Collaborative residents protest bus cuts
Roderick Coleman uses the AC Transit buses that roll through his Alameda Point Collaborative neighborhood every half hour to take groups of kids to baseball games. But if the bus service’s managers follow through on cuts their board voted to make at the end of this year, he’ll no longer be able to do that.
The buses, he says, offer “leeway to get them out of here,” Coleman said of the youths as he manned the turntable at a Collaborative picnic on Saturday. Without bus service, “they’re just stuck in here, there’s going to be a lot of problems.”
Residents at the Collaborative and its director, Doug Biggs, are rallying to try to stop service cuts that would eliminate weekend service at Alameda Point, forcing the Collaborative’s residents – many of whom are physically disabled – to walk a mile to and from the nearest bus stop to catch a bus for shopping, appointments and work.
“You might as well take my shoes away and tell me to stay in,” said Roland Reynolds, Resident Council president for Dignity Commons, which houses veterans at Alameda Point.
On September 22, AC Transit’s board approved cutting weekend service on 34 bus lines and eliminating four of its six “all-nighter” lines in an effort to bridge a deficit projected at $41 million over the next two years. Still, AC Transit officials have expressed some hope they can work out a deal with drivers to help the agency save money.
But if the agency follows through, the cuts will be trouble for Collaborative residents, many of whom rely on the 31 bus, Reynolds said. Reynolds uses the bus to get to and from doctor’s appointments, the grocery store and more, he said, showing a reporter a badly swollen knee that he said limits his ability to walk.
Reynolds said he’d be willing to accept service cuts. But the loss of direct weekend service would leave many Point residents in isolation, he said.
Resident Maria Ramirez said she struggles to walk to Webster Street to catch the bus to work in Oakland. The elderly Ramirez was disabled by a broken spine.
“Most of us out here have disabilities or handicaps. So we have to have some form of public transportation available to us,” she said.
So far, Collaborative residents have collected more than 80 signatures on a petition to stop the cuts, Biggs said Saturday. And he and others said they’re hopeful AC Transit’s leaders will reconsider their plans to cut service.
“The best we can do is make sure our voices are heard,” Reynolds said.