To the Editor:
I strongly oppose “bailing out” AC Transit. Booting out the entire antiquated system would give Berkeley a chance to install a true public transport service.
Take the bus 51 for example. This dirty crowded bus meanders from Berkeley's Marina to Jack London Square. Thirty years ago this might have been a reasonable route. Now, with traffic quadrupled, it has no hope of keeping to a schedule.
Better, in my view, would be a Berkeley city circular shuttle along the east-west corridors (Cedar, University, Ashby Avenues etc.) which would pick up intercity buses routed along the north-south corridors.
I will gloss over the horror stories we all share – the driver who fails to see people waiting at designated stops, the driver who writes in his journal while letting go of the steering wheel, the driver who refuses to give a transfer when one gets on the wrong bus by mistake – because these are human errors of judgement. It is when one walks home along a bus route, and no bus appears in either direction during the 45 minutes it takes, that one realizes that there is something fundamentally wrong.
The fundamental problem with AC Transit is its poor structure, and no amount of money will correct this. We have proof of this. A few years ago AC Transit received a grant of several million dollars from the federal government to install equipment which, I was told by an AC executive, would “tell us where the buses are.” This sounds to me like a colossal waster of our money.
Let us get rid of this shambling behemoth and install something worthy of Berkeley – friendly, clean, small shuttle buses, efficiently run, cheap and environmentally excellent.