Island Talkback: Jan Greene’s farewell to the 50 bus
Alamedans who travel frequently, as I do, are fortunate to live near Oakland International Airport. (Of course, that assumes you don’t live under the flight path of those buzzy little private planes.)
Because it’s so conveniently located, I always try to use Oakland’s airport instead of SFO, which requires a lengthy BART ride under the Bay, through the city and down the Peninsula.
Even better, did you know there was a quick, easy way to get to the Oakland airport for less than $2? For years AC Transit has been running its No. 50 line through Alameda’s main island, swinging through Bay Farm and dropping off right in front of the terminal. Convenient, affordable, environmentally correct and even scenic, it was.
Unfortunately, the operative word is “was.” The No. 50 bus is no more. Apparently just a handful of people used it each day, so on March 28 the line was eliminated in AC Transit’s rather gigantic round of recent budget cuts.
This is a bummer, particularly because I didn’t know the bus had gone away when I arrived at Oakland airport on April 5 with enough time in my schedule to wait for public transit. I went out to the AC Transit curb, looked at the No. 50 schedule posted on a pole and gazed eagerly at the horizon, waiting for my ride.
Being a skeptic at heart, I thought I should double check, since you can’t believe everything you read on an airport pole. I smart-phoned my way to the 511 transit planner and up popped four different options for getting home, each more bizarre and circuitous than the next. Take the AirBART bus to Coliseum BART to Fruitvale and get on another bus into Alameda? An hour and a half to get about five miles? A call to AC Transit confirmed that despite what the pole said, there was no No. 50 bus, and no simple way to get to Alameda.
Hey, AC Transit? Can you get someone out to the airport to remove that No. 50 schedule from the pole? Thanks.
Chagrined and defeated in my vain attempt to get home using public transit, I went over to the taxi line and grabbed a cab home. I was avoiding this because four out of the last five cabs I’ve taken from the airport to Alameda’s East End resulted in an angry diatribe from the driver about how long he had to wait in line for a fare, and then I’m only going a relatively short distance. But that’s another rant for another day. (And, I should add, none of these grumps were Alameda-based cab drivers, who have always been very pleasant.)
It’s not that the taxis from Alameda are that expensive, and I’m happy to support Alameda’s small cab and limo services. But I thought we were supposed to get out of cars, and I thought public transit was supposed to serve major transportation centers, like airports. I understand the budget cuts, but it seems to me they’re really cutting at the essentials at this point. And I’m just trying to get to the airport … I can’t imagine what a pain this is for people who depend on the bus to get to work or school. At some point cutting essential services is making our society and its goals for economic and environmental vibrancy go backwards, not forward to some taxpayer nirvana.
Oh well. Goodbye, No. 50 bus.