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LWV League of Women Voters of California Education Fund

Smart Voter
Alameda, Contra Costa County, CA November 4, 2008 Election
Candidates Answer Questions on the Issues
Board Member At-Large; Alameda-Contra Costa Transit District

The questions were prepared by the League of Women Voters of the Bay Area and asked of all candidates for this office.     See below for questions on Scheduling, Buses, Special events

Click on a name for candidate information.   See also more information about this contest.

? 1. How can AC improve the scheduling of the local buses?

Answer from Joyce Roy:

Some routes are simply too long such as the #51 which now goes from Alameda to the end of University Ave. in Berkeley. It should become two routes with, perhaps, the Rockridge BART station as the change point. The same for #1 and #1R which goes from Bayfair BART to downtown Berkeley. One portion should follow the old #82 route and go from Bayfair BART to West Oakland BART. The other portion should go from the Jack London AMTRAK station and up Telegraph to downtown Berkeley. Any line with Van Hool buses, which require more time for passengers to enter and get seated require a stretched out schedule.

Answer from H. E. Christian "Chris" Peeples:

I assume this question is about AC's schedule adherence -- how well the arrival of the buses actually matches the printed schedule. Schedule adherence is a major problem for AC Transit. The Board has made it a major focus over the next two years. We must address the problem in several ways.

We have technology that should be telling us if our buses are adhering to their schedules. We need to make it work and learn to deal with the flood of data it will bring and turn that data into useful information. We have recently hired a statistician to help with that work.

AC needs to make sure that our schedules are realistic given increasing traffic. That is expensive, because every time you add time to a schedule, that time has to come from somewhere else. We get paid by the trip, but most of our costs are by the hour, so a slower trip is a more expensive trip along with being less useful for our passengers.

We need to make sure that our road supervisors are helping our operators maintain their schedules, and feeding back information up the chain if the schedules are unrealistic. We have also deployed technology that lets our customers know where the buses are and when they are coming. We need to let more people know that is available.

? 2. Is there a demand for the smaller, hydrogen buses? Where?

Answer from Joyce Roy:

I don't think there is a demand for any hydrogen buses. They are very costly to purchase and operate and break down frequently. Shorter buses are appropriate for the hills but hydrogen buses labor up hills. Also all the seating on the hydrogen buses are on pedestals so they are treacherous for the elderly and disabled. But smaller, 30-ft diesel electric hybrid buses that have been on the market for 6 years in the USA would be a good choice to reduce air pollution and reduce fuel costs. But AC Transit's "special partner" Van Hool does not manufacture them.

Answer from H. E. Christian "Chris" Peeples:

This is really two questions. We have 61 smaller 30 foot buses. Most of them are the cute busses with a "hat" (actually it is a cap that covers the radiator on the roof). They run on routes that have light loads and/or run in residential neighborhoods where people prefer the smaller buses. Contrary to what most people think, it costs about the same to run a small bus as our largest buses because most of the costs are personnel costs -- salary and benefits for the drivers and mechanics. Those are the same for small and large buses.

AC has the most advanced and one of the largest hydrogen fuel cell bus test in the world. Our three hydrogen fuel cell buses are 40 feet long, taller than our diesel buses (because of the hydrogen tanks on the roof) and are quite heavy -- 37,000 lbs. v. 22,000 for a diesel bus. The eight new fuel cell buses we are getting are going to be lighter and somewhat less tall, but they will still be 40 foot buses. The fuel cell buses run on a wide verity of routes so that we and our research partners can evaluate their performance in a number of situations. One advantage of the fuel cell buses is that they are very quiet, with most of the noise coming from the tiers on the pavement, but it will be a while before we have enough to run them in neighborhoods.

? 3. Will buses be added for special events, as BART adds cars for "Game" days. Fremont will possibly have the A's, can AC Transit increase number of buses for events?

Answer from Joyce Roy:

No, it can't. They don't have a lot of spare buses just sitting around.

Answer from H. E. Christian "Chris" Peeples:

Buses are already added on existing lines for special events when we have the equipment and personal. For example, we add as many as 26 extra articulated buses on the 51 line for the seven Cal. Football games. Even when there is not a Cal. game, the 51 line is one of our most productive lines, boarding about 16,000 people a day. The games all occur on Saturdays when we have spare equipment and personal.

The Draft EIR for the proposed Fremont "A's" has not been published, so we do not know all their transit issues. We have, however, had some preliminary discussions with the "A's," and have identified some issues. Federal law prohibits us from operating "charter service." Thus, if there was no underlying service, we could not provide any "extra" service. Second, depending on road configuration, the service could take as many as 100 articulated buses. We have 112 in our fleet. At any given time about 15 of them are undergoing maintenance, so we don't have 100 articulated buses available at any given point and we have lines that require articulated buses all the time. Third, many of the 75+ games could be in the afternoon, getting out during evening peak, when we have no spare buses available. That is the reason that the Giants only have a few "businesspersons' specials" during the day -- most of their games are night or Saturday games. We look forward to the Draft EIR, so that we can comment in detail.

Responses to questions asked of each candidate are reproduced as submitted to the League.  Candidates' responses are not edited or corrected by the League.

The order of the candidates is random and changes daily. Candidates who did not respond are not listed on this page.

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Created: January 24, 2009 10:30 PST
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