savings would be more than four minutes in each direction. This estimate sounds conservative to me, but, regardless, I think this plan makes a lot of sense. The only problem? “AC Transit does not own or maintain bus stops, and so the local jurisdiction controls the final placement of the stops and works with AC Transit to determine the best location.” So ACT needs to go through the planning processes in Berkeley, Oakland, and Alameda to get these stops removed. And at the Berkeley open house, Berkeley Councilmember Jesse Arreguin raised concerns about removing the stop at Milvia on University. I’m concerned that community members will rally around saving several specific stops, and without removing a significant number of stops, there will be no significant time savings.
Which brings me to my bus stop. My stop, on Broadway at 30th traveling North is a quick three short block walk from my house. It’s super convenient. But you know what? I don’t use it because it seems rude to when there’s another heavily used stop in front of Grocery Outlet that’s a quick three and a half block walk from my house. And just past that, one more block down, is another stop!
So AC Transit, please get rid of my useless bus stop that just slows down the bus when people do use it. And when you’re done with that, look at removing other closely spaced stops along the line. You might run into problems in Berkeley, but at least in Oakland, I’ll back you up because most riders want buses to be more reliable, even if that means having to walk a few extra steps.