If you are planning to hop on an AC Transit bus in Alameda or Contra Costa counties, better check the schedule first. Starting in August, many buses won't show up as often, and two lines won't show up at all, because of cuts the agency made Wednesday.
Officials at the Bay Area's third-largest public transportation system trimmed service on 40 of its 113 lines and eliminated Line 61 in Oakland and transbay Line BA, a 7.2 percent reduction they hope will save $11 million a year. The new cuts come on the heels of another reduction that took place in March. Without them, AC Transit anticipates a shortfall of $56 million by July 2011.
Wednesday afternoon, the board resolved not to make further service cuts through 2012.
However, that resolution is not binding.
The latest cuts merely tweaked most existing lines without making drastic changes.
"In some instances, the bus won't be coming as often or it won't be starting as early or ending as late," said board member Chris Peeples.
Line 61 in Oakland, which ran from the MacArthur BART station to Mountain Boulevard, and Line BA, which carried passengers from Oakland across the Bay Bridge to San Francisco, were the only lines to be eliminated. Line 61 had only five passengers per trip, making it the least used in Oakland, according to officials. And there is another transbay bus line in the area near Line BA, officials said.
Earlier proposed scenarios involved harsher cuts that would have nearly eliminated weekend service in most neighborhoods. Bus riders who crowded a public hearing last week vigorously opposed those scenarios, and the directors paid heed.
"I have to give tremendous credit to our staff. They have done their magic to minimize the pain," Director Jeff Davis said.
The tone of Wednesday's meeting was mostly cooperative, with both sides working together to find solutions to the district's financial problems.
Joyce Roy, an activist and former AC Transit board candidate, asked the board to hold off on the cuts because the agency might get funding from the proposed Public Transportation Preservation Act of 2010, a bill pending in the U.S. Senate. However, the funding was uncertain and "we had to act now," Peeples said.
Contact Janis Mara at 925-952-2671. Follow her at Twitter.com/jmara.