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The goodbye bus

Submitted by on 1, August 26, 2009 – 5:50 am4 Comments

4-300x198Folks in the West End are launching a concerted effort to save bus service that could be eliminated as part of AC Transit’s plans to slash costs.

The beleaguered bus service needs to cut its budget by 15 percent. So they’ve proposed a raft of service reductions in Alameda, including eliminating the portion of the 63 line that serves the West End (and its high schools).

The line change would effectively cut off an area west of Webster Street, below Atlantic Avenue, from bus service.

AC Transit staff has proposed an extension of another line to replace some of the lost service, bus some folks are saying it won’t be enough. They’re circulating a flyer to get people out to a September 12 public hearing on the proposed cuts. “If you want to keep the bus service, you need to be there,” it says.

The loss of the bus service could most hurt low-income West End residents and seniors, many of whom don’t drive. From a city staff report on a recent meeting on the proposed cuts:

Beyond the numbers of boardings and alightings, the populations that use the 63 tend to be lower income individuals and seniors, many of whom do not have access to a vehicle. The 63 provides the only transit service to Alameda Point, where the Alameda Point Collaborative is located, and also provides direct service to Independence Plaza and Anne B. Diament Plaza, the City’s two largest senior residential facilities.

Steve Gerstle, a West End resident who is working to save bus service, said the loss of bus service would leave some without access to food. “There is no grocery in the West End,” he said. He said the bus also provides a West End connection to Chinatown, which is “important for social and cultural needs as well as for food.”

Students at the West End’s high schools would also be impacted by the loss of service, which School Board Trustee Nielsen Tam said at the board’s meeting Tuesday night could increase truancy.

City Councilman Frank Matarrese, who has been working on the issue, said he understands that AC Transit needs to make cuts. “But hitting the West End with the loss of 63 service is not the answer,” he said.

He said it’s crucial people turn out to the public hearing, which is from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday, September 12 at Independence Plaza, 703 Atlantic Avenue. They’ll be in the community meeting room. In the meantime, here are AC Transit’s current service map and the proposed one (pay close attention to that blue line to your left):



  • Dave Kirwin says:

    Think AC Transit will provide bus service for those west End folks to get to the public meetings on the service loss for their neighborhoods?

    JKW has been mute for a while. Though I respect him more with his silence, (or because of it), why silent now when he should be putting on his superhero cape to save transit for the West Enders who don't own the means to alternative transportation? Aren’t these the public transit folks he most needs to support?

    At least Bank of Alameda helped Cycles of Change, so it is easier and more affordable to get a working bicycle out at the Point…

  • Jono Soglin says:

    I agree that one of the most serious gaps in service for Alameda under the proposal is the lack of any regular service to the area west of Webster and south of Atlantic. The folks in that area—particularly those who live far from Atlantic—are really left out and have no easy bus access to a grocery. (I would note, however, that not all West-enders are left without bus access to a grocery. For folks on the proposed new 31 line, which would serve the Point and run on Atlantic, there would be direct bus service to a west-end grocery: the Lucky's at Marina Village.)

    Also, the impact on the schools could be serious, but keep in mind that the proposals do not (yet) include any changes to the special AC-transit school runs (e.g. the 631). That's not to say that some students who currently rely on the 63 rather than the special school runs–and there are many–won't be affected.

    Another problem is the limited late-night service—only the lines slated to replace the 51 (i.e. running along Webster and Santa Clara) will apparently run after 10 pm.

    The cuts are significant and hopefully the proposals can be tweaked to lessen the impact in Alameda. But AC transit has to make cuts, a reflection of the very sorry state of public-transit funding.

  • Doug Biggs says:

    Dave, the problem is that there is no one homogeneous West End. The new bus proposals actually improve service for residents of Alameda Point, who have made up the bulk of the ridership on the portion of the line west of Webster. By taking the line off of Lincoln though, it does impact riders in that area of West Alameda. A good compromise seems to be to keep the line on Lincoln instead of Atlantic.

    For the record also, John has been a strong and consistent advocate of transit for APC residents, and is always the first one to send me any heads-ups if there are potential changes.

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