Faced with a deficit that could grow to as much as $57 million by the end of the current fiscal year, the Alameda-Contra Costa Transit District will hold a series of 10 public forums starting next week about its plan to reduce service by 15 percent.
The bus district had five public forums in May to receive suggestions from riders about ways to cut service so it can live within its budget.
Now that AC Transit's staff has developed a plan, the bus district wants to get more public comment, district spokesman Clarence Johnson said.
District officials say their plan was crafted over a period of seven months and has been designed to preserve service for as many people as possible.
AC Transit General Manager Rich Fernandez said, "We have taken a very detailed and principled approach to not so much cut service as to streamline it."
He said, "Despite our fiscal dilemma, the idea here is to not overly inconvenience our riders, to become even more efficient without dramatically disrupting our service. We have worked in earnest to do that."
The public forums will continue through Sept. 17.
Following the community workshops, the AC Transit Board of Directors will hold two public hearings.
The first hearing will be held at AC Transit's headquarters on Sept. 23 at 1600 Franklin St. in Oakland. The first session will be from 2 p.m. to 5 p.m. and the second session will be from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m.
The second hearing will be from 6 to 8 p.m. on Sept. 30 at the California School for the Blind Theater at 500 Walnut Ave. in Fremont.
Johnson said if AC Transit's board approves a service reduction plan it probably wouldn't take effect until Jan. 1.
The Alameda-Contra Costa Transit District serves more than 100 local lines within the East Bay and more than 35 TransBay lines to San Francisco and the Peninsula. AC Transit connects with 21 BART stations. It is the third largest all-bus system in California.