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AC Transit Realign Plan: Shaping the Future of Public Transit in Richmond

CM Robinson's Staff

May 29, 2023

As the pandemic continues to reshape our daily lives, it has also had a profound impact on public transit systems across the country. Richmond's own Alameda-Contra Costa Transit District (AC Transit) has experienced a significant decline in ridership, leading to budget shortfalls and operational challenges. In response to these unprecedented circumstances, AC Transit has launched the Realign Plan—a comprehensive assessment of every bus line within their service network—to address the changing travel patterns and realign their services to meet the needs of the community.

The Realign Plan is not just a statistical study of bus lines; it goes beyond numbers and embraces the personal experiences of riders. AC Transit recognizes the importance of incorporating the voices of the community into this process. Through comprehensive surveys, public meetings, and one-on-one conversations facilitated by community-based organizations, they aim to capture the insights and experiences of riders. This valuable input, combined with quantitative data, will serve as the foundation for a renewed bus network that prioritizes equity and enhances the overall rider experience.

AC Transit faces significant challenges due to the historic decline in ridership and fare losses. Overall ridership is currently only at 60 percent of pre-pandemic levels, which means the revenue collected through fareboxes is insufficient to sustain the transit district. While AC Transit has received federal relief funds to keep the bus lines operational, these funds will soon be exhausted. Without a substantial increase in fare revenues and subsidies from regional, state, and federal sources, AC Transit may be forced to implement service cuts—a scenario that nobody desires.

Service cuts would have far-reaching implications for the 25.5 million riders who depend on AC Transit as a lifeline service. Moreover, the transit system is critical to the infrastructure of the entire San Francisco Bay Area. Recognizing the importance of maintaining a robust public transportation system, AC Transit has embarked on the Realign Plan, which consists of five consecutive phases aimed at developing a new service plan.

The first phase, currently underway, focuses on assessing current travel patterns and the community's needs. AC Transit is actively seeking feedback from riders through surveys and outreach initiatives to better understand their priorities and concerns. This data will inform the development of a draft set of guiding principles, which will be refined based on input from riders, community members, and the AC Transit Board of Directors in the second phase.

With the guiding principles in place, the third phase will involve the development of service scenarios that offer alternative configurations of routes and schedules throughout the service area. This phase will provide an opportunity for riders and the community to provide feedback and help shape the future of bus service in Richmond. AC Transit is committed to incorporating quantitative and qualitative data, financial considerations, and workforce availability to align service schedules, coverage, and frequencies with the needs identified by the community.

By updating their service to meet the travel patterns of the new normal, AC Transit aims to ensure that bus service remains accessible and efficient for all residents. The Realign Plan provides an opportunity to overhaul service policies and standards, aligning them with current transit conditions and industry best practices. Through this process, AC Transit is reaffirming its commitment to equity and setting the stage for a more sustainable and rider-centric future.

The Realign Plan is an ambitious endeavor that requires active participation from the community. AC Transit encourages everyone to contribute their insights and experiences to help shape the future of public transit in Richmond. Together, we can ensure that the bus service meets the needs of the community, promotes equity, and remains a vital part of our transportation infrastructure.

Make sure your voice is heard by completing a survey today:

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