(Casey Miner, KALW) It's been a rough few months for public transit in the San Francisco Bay Area -- it seems like every few weeks there's news about fares going up or service going down. AC Transit, the bus service that is the East Bay counterpart to San Francisco's Muni, has been particularly hard-hit. Though the bus service only has about 236,000 weekday riders, compared to close to 700,000 on Muni, it serves an area that is much more geographically spread out. If you don't drive in the East Bay, AC Transit is a vital service.
The problems that arise when the bus service goes awry have been particularly visible this week. More than 200 drivers have called in sick every day, in protest of a new contract the bus agency imposed on their union. The result has been hour-plus waits for many buses, even on the busiest lines. Earlier this week, twelve transbay runs (from San Francisco to the East Bay) were canceled altogether, leaving evening commuters scrambling for a way to get home.
So this last week has been bad, but things have been getting worse for AC Transit passengers for months. In March, the agency cut about eight percent of its service – shortening hours, switching and combining some lines, and cutting some routes altogether. They’re doing it to save money, but the budget situation hasn’t gotten any better, so they’re making another round of cuts next month.
So just what happens when a bus line disappears? (more)