Tag Archives: 1R

Take Action: Save the 1R & AC Transit Service

26 May

I was heartened yesterday by the responses to my post about potentially losing the 1R. I was especially pleased to read that so many of you were ready to take action. Luckily, there are two very important things you can do to save the 1R and potentially prevent a large amount of the proposed AC Transit service cuts.

1. Contact the AC Transit Board of Directors and urge them to save the 1R from cuts

Today are the public hearings on the proposed service cuts. Going to the hearings and speaking in support of the 1R would make a huge difference, as the AC Transit Board, unlike certain other transit boards, listen to the people who show up and speak. Hearings will be held at 2pm and 6pm in the AC Transit 2nd Floor Board Room, 1600 Franklin Street. I’ll be at the 6pm hearing so maybe I’ll see you there.

If you can’t attend either of these hearings, send an email to the Board urging them to save the 1R. They’ll be accepting comments for at least several days so even if you can’t do it today, make sure to send an email. Here are their email addresses:


2. Urge Barbara Boxer & Dianne Feinstein to Support Emergency Transit Funding!

Though the stimulus bill did quite a lot for transit agencies in terms of capital and maintenance needs, very little of it could be used for operations. So all over the country, transit agencies are slashing service and raising fares. Help from the Senate is finally on the way though, as a bill was introduced just yesterday to provide emergency operations funding for transit agencies. Transportation for America said it in an email better than I could so please read and take action:

The new bill – the Public Transportation Preservation Act of 2010 – was introduced today in the Senate. It contains $2 billion in grants for transit agencies across the US for preserving vital service – and it couldn’t come at a better time.

Write your senators today: tell them to pass this emergency funding package as soon as possible.

We can’t stand by while transit systems crash and burn. Last year, Americans took more than 10.7 billion trips on transit, the highest level in over 50 years. Public transportation use has increased at nearly triple the growth rate of the US population.

At the same time that public transit agencies are working so hard to serve growing ridership, they face shortfalls in state and local revenues. Transit agencies nationwide are being forced to cut service, raise fares, and lay off workers. Jobs and services are being eliminated for those in greatest need.

Congress has been paying attention to our calls for help. The hard work and dedication of our partners and supporters – like you – led to the introduction of this bill. This bill will go a long way toward relieving the pain, but it’s up to us to make sure it gets passed.

Tell your senators to support emergency funding for transit systems.

Our lawmakers need to take a stand and say enough is enough: we can’t let our transit systems falter.

I did some preliminary research yesterday to find out how much of the $2 billion would go to AC Transit or to the Bay Area as a whole, but could not figure it out. If anyone knows, please share and I’ll update this post. Regardless of the amount though, any funding AC Transit received from this bill would be used to stop some of the proposed service cuts so please urge Senators Boxer & Feinstein to get on board and support transit!

Losing the bus that allowed me to go carless

25 May

Update: Take action to save the 1R & AC Transit service!

I’ve known about the looming AC Transit cuts for more than a month now, but I haven’t had the capacity to come to terms with what they’re going to mean for the system and for me. I took some time over the weekend to think about it so that I could figure out what I’m going to say at the public hearing on Wednesday evening, and no matter what the Board ends up doing, it’s going to be devastating.

The last round of service reductions was done so deliberately, over such a long period of time, and with so much public comment that it makes this round seem all the much more blunt. I’m not going to go into the details of the possible cuts because Eric did an excellent job of summarizing them at Transbay Blog last month. If you’re an AC Transit rider, please read that post.

Any of the cuts will have a huge effect on the system and I know that I’ll personally be affected by these cuts. All of the services being considered for cuts are hugely important. But what is personally troubling me so much is that I might lose the bus service that allowed me to get rid of my car.

Three years ago, AC Transit began rapid service on the 1 line, which made it so I could get to work on many days just as fast as I could when driving. In July of 2007, I wrote this glowing assessment of a trip on the 1R:

Yesterday morning, I was already running late at 9:30 to make it to work by 10:00 a.m. and my boss calls. Her internet is down and she needs me to look up directions for her and tell her where and when all her appointments are for the day. Once I’m done with that, it was 9:45. So I run out my door and catch the bus at Telegraph and 59th at 9:48. We speed down Telegraph, hitting few lights (we have priority!) and stopping at just 4 stops. I get off at 14th and Telegraph, walk a few blocks and up 4 flights of stairs and arrive at my office at 10:03.

If you don’t ride the bus, let me just tell you that this is FAST! Back in the days of the 40 line, that same trip, with waiting and walking, would take me at least a half hour and usually more…

I’m not quite at the point of getting rid of my car completely, but my new bus line is pushing me in that direction…

Just 5 months later, I gave my car away. Though the 1R is still not as reliable as I’d like it to be, it allowed me to almost always be on time without a backup, even when I needed to get to work early and quickly.

Now I’m trying to imagine what my carless life will be like if the Board decides to cut the 1R North of downtown Oakland, which is one of the many possible cuts they’re considering. I would have to leave much earlier for work every morning. If I barely missed a bus, I’d surely be very late. I could no longer meet my fiance in Berkeley every once in a while for lunch. I’d have to cancel my twice a month breakfasts in Berkeley with my colleague. And I’d probably be a lot less spontaneous with after work plans, knowing how long it will take to get home.

Paired with some of the other cuts, like decreased late night service, my transit life will be greatly altered. Though I’m unlikely to go out and buy a car, I’ll probably use taxis more and sign up for City CarShare or Zip Car.

I’m sure that I’m not the only one who whose life would be altered, as the double length 1R buses I ride five days a week are nearly always more than halfway full. Students, seniors, mothers with children, business people, and just about every type of person you could imagine depend on this bus line to get them quickly to their destinations. Reverting back to a non-rapid bus would be a shock to all North Oakland and Berkeley 1R riders.

I don’t know what cuts I would make if I had the incredibly difficult task that the Board has in front of them. None of this will be easy, and I can’t expect my bus access to be prioritized over that of anyone else. But the thought of losing the bus that allowed me to go carless is simply devastating, and I’m going to beg the directors not to cut it.

If you’re a bus rider, be sure to attend the public hearing tomorrow to weigh in on the cuts, as I’m sure they’ll be affecting you too. Hearings will be held at 2pm and 6pm in the AC Transit 2nd Floor Board Room, 1600 Franklin Street.

February 22-28 Oakland Political & Community Events

21 Feb

Monday, February 22 – East Bay Young Democrats’ February Confab

On Monday, February 22nd, EBYD will be holding our first membership meeting of 2010. This will be an exciting meeting that you don’t want to miss. We’ll be determining priorities for the club for the year, reviewing our endorsement calendar, making plans for the CDP/CYD convention, and hearing from a couple of guest speakers about statewide initiatives. We’ll also be electing a new At-Large Executive Committee member, as Christine Smith has resigned after moving to Pennsylvania. Current nominations have been submitted for Anthony Sanchez and Dorian Peters. Please join us to shape the direction of the club. All are welcome and encouraged to participate! The meeting will take place from 6:30-8:30pm at Spice Monkey, 1628 Webster Street (Btwn 15th & 17th and 3 blocks from 19th Street BART). For more info and to RSVP, visit the Facebook event page.

Monday, February 22 – Mayor Dellums’ State of the City Address

Mayor Ron Dellums will address Oakland residents during his third State of the City address, likely trying to convince the audience that his tenure has been successful and Oakland is improving because of him. The address will be held at 6pm in the Council Chambers of City Hall, 1 Frank Ogawa Plaza. You can read my brief review of last year’s state of the city address and V Smoothe’s in-depth review of the first state of the city address.

Wednesday, February 24 – League of Women Voters Forum: Do Oakland Citizens Need a Public Ethics Commission?

The Public Ethics Commission (PEC) administers Oakland’s Sunshine Ordinance. What does “sunshine” mean in the affairs of our city and our rights as citizens to know what and how city government is doing? Andrew Wiener, past PEC chair, will lead off what should be a lively discussion. The League of Women Voters of Oakland sponsors monthly HOT TOPICS roundtable discussions to inform members and the public, and to seek ways we can come together to address important issues facing our community. This forum will be held from 6:30 – 8:00 PM at Redwood Heights Community Center, 3883 Aliso Avenue (Off Redwood Road below Highway 13).

Wednesday, February 24 – Missing Links Town Hall

Join The American Institute of Architects, East Bay, for a panel discussion and town hall forum discussing missing vital transportation links between Oakland and Alameda. Wine and cheese will be served after the program. Citizens of Oakland and Alameda are strongly encouraged to participate! Panelists include Patricia Kernighan, Oakland Council Member; John Knox White, Transform; Jeff Cambra, BikeAlameda Board Member; and John Eddy, ARUP. The event begins at 5:30pm and will be held at AIA East Bay Chapter Office, 1405 Clay Street, Oakland. The event is free and open to the public, but registration required. Click here to register.

Thursday, February 25 – The Worst is Yet to Come: An Economic Budget Forum

The Alameda County Budget Workgroup and its Chair, Supervisor Keith Carson, are hosting a free public forum that will examine how Alameda County finances are being squeezed by the current Federal and State Budgets and the effects on residents, community-based organizations, and service providers. This forum will be held at 9:00am at the Elihu Harris State Building Auditorium, 1500 Clay Street, Oakland. To RSVP, please visit www.acgov.org/budgetforums.htm.

Thursday, February 25 – AC Transit Community Forum on Line 1R Service and Reliability Study

The results of the Line 1R Service and Reliability Study will be presented at a community outreach forum. The study, which began in October 2008, was designed to yield data and analysis that could help improve the line’s reliability, overall efficiency, and customer satisfaction. Bus riders and members of the general public are invited to attend, hear about the study’s findings, and discuss with AC Transit planners how best to apply the results to improve the service. The forum will be held at AC Transit’s General Offices, 1600 Franklin Street in Oakland, from 6:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. Read the full study at AC Transit’s website.

Thursday, February 25th – Walk Oakland Bike Oakland Meeting

Meet Michael Flocchini, AC Transit’s Education and Training Manager, at the next WOBO Member Meeting. Michael will share AC Transit’s current project to update driver training to improve bike/ped safety. We’d love to have you there, because Michael wants to learn from you – he’s interested in your constructive ideas on how buses, bikes and pedestrians can all share the road! This meeting will be held from 6:30-8:30 pm at Bay Area Wilderness Training, 2301 Broadway, Suite B – enter on 23rd Street. For more info, visit WOBO’s website.

Rain, NextBus, and the not so rapid 1R

10 Jan

Normally, when I write about riding the bus, I’m pretty positive. Honestly, sometimes I sound like a cheerleader for AC Transit, especially for the 1R rapid bus. And my cheeriness about riding the bus is not a front – I really do generally enjoy it. I don’t mind waiting a few minutes (even in the rain). I enjoy random transit encounters. And most of all, I love not having to drive, or to focus on anything as I ride around town.

But something’s changed this year. Sure, I have a lot of stresses in my life right now, so maybe I’m just being less patient, but it really does seem like bus reliability and speed has decreased greatly in 2008.

I could probably write pages about my complaints of my transit experiences during the past two weeks, but I’ll spare you the pain I put my girlfriend and co-workers through by narrowing the complaints down to three simple thoughts…

1. The bus is never there when I’m waiting for it.

2. NextBus stopped working.

3. The “rapid” bus has slowed down, to the point that taking the regular 1 is sometimes as fast or faster than taking the 1R.

OK… I lied, I can’t just leave it at that… I have to explain…

1. Since the rapid bus line started on Telegraph in mid-2007, I remember few times when I waited more than 15 minutes for a bus. Even when the buses got bunched up, there were 8 buses per hour on the line (5 rapids and 3 regular) so you were bound to catch a bus pretty quickly. But during the past two weeks, I’ve waited more than 20 minutes (and sometimes more than a half hour) for a bus on at least 4 occasions. Luckily, I sometimes have avoided waiting in the rain by hanging out in my apartment and checking NextBus every couple minutes, but that brings me to my next point…

2. NextBus is broken! Of course, last year there were a few times when it failed me, but this year it’s failed me nearly every day. It says a bus will be there in 8 minutes so I book it out my front door and onto Telegraph, run to the 1R stop, and proceed to wait for 20 minutes. Or it tells me a bus isn’t coming for more than a half hour so I hang around in my office for a while, wait until the time drops down to 10 minutes, and walk to 14th and Broadway and there’s nobody waiting at the stop! Something tells me a bus did arrive sometime in that last half hour, unless everybody decided to stay home from work that day. To top it off, the NextBus status signal at the 14th and Broadway bus stop stopped working a few days ago, so I have to gamble by taking the 1, since I can’t tell when a 1R is coming…

3. Lately though, that’s not a gamble because the 1R no longer goes fast. Sure, it makes less stops, but the drivers rarely hit the speed limit and they’re in no hurry to move away from a stop. I’m wondering if riders complained about how fast they were in 2007 (I used to make it to work in 10-12 minutes) – maybe the fast driving scared them? I’m not sure, but the drivers have changed and it’s really frustrating. Today was the worst though. After passing up a 1 because I saw a 1R right behind it (usually a good choice), the 1R drives off fairly slowly, stops at a regular 1 stop for no good reason to pick someone up, proceeds on slowly, and then stops at another 1 stop and turns off the engine. She proceeds to just sit there for 10 minutes! She didn’t get out to use the bathroom or get something to eat. She didn’t make a phone call. She just sat. And yes, on regular buses this is normal behavior because they have to stay on schedule, but that’s why those of us in a hurry ride the “rapid” bus. And when people went up to ask what was happening, she just screamed at them and told them to mind their own business. Needless to say, I arrived to work late when I had aimed to get in early.

Woo! That was exhausting. But really, I’m not interested in complaining just for the sake of complaining. The truth is that no matter how much I love AC Transit and my particular bus line, it’s just not equipped to deal with inclement weather, bad traffic, or the varying behaviors of bus drivers.

So what’s the fix? Let’s start building Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) already. I don’t know about other bus riders, but I’m so ready for it. I really dream of the day when I don’t have to rely on NextBus because buses will arrive every 5 minutes. And the bus will travel almost as fast as a car because boarding will be streamlined. And you know what I look forward to most? Writing loving notes about my bus rides, instead of complaining tirades.

Why I’m Ready for BRT & Why Berkeley Should be Too

22 Oct

So far, I’ve been quiet on the Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) project being proposed to replace the 1R that travels through San Leandro, Oakland and Berkeley along International and Telegraph. V Smoothe has done a fantastic job explaining the project over at Novometro and responding to complaints about BRT at A Better Oakland. Robert in Monterey also did a great job honing in on liberalism gone bad in Berkeley’s efforts to halt the BRT project. And of course the Friends of BRT have been sharing their side of the story.

I guess I felt like I was off the hook, and maybe even that I had nothing additional to add. But the more I read these blogs in support of BRT and the print media’s opposition to BRT, I realized this was too important of an issue not to write about. I’m not going to debunk every myth about BRT (for that, check out V Smoothe’s most recent post on the subject), but I do want to offer my perspective, as a driver, bus rider, avid walker, and as someone who’s lived on both the Oakland and Berkeley sides of the 1 AC Transit line.

When the the 40 was retired and replaced by the 1 and the 1R, I was ecstatic. The 1R was fast, buses came more frequently, and it seemed like my previous public transit concerns had all been met. Of course, that was too good to be true.

A few months later, I still ride the 1R or 1 about ten times a week, but the experience is rarely perfect. Even when I check NextBus, I sometimes barely miss the bus or am left waiting for 15 minutes, as several buses bunch up behind each other and arrive at the same time. Though I have a car and could easily drive it to work, I’ve remained committed to dealing with the inconveniences of riding the bus (along with the benefits), but I know many others aren’t so patient or committed.

A BRT system on Telegraph would make my daily commute to and from work a lot more dependable and enjoyable, but the more I think about it, the more I realize that this is not what I’m most looking forward to. I’m looking forward to riding the bus to Whole Foods, hopping on the bus to take a walk around Lake Merritt, and riding the bus instead of BART to get my hair cut in North Berkeley. And what I’m really looking forward to is a quick bus ride to stores and restaurants on Telegraph and in Downtown Berkeley.

Yes, as Berkeley Telegraph merchants and residents are busy freaking out about the loss of parking, loss of traffic lanes, and the lack of business this would cause, they’re forgetting something very important. One of the reasons many of us in the East Bay avoid that area like the plague is because of the already terrible problems with parking and traffic. I would love to shop at Moe’s Books more often, but it’s a horribly long walk, and on the weekends it can take upwards of 40 minutes to get there by bus (waiting for and riding the 1). Past the UC Berkeley campus, Berkeley’s just unwalkable for me, at least when I’m walking from home. So I rarely eat at some of my favorite restaurants and rarely frequent some of my favorite bars. All of this would change for me with BRT.

Sure, I’d get to ride quickly to fun spots in Oakland and Berkeley, but what would I do with my car? Though I drive seldomly, when I do drive, I frequently park my car on Telegraph in North Oakland. Losing my parking spot would be worth it though, and with BRT, I’d move closer towards getting rid of my car altogether (if I don’t do it before then). I like to think that I’m not the only one who would make that decision, especially considering that even in LA, the introduction of BRT has gotten thousands of commuters out of their cars and onto the bus.

Unfortunately, I’m not just writing all of this for fun. The entire BRT project is in danger, partially because of the complaining merchants and residents in Berkeley who just don’t understand this project. The Berkeley City Council has an item about the BRT (PDF) on their consent calendar this Tuesday so it’s time to tell Berkeley that we want BRT to move forward, NOW.

According to an email from Friends of BRT, attendance by BRT supporters at past Berkeley hearings has been low so if you can make it, please join me on Tuesday:

Berkeley City Council Meeting
Tuesday, OCTOBER 23, 2007
7:00 P.M.
Council Chambers – 2134 Martin Luther King Jr. Way

If you’d like to speak, you should arrive at 6:45 p.m. to fill out a speaker’s card. If you can’t make it to the meeting, you can express your concern by faxing or emailing the council and mayor. Here’s a sample letter from Friends of BRT:

Send a letter, fax, or e-mail to the mayor and city council. A sample letter and contact information is provided below. Please feel free to modify and personalize the letter. Or you can just cut-and-paste, signing your name.

Send to:
Mayor Tom Bates and Members of the City Council
City of Berkeley
c/o of City Clerk
2180 Milvia St.
Berkeley, CA 94704
Tel. (510) 981-6900
Fax: (510) 981-6901
E-mail: clerk@ci.berkeley. ca.us

Dear Mayor Bates and Members of the City Council:

I am writing to support AC Transit’s proposed East Bay Bus Rapid Transit Project. I urge you to move as quickly as possible to do the following:

At your meeting of Oct. 23, 2007, create an open process focused on choosing locally preferred alternatives for the Southside/Telegraph, Bancroft Way, and Downtown parts of the proposed BRT route in Berkeley, which AC Transit will consider in preparing its Final EIR on the project.

Emphasize that considering the “no build” option will be appropriate only after the release of the Final EIR, and the Final EIR cannot be prepared until Berkeley provides AC Transit with its presentation of locally preferred alternatives.

Ensure that the process of developing the locally preferred alternatives will involve the Transportation Commission in a leading collaborative role. The Transportation Commission is the primary body responsible for advising the city council on transportation-related matters. It has already given a great deal of consideration to BRT and solicited public input at many different meetings of the full commission and subcommittees. This is not a time to exclude that commission from the process.

Ensure that the process will have a clearly defined deadline, preferably no later than March 30, 2008.

Thank you for your consideration.

Riding the Rapid Bus

6 Jul

Imagine, never waiting more than 12 minutes for the bus to arrive. Imagine, getting to work as fast or faster by bus as by car. Yes, this is the beauty of the new 1R line from San Leandro to Oakland down International and then down Telegraph to Berkeley.Let me give you an example of just how great the rapid bus line is. Yesterday morning, I was already running late at 9:30 to make it to work by 10:00 a.m. and my boss calls. Her internet is down and she needs me to look up directions for her and tell her where and when all her appointments are for the day. Once I’m done with that, it was 9:45. So I run out my door and catch the bus at Telegraph and 59th at 9:48. We speed down Telegraph, hitting few lights (we have priority!) and stopping at just 4 stops. I get off at 14th and Telegraph, walk a few blocks and up 4 flights of stairs and arrive at my office at 10:03.

If you don’t ride the bus, let me just tell you that this is FAST! Back in the days of the 40 line, that same trip, with waiting and walking, would take me at least a half hour and usually more.

I know, getting this excited about buses makes me a dork, but don’t we all need a reminder that public transit can be great? Forget the gas prices. Cars just aren’t as fun as they’re made out to be. Last time I was in LA, I drove hundreds of miles (as usual) and realized that driving is a major source of stress. I was a different person than when I’m in the East Bay busing and walking. I’m not quite at the point of getting rid of my car completely, but my new bus line is pushing me in that direction…

So next time you’re thinking about hopping in your car and throwing your paycheck into your gas tank, put down those keys, pick up a good book or throw on your headphones, and hop on the rapid bus.