The COVID pandemic brought our public bus system to the brink of collapse. Many routes and service hours that were cut still have not been restored. Ridership has dwindled due to infrequent service and high fares. Exacerbating the issue, AC Transit’s hiring freeze over the pandemic has resulted in a transit worker shortage requiring rapid hiring and training in order to even have enough drivers to bring bus service back to pre-pandemic levels.
Fortunately, over $110 million in federal rescue funds is on the way to AC Transit– the transit agency has already received $66 million, and will receive another $44 million in six months. This money is intended to restore public transit. However, AC Transit is not taking the rapid action required to spend these funds and to get transit back up and running. It is instead keeping the money in the bank for future budget shortfalls.
This is why riders and transit workers demand that:
AC Transit must spend the first $66 million now to hire and train transit workers, restore service including paratransit, reduce fares and provide hazard pay to the frontline transit workers who kept AC Transit moving throughout the pandemic.
AC Transit must make a plan for the next $44 million now, in public meetings that give transit workers and riders a democratic say in how and when those tens of millions of dollars are spent.