Dispatches from the 5/24 AC Transit Board Meetings

(Editor’s note – many thanks to Transport Oakland super-volunteer Luke Kosar for attending the May 24th AC Transit Board of Director’s meeting and writing up this great recap of the meeting. Thanks Luke!)

BRT Updates, Electric Buses, and Service Changes

With the issue of supplemental school service to the Oakland Hills resolved for now, the A.C. Transit Board of Directors tackled many delayed items during their May 24th board meeting.

First, they quickly moved to accept several reports on items ranging from travel expenses and investment returns, to profits from surplus equipment liquidation. They also approved the purchase of five battery-electric buses for $4 million, $2.3 million of which will come from a federal zero-emissions transit grant. The new buses and charging technology will come from Gillig, a manufacturer based in Livermore.

The Board then moved on to detailed monthly reports on federal and state legislation, and construction progress for the bus rapid transit (BRT) project. Though there was some good news in the legislative update – the federal FAST, TIGER, and CIG programs have been fully funded by congress through fiscal year 2017 – there was some bad news in the BRT update, with staff reporting that, in a worst-case scenario, the BRT project stands two years behind schedule and $39 million over budget. Delays in construction have been primarily due to unexpected conditions surrounding buried utilities, and the need to mitigate impacts on local businesses and residents. However, staff is still hopeful the worst case can be avoided.

Next, the Board received a report on upcoming service changes for the ACGo June sign-up, as well as concerns over the program’s future implementation. Specifically, A.C Transit is having difficulty hiring enough bus operators for the planned service expansions under ACGo, and though no action was requested from the Board, staff indicated it would likely ask for a delay in implementation at a future date. The Board then moved on to approve a collective bargaining agreement with AFSCME Local 3916, renew A.C. Transit’s employee insurance plans with Kaiser Permanente, MetLife, and others, and, lastly, renew the District’s contract with TransDev for five years to provide federally-mandated paratransit services.

The next task for the Board will be A.C Transit’s budget for 2017. Having already held a board retreat and budget workshop on May 31st, we can expect a final proposed budget to be ready for the June 28th board meeting.

(Editor’s note, Part 2 – Transport Oakland is always looking for more volunteers to attend meetings and writers to share important updates with the public. If Luke’s write-up is interesting to you, consider joining our team! Email christopher@transportoakland.org for more details)