The state’s redistricting has been completed (pending legal challenges and ballot initiatives) and the City of Oakland’s redistricting won’t happen until next year, so right now anyone who’s interested in redistricting should have plenty of time to focus on AC Transit and BART’s processes. In the coming weeks, both agencies are holding community meetings about redistricting so there should be plenty of opportunity to weigh in.
AC Transit recently released its redistricting proposals (at the bottom of this page), and for Oakland, no matter which proposal the Board picks, not much will change. Oakland right now is represented by four directors – two at-large and two representing districts. The at-large seats are not effected by redistricting at all, and the two district seats – Ward 2 (Greg Harper) and Ward 3 (Elsa Ortiz) don’t appear to be changing much at all. The boundaries between Ward 2 and 3 will shift by a few blocks, and the same will happen between 3 and 4. So chances are that no matter which proposal is picked (and there may be a compromise between the two), your director will not change.
As for BART, even though they’re starting to hold community meetings this week, I could not find proposed maps on their website. What I did find was a map that shows population stats by current districts, which suggests some of the districts will be changing significantly. Oakland currently has three representatives on the BART Board. In District 3, Bob Franklin represents Rockridge, Temescal, and parts of the Oakland hills. In District 7, Lynette Sweet represents West Oakland. And in District 4, Robert Raburn represents the vast majority of Oakland, from Broadway all the way through East Oakland. Continue reading
In March, I wrote about the 30th Street northbound 51A bus stop that is the closest bus stop to my home. Though it is incredibly convenient to me, I almost never get off of the bus there because the stop is very redundant – there’s a stop half a block before it and another a block before that one. Those two stops are heavily used but my sad bus stop is only sparsely used. Since I know that the bus pulling over just for me to get off adds time to its trip, I get off a half block early and walk.
I wrote in that post that I wanted AC Transit to get rid of the stop:
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.
So you can imagine how happy I was when on my way home from work yesterday I saw this: Continue reading
When I watch local meetings live, I generally tweet them so those who are interested can follow what’s happening. But besides Council meetings and occasionally Planning Commission meetings, I listen to most meetings after they’ve already happened. I’m often tempted to tweet these meetings, but I think it could be incredibly confusing, so I’ve never done it. Sometimes I’ll write entire blog posts about one of the things that happened at a meeting, but I usually don’t take the time to share most of what I’ve learned on this blog.
So I’ve decided to try out a new format here – a brief roundup of local meetings. I’m going to start out with last week’s AC Transit meeting, which I listened to earlier this week. I’d greatly appreciate feedback with this format. If readers like it, I’ll do these as much as I can, but if you don’t find them useful, I’d like to hear whether you just don’t want to know about meetings unless something really exciting happens or if you have thoughts on a different format that might be more useful.
On to the meeting… Continue reading
It seems so rare lately to get good news about transit, particularly in relation to transit finances, but this week I got two very exciting emails from AC Transit. One was a press release announcing that the district’s finances were in much better shape than had been expected so the hearing on declaring fiscal a emergency had been canceled. The other was an email to riders about the automatic talking bus announcements (don’t worry, they’re not adding more). Continue reading
Yesterday, I was riding the 51 bus to work and was a bit jarred by a recording played on the bus. I’m quite used to “talking” buses. Many of the trunk lines now announce major destinations and have been doing so for quite some time. But this message did not announce the intersection we were arriving at.
It was a security message, telling passengers to be aware of their surroundings and to report any suspicious things or activities. It made me feel like I was at an airport, or in a BART station.
I could tell it threw the other passengers off a bit too, maybe simply because it was the first time we’d heard it. People looked around a bit and several of us with headphones on had taken them off to listen to the message. It’s one thing to hear a message in a BART station, while you’re waiting for a train, but it felt much more intrusive while riding a bus. Continue reading
Tomorrow (Wednesday) evening, AC Transit will be holding another hearing on “fare changes and policies,” which mostly means fare increases, but with some policy changes that would reduce overall fares for some riders.
Why is AC Transit considering fare increases? Well, I think we all know AC Transit has been in financial trouble for quite some time, due to reduced state funding, little federal operations funding, increased gas costs, and increased health care and pension costs. But beyond that, the overall fare policies haven’t been reviewed as a whole for quite some time so staff and the Board decided to engage in this process. From AC Transit’s website: Continue reading
Have you heard about the Freedom Bus Project? It’s a collaboration between AC Transit and the Alameda County Office of Education that aims to celebrate the 55th Anniversary of Rosa Parks’ historic bus ride in Montgomery, Alabama via an art competition for students. The winners of the art competition will have their art displayed, not in a museum or a government building, but on buses!
From the press release:
Elementary, middle and high school students in the AC Transit service district, which spans Alameda County and West Contra Costa County, have submitted social justice-themed artwork to be considered for the Freedom Bus Project’s mobile art exhibit. Starting in April, four of the winning entries will be displayed in over 200 buses in the AC Transit fleet, allowing AC Transit riders to participate in the Freedom Bus Project. The mobile art exhibit will be on display until April 30, 2011.