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Infrastructure Solutions for the Eastshore Freeway Corridor

This is the first post in a two post series about maximizing mobility along the Eastshore Freeway Corridor in the Eastern San Francisco Bay Area. In this first post, I will concentrate on the infrastructure improvements that could alleviate congestion and lack of mobility in the area. In the second post I will focus on service improvements that will help achieve these goals. 

The Eastshore Freeway Corridor in the Eastern San Francisco Bay Area is plagued by chronic congestion. Unlike most freeways, the I-80/580 Eastshore Freeway is congested for elongated periods – generally 11am to 8pm on weekdays and 9am to 8pm on weekends. Southbound is generally more congested than northbound, although northbound during the PM peak is the most severe congestion on the roadway. At 10 lanes wide, the Eastshore Freeway cannot feasibly be widened and the current approach to managing transportation in the corridor is not effective as evidenced by 9+ hours of congestion every day. The current drive to improve freeway congestion in the corridor is well-intentioned and will substantially reduce congestion for a very low cost using ITS (intelligent transportation systems). While this approach to improving mobility has its merits, the sheer density and demand in this corridor requires a big-picture, large investment focus in addition to intermediate steps such as the the current Integrated Corridor Mobility Project.

Based on the environmental documents for the I-80 Integrated Corridor Mobility Project, almost 30% of traffic along I-80 West in the AM peak is traveling to and from Emeryville and Berkeley.  Most transit service currently serves the Downtown San Francisco and Downtown Oakland destinations along this corridor. Here I would like to present a radical re-imagining of mobility in the corridor to address this 30% (almost 80,000 AADT) of travelers whose origins and destinations lie within West Berkeley and Emeryville. This new look will address both local travelers and those entering the area from outside North Alameda County. First, local solutions.

Bounded by San Pablo Avenue and the Eastshore Freeway, this study area has existing, frequent, AC Transit bus transit service on San Pablo Avenue from north to south, and University Avenue fron east to west. In Emeryville, a municipally-operated shuttle, Emery-Go-Round, connects major employment destinations with MacArthur BART approximately 2 miles away. In addition, AC Transit operates routes 26 and 49, both of which pass through the area but run infrequently and do not directly serve high travel demand destinations. Amtrak operates the Capitol Corridor intercity train service that stops in West Berkeley and Emeryville, but peak frequency is one train per hour. Railroad right of way in the area is plentiful – existing condition is generally 3-4 tracks with between 10 and 30 lateral feet of additional right of way available.

To best provide local mobility along this corridor three solutions seem the most cost effective and realistic. First is constructing a true bus rapid transit line along San Pablo Avenue so AC Transit can provide more effective north-south service in the corridor. Current plans for a BRT corridor along International Boulevard in Oakland provide a great model for San Pablo – dedicated inner lanes over the corridor, signal prioritization and distinct, rail-like stations. Another shorter BRT corridor east-west along University Avenue would complement the San Pablo and Telegraph BRT services well, tying them together and connecting Downtown Berkeley and the dense University corridor to West Berkeley and Emeryville. Again, dedicated median lanes with rail-like stations would maximize ridership and transit effectiveness. The third and most significant proposed infrastructure investment in this study area is the implementation of a Bus Rapid Transit “Super-Loop” in the style of San Diego MTD’s SuperLoop service in La Jolla. Fully dedicated lanes and stations would begin at MacArthur BART and continue on a loop Emeryville, including a stop at the Watergate office tower complex. The short length of this corridor could allow for very frequent service, and prioritization would ensure speedy travel times. This type of transit service is exactly what sustains a transit oriented community, and it could help re-orient Emeryville towards transit instead of the current automobile-dependent model of its development.

Longer trips that begin outside the study area could also be greatly aided with the strategic addition of cost-effective infrastructure. Current express bus service generally caters to “traditional” commuters traveling to San Francisco in the AM peak and returning to the East Bay in the PM peak. AC Transit has, however, attempted to address the reverse commute to Emeryville and West Berkeley with the Z Transbay Line. This line is slow, runs infrequently and does not effectively serve many of the high travel demand destinations in the area. The BRT Super-Loop mentioned earlier would be key in a re-orientation of express bus service in the area. With HOV lane connections to the super loop from I-80 near Ashby Avenue and I-580 near MacArthur Boulevard, express bus service could rapidly and effectively serve travelers from as far away as Vallejo and Castro Valley. Current express bus services simply bypasses the area on the freeway – missing out on nearly 30% of the travel market that originates or is destined to West Berkeley and Emeryville. Some bus service that currently serves Downtown San Francisco from various East Bay destinations could be rerouted around the Super-Loop with a surprisingly small amount of delay (likely around 10 minutes), massively increasing viability of Transbay services that have seen a decline in ridership in recent years due to job fragmentation across the area.

A longer-term solution to mobility along the corridor lies in the vastly underused railway right-of-way currently used by Amtrak. The under construction eBART line in Eastern Contra Costa County and SPRINTER line in Northern San Diego County have set precedents for diesel multiple unit light rail service in California. As a first stage towards eventual electrification, DMU service could easily and cheaply be provided along the Amtrak right of way. Stations spaced between 0.75 and 1 mile apart along the corridor could support transit oriented development yet still allow for quick regional service. In fact, this DMU would be best utilized if it were extended outside the project area along the Amtrak right-of-way to Jack London Square or the Colosseum in Oakland, and to Richmond or further north in the other direction. Such a project would fulfill the requirements of the currently proposed wBART extension north of Richmond and also improve utilization of the existing corridor without requiring any new right-of-way. Even better, this line could connect to a future Transbay Tube, as suggested by Yonah Freemark over the the Transport Politic.

Many exciting options exist for serving this largely neglected portion of the Bay Area with transit. Improving mobility in the Eastshore Freeway Corridor is already underway with the ICM project, and it can only get better from here.

BART’s Future Washington Metro-Style

This is a map I composed my Senior Year in high school, cleaned up and updated for posting on here. It details the potential future configuration of rapid transit in the Bay Area, including running Caltrain as a rapid transit service with an integrated fare structure. The graphic style invokes the classic Washington Metro map, where uniformity takes precedence over geographical accuracy and scale. A metro map, after all, is intended to help you get around the metro system, not drive around the area. I hope you will find this map as enjoyable to view as it was for me to create.

The Bay Bridge’s New “Congestion” Tolls

A New Era in Bay Area Tolling, from the MTC.

Airlines charge more for tickets when demand is highest, baseball tickets are more expensive when the Yankees come to town and even rail fares (Washington Metro) are higher during peak hours. By charging more, these entities are giving consumers an economic incentive to consume their goods and services when demand is lower, spreading out usage and improving overall efficiency of their operations. Why then does is terrify Bay Area drivers that the Bay Bridge is instituting a form of this very same system? My response would be: it must be because of the MTC’s half baked implementation of congestion tolls.

Starting at 5am on July 1st, tolls increased to six dollars during peak hours, 5am-10am and 3pm-7pm. At other times on weekdays the toll is four dollars and on weekends toll is four dollars. Fine. Great. Unfortunantely, by giving drivers specific times that the toll will increase and decrease, the new system creates new, perverse incentives to change the time you drive to 10am or 2:45pm. Plus, isn’t the idea of congestion pricing to reduce congestion? The Bay Bridge is not most congested on weekday rush hours. During that time over 100,000 people take transit either on the bridge itself on in the Transbay Tube, vastly reducing car volumes. No, the most terrible time to be on the Bay Bridge is the weekend, which this toll increase and “congestion” pricing doesn’t really address. Systems like the I-15 HOT Lane in Southern California are prime examples of how congestion pricing should really be done.

In the I-15 HOT Lane in Northern San Diego County, congestion is constantly monitored by a central computer. Roadbed loops detect vehicle speed and volume. With this data, the computer automatically sets tolls ranging from 1.50 to 9 dollars. This toll is linked to an algorithm that ensures that traffic in the facility is moving at at least 45 miles per hour. To keep traffic moving that fast, it raises tolls during peak demand, and therefore reduces congestion. Why not implement something similar for the Bay Bridge? Vehicles just end up waiting at the metering lights past the toll plaza anyway. If the Bay Area Toll Authority introduced true congestion tolls, traffic volumes would massively decrease, transit usage would go up, and toll revenue would skyrocket. No one loses in this situation. Transit riders continue with their status quo, but drivers suddenly no longer have to deal with traffic congestion. Yes, they may have to pay much more to cross the bridge, but hey, in Staten Island they pay 12 dollars to cross the Verranzo Narrows Bridge. So quit complaining. Time in this case is money.

The system would work like this. MTC/BATA would have a website with minute to minute updates on the current toll. Your family is going to see a movie in San Francisco and you are debating driving or taking BART. You look on the website and see that the toll for the Bay Bridge is 15 dollars and decide to take BART. Those who MUST drive to the city get a freely-moving freeway and those who have alternatives, like this family, choose the most effecient alternative. Hell, some of this extra toll revenue could be funneled into lower prices for AC Transit Transbay Buses or BART Transbay Service, making transit truly competitive with driving.

Realigning the economic incentives of transportation to reflect land use and climate change concerns is good for all of society in the long run. Unfortunately, current trends in transportation have led to an archaic, perverse incentive system which inherently encourages inefficient, sprawling development, and transportation by the least efficient mode possible: the single occupancy automobile. Congestion pricing on a single bridge will not immedietely change these sad realities, but over time the equalization of prices in transportation could revolutionize American urban form and life for the better.

As a final note, I neglected posting to Wilshire/Vermont for about two weeks in order to become oriented with my new job as an Intern for the Transbay Transit Center Project. I hope you will forgive me. For the foreseeable future, posts will be up on Tuesdays and Thursdays each week. I can only manage two posts a week for now; when I get back to school it will again increase to three on Monday, Wednesday and Friday. Thanks for reading.

Transit Oriented Development and an Albany BART Station

Future BART infill stations must be in locations where development is already dense or opportunities exist for transit oriented development. An Albany Infill BART Station fulfills both of these requirements. Such a station, in correlation with a rigorous policy of dense development, would create a livable, walkable community in central Albany. This new outlook on infill BART stations, combining  transit and land use decisions, would be a huge change for BART and would set a great example for future BART stations.

Albany is unique in its relationship to the BART system. It is a small, relatively dense town that BART passes through without stopping on an elevated guideway. North Berkeley and El Cerrito Plaza Stations are fairly close to Albany’s borders but from central Albany and Solano Avenue, either station is a 20 minute walk. Solano Avenue represents a significant draw for BART patrons due to its pedestrian scale and variety of boutique shops and hosts frequent AC Transit bus service from Line 18. These two considerations already make Albany an attractive location for an infill station. If the City of Albany puts together a package of zoning changes, developer incentives, and a removal of the parking requirement around the future BART station the package would be complete and an infill station would be worth its cost, likely around 150 million dollars.

The development changes I have highlighted on the map above are mostly centered around increasing residential density, while retaining mixed use growth patterns around Solano Avenue and immediately adjacent to the two station entrances. Essential life services like dry cleaning, grocery and childcare should be included in the development. Other retail and some office space could easily be included on the relatively tall buildings noted in pink. Albany could add over 2,000 units of housing in the area of this new station with the density and height limits I propose here.

Also important is station access for pedestrians. Nearly all of the City of Albany is within a 10 minute walk of this proposed station, parking is not included at all in my vision of this project, and bus service will be provided at Solano and Masonic Avenue, nearly 200 feet from the entrances, so pedestrians and cyclists are the only customers designers need to consider when completing a plan for the Albany Station. In the triangular strip of land around the north entrance to the station, a large pedestrian plaza could be encircled by the high density development I call for there. This entrance would open up to Key Route Boulevard where bicycle parking facilities could be included on the wide median and new bike lanes could be striped all the way to El Cerrito. Sidewalks on Key Route, Masonic and Solano could be widened to 15-20 feet in order to handle increased foot traffic.

Obviously the construction of 7 to 10 story towers in a neighborhood of largely single occupancy homes will stir up controversy. Residents will worry about increased traffic congestion, building shadows and demolition of homes to make way for more dense development. Arlington County, Virginia’s Rosslyn-Ballston Corridor is an ideal example of how to integrate high density, high rise development into a neighborhood of detached homes. Like on my map, Arlington’s tallest buildings are within 500 feet of Washington Metro station exits. From there, buildings dramatically decrease in height until 1500-2000 feet away from a station entrance, low rise homes are again the predominant building class. For the Albany Station, I have included a similar pattern, limiting very tall buildings to Solano Avenue and a revamped Key Route Boulevard. Surrounding these tall buildings would be smaller 3-4 story residential buildings followed immediately by a return to the single occupancy home building stock. Such a development pattern would better integrate the new development into the city’s urban fabric and give Albany’s brand new skyline a more unified look and feel. Traffic congestion will be a non-issue for this new station due to a lack of parking and dramatically reduced (or eliminated) parking requirements for new development around the station. That said, Albany must carry out improvements in pedestrian and bicycle infrastructure if this station is built.

Done right, Albany BART could become the center of a new downtown for Albany. Thousands of new residents and a large increase in commercial space, all within a five minute walk of rapid transit service to San Francisco, will help Albany’s tax revenue to continue to grow and allow the city of 18,000 to occupy a more prominent role in the San Francisco Bay Area. I hope to see serious consideration of an Albany BART station in my lifetime, along with an equally serious proposal to accompany the station with very dense development. It also wouldn’t hurt to finally have a hometown BART station for me.

New Urban Metro Lines for the Bay Area’s Dense Core

In my last post I discussed a new future for the San Francisco Bay Area’s BART System, using current lines and a new subway in San Francisco to turn BART into a more urban rapid transit system. These ideas were less drastic than the one I will propose here.

BART has failed the Bay Area if one were to think of it as a metro system standard in other parts of the world. Stops are widely spaced and dense areas are bypassed using freeway medians or railroad right of ways. To remedy this situation, the Bay Area could build a new set of urban subway lines unlike any currently existing BART lines. Taking as inspiration the Metro Red and Purple Lines in Los Angeles, two new BART lines in the inner East Bay, one along MacArthur Boulevard in Oakaland and another along Broadway and College Avenue to Berkeley, could dramatically improve mobility in the densest parts of the East Bay and reduce traffic and crowding on AC Transit’s busiest bus routes. Unlike previous BART lines, stops would be spaced every 3/4 of a mile or less to cater to riders who will walk, not drive, to stations. These two lines would join together onto the new Transbay Tube I proposed in my last post then diverge again after the large station at the Transbay Terminal. From there, a third trunk line in San Francisco would carry trains from these new East Bay branches. To capture the most ridership, I chose Folsom Street in the South of Market neighborhood and then a sharp turn north onto Van Ness Avenue continuing to Fisherman’s Wharf.

Together with my previous post on a second transbay tube, this Urban BART project would allow riders from the densest parts of both sides of the bay to connect to each other quickly and without transfers. A new track connection between the old tube and the new could facilitate the introduction of many new service patterns and give BART flexibility to short turn trains from all branches of the system for rush hour services. As shown on my google map, I believe a renewed BART system with a second Transbay Tube, several infill station and three new urban subway lines could approach or surpass the daily ridership of the Washington Metro to become the US’ second busiest heavy rail transit system. On the Geary and Van Ness Lines in San Francisco, over 250,000 riders use parallel bus corridors every day on San Francisco’s Muni. Along the College Avenue and MacArthur Lines, AC Transit’s buses carry over 50,000 riders per day. The demand for high capacity rail transit exists in the corridors I’ve highlighted in this Urban BART proposal, and the two corridors in the East Bay provide great opportunities for transit oriented development around the many new stations. This new Urban BART service will facilitate a transit lifestyle, not just a transit commute, because of its increased frequency and pedestrian-scaled station spacing. Indeed these new lines, along with infill stations on current BART lines, will dramatically increase the utility of a system that is already mostly built. With this investment, especially in the second Transbay Tube, the Bay Area will finally realize the full potential of its BART System.

Politically these two massive BART projects (Urban BART and the second Transbay Tube) are potential disasters at best. All previous extensions of BART, excluding BART to SFO Airport, were built to placate residents of Alameda and Contra Costa Counties who paid the BART sales tax but did not have local BART service. This political reason was why the unproductive Dublin/Pleasanton and Pittsburg/Bay Point extensions were built in the first place. In order for these multi billion dollar projects to have a chance of seeing the light of day, politics must be dropped and MTC and all Bay Area transit agencies must put down their arms and accept that a reinvention of BART is in everyone’s best interest. On that note, I will present again my idea for a consolidated Bay Area transit agency, bamta.

BART’s expansion policy has been warped by the system’s focus as essentially a beefed up commuter rail operation. Yes BART has grade separated right of ways with no frieght traffic (freight trains don’t even operate on the same track gauge), but distances between stations of over 5 miles in some locations and frequency no greater than 4 trains per hour on four out of five lines really sounds like Metra in Chicago or New York’s Metro North Railroad. Ridership for BART is similar to these two systems. BART’s suburban extension craze of the 1990’s was a result of politics, as mentioned above, and interestingly the lack of investment in San Francisco by BART is also political. San Francisco owns and operates its own rail system, Muni Metro. As indicated in the name, Muni Metro functions as a subway/metro system for much of its length and connects much of the city to BART and Caltrain regional rail services. San Francisco’s direct control over Muni provides a disincentive for any investment in heavy rail BART in the city. Indeed since BART fully opened in 1976 not a single additional mile of track has been built in San Francisco. Muni Metro has built three large extensions and is in the process of building a subway line through downtown (see this article). If BART and Muni were to be merged into the regional bamta transit agency, this disincentive would disappear. On corridors where ridership merits heavy rail subway technology, such as Geary Boulevard, San Francisco will get the transit service it deserves instead of having to endure the reality of current transit governance.

For a second Transbay Tube and Urban BART to become reality, BART will need to shift its focus from getting people to and from work to being a full time, pedestrian-friendly transit system. For this breakthrough to be feasible a large change in the Bay Area’s transit priorities and governance is likely necessary. Hopefully when the last drops of capacity on the current tube dry up such options will be taken more seriously. For now, I wait.

What BART Should Look Like in 2030.

The San Francisco Bay Area is an interesting transportation case study because of its geography. Several mountain ranges and a large body of water present challenges in building new infrastructure and often create bottlenecks on bridges and tunnels. Such a situation increases the attractiveness of high capacity transit. Luckily, the Bay Area has BART, the first of the modern heavy rail systems built in the United States. In areas where BART parallels a congested bottleneck freeway, such as the  Transbay Tube and Berkeley Hills Tunnel, ridership is high. Unfortunately, because BART was the first of its kind, a modern system designed to be compatible with driving, BART does not work as well as other systems of the same age, especially the Washington Metro in DC. In this post, I’d like to address the reasons why BART does not work well as an urban transit system and how in 20 years with a large investment BART can grow into a true Metro system for the San Francisco Bay Area.

Two main issues plague BART’s ascension to a great rail transit system. The first is a lack of political backing for transit oriented development (TOD) near BART stations. The second is the actual design of the system, especially the large distances between stations and choices of right of way for several lines. For the purpose of this article, I am going to refer to the lines by color even though BART lines are commonly named by their terminus.

Transit Oriented Development is essential to the success of any rail transit project. The availability of frequent, quick service to employment centers allows dense housing and retail development within 1/4 of a mile of a rail station, while drastically reducing the amount of parking needed. BART has two TOD projects that have already opened, Fruitvale Village in Oakland and a project at the Pleasant Hill Station. Both are mostly housing, ignoring the need for grocery stores, dry cleaners and other essential services, and are not as high density as TOD in other parts of the country. BART has no excuse to not further promote TOD around its stations. BART owns surface parking around many of its stations and could easily sell the land to developers to build large, dense projects. Local government has been getting in the way of this density. A classic NIMBY (not in my backyard) argument against density increases is that density increases crime, traffic and noise. All three are mitigated by proximity to frequent rail transit. Stations like North Berkeley and Orinda being surrounded by single family detached homes and surface parking are detrimental for ridership numbers and waste the investment of rail transit. BART must encourage local governments to allow more dense development and provide land for developers on which to build.

More importantly, the design of BART’s first 104 miles is conducive to suburb to downtown commuting and largely ignores the needs of urban riders in San Francisco, Oakland and Berkeley. Long distances between station, especially in Oakland, and the routing of four routes onto a single San Francisco subway line limit ridership and utility to the huge pool of potential riders in the most urban areas of the Bay Area. One immediate solution is the construction of infill stations. On the map above, I have detailed several infill stations that could attract a large number of riders. On the Red Line I suggest building an station at Solano Avenue in Albany and a station at 58th Street in North Oakland. For the Green Line I’ve added infill stations at 15th Avenue in Oakland, at 54th Avenue in Oakland, and at 98th Avenue in Oakland. All three will serve people without access to an automobile and dramatically increase ridership along this portion of BART. On the Yellow I included an infill station at Oak Grove Road in Concord and a station at 30th Street and Mission Street in San Francisco. Feasibility studies have already been conducted on this 30th/Mission Station and construction could start soon if the 700 million dollar cost was allocated. Also, studies have stated that a 30th/Mission Station would be an ideal short turn station for the Green Line, hence its termination there on my map.

Part of the issue with BART is capacity in the Transbay Tube. BART’s automatic train control (ATC) can only handle a frequency of 27 trains per hour (a train every 2 minutes and 13 seconds). BART already runs this frequency during the peak hour in the peak direction. This limitation also reduces frequency on outer branches of the system to 4 trains per hour (a train every 15 minutes), even during rush hour when demand is highest. This limitation will become a huge issue if opportunities for TOD are explored further and reverse peak and suburb to suburb commuting become more common on BART. I propose a dramatic, expensive, but necessary solution. Build a second Transbay Tube.

A second tube could include Oakland Wye (the main switch between BART lines) bypass track segments that serve important destinations in the East Bay. The Red Line could split immediately after MacArthur Station to an underground Emeryville Station then follow the Union Pacific right of way to the new tube’s portal. The Blue Line could split after the new San Antonio Station and travel along the Union Pacific right of way, dipping into subway for a Jack London Square Station, then emerging to join the Red Line and cross under the bay. Once in San Francisco, this line would stop at the new Transbay Transit center then follow Geary Boulevard all the way out to the Richmond District. This corridor’s bus ridership easily merits heavy rail transit with over 200,000 bus riders on and near Geary. This Geary route conforms with the general consensus of transportation planners regarding the routing of a second BART line through San Francisco. Around 18th Avenue, the Red Line would diverge from Geary Boulevard and travel south under 19th Avenue, serving the Sunset District and San Francisco State University. Just before the Daly City Station, the Red Line would rejoin the Yellow Line and continue along its current route through San Mateo County to Millbrae Station. A beachside terminal for the Blue Line would allow a shorter route for the line and complete the entire length of Geary Boulevard, from bay to breakers. Such a proposal is dramatic not only because of its cost (likely 8 billion dollars or more) but because I estimate that over 300,000 riders would use this new tube and urban subway, nearly doubling BART’s ridership.

Finally, I have added three suburban extensions of current lines on my map. The Green Line extension to San Jose is already under construction to Warm Springs and Santa Clara County has sales tax revenue to cover the rest of the line. An extension of the Blue Line to Livermore is under serious study right now, and I’ve included alternative 2a from the planning process, BART along I-580 then a short cut and cover subway to Downtown Livermore where a new intermodal terminal with ACE commuter rail service would be built. The Red Line extension on my map has not yet been studied nor is funded in any way, but completes a deficiency in the BART network by connecting Northwest Contra Costa County to the rest of the Bay Area. These suburban extensions would fill out BART and, with adequate policy, encourage transit oriented development around stations. The increased frequency of trains on outer branches due to the second Transbay Tube would allow for more opportunities in density growth around these new stations.

The San Francisco Bay Area is lucky to have BART, but a large injection of capital and a change in priority could change the system from a commuter rail-like operation to a true urban rapid transit system. If you want a more geographically accurate map of my 2030 BART plan look at the bottom of the article. Again, stay tuned for my post on the politics of transportation in Los Angeles.

AC Transit, an Agency In Crisis

AC Transit is a major bus operator in Alameda and Contra Costa Counties in California. It is now the largest bus-only transit agency in the United States, serving over 200,000 riders per day, many of whom are transit dependent. Despite these credentials, AC Transit is not often discussed in national transit circles like Seattle’s King Metro or WMATA’s Metro Bus because it is separate from BART, the rail transit agency serving the region. Nonetheless, AC Transit is an interesting and surprisingly large agency with a major Bus Rapid Transit project in planning. On March 30th, AC Transit cut service hours by around 10 percent to compensate for a loss of state funds and lower sales tax revenue. These service cuts were targeted, consolidating routes into loops and eliminating the least productive routes. Even after these cuts and a recent fare increase a further cut in service is scheduled for August.

Unlike the recent March service cut, which managed to increase efficiency without cutting major services, this new cut coming in August will be painful, affecting even the most used routes. Three different plans are on the table. One is cutting nearly all weekend service, another is eliminating service after 10PM and the third option is cutting all service by 10 percent. Some combination of these three options may also be adopted. On the map, I have highlighted routes likely to be deleted or reduced significantly based on ridership.

As seen on my map, these potential service cuts are massive. They will vastly reduce mobility for those in the East Bay who lack an automobile and aren’t near a BART station. AC Transit’s main corridors, which account for the highest ridership numbers, will mostly maintain their current level of service but most other service will but cut or dramatically scaled back. These feeder routes may not sustain much ridership, but they serve the people who need bus service the most, low income people in the Richmond-Berkeley-Oakland area who can’t afford to drive.

You’ll notice that Berkeley is one of the main cities in AC Transit’s service area. Being born in Berkeley and growing up there has helped me see the irony and hypocrisy of many of its residents. In Berkeley, a Toyota Prius is a must because it’s saving the environment, right? Not so. A Toyota Prius is like diet soda. Slightly better, but still bad. If residents of Berkeley want to tout their environmentalism and progressive ideals, they must advocate on behalf of AC Transit and save the agency with new revenue sources. Also, Berkeley’s City Council must approve of AC Transit’s plan to build a Bus Rapid Transit system on the route of the 1R route. This BRT line would improve service and cut costs because BRT lines offer more reliable service, therefore less service hours per rider.

Sadly many transit agencies in the United States are in dire financial situations like AC Transit. Priorities for transportation in America have been skewed for an entire generation and continue to be wildly biased toward the use of the automobile, a device whose use wastes energy and promotes growth patterns that are neither sustainable nor pleasant. Something needs to change, and soon.