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AC Transit to cut services by 8.4% in face of $57-million budget deficit

Buses to operate on Sunday schedule over Christmas, New Year's holiday weekends

AC Transit announced today that it will 'streamline' bus services to help the agency offset a projected $57 million deficit next year.

At the same time, the agency said it will operate its buses on a Sunday, reduced-service schedule during both the Christmas and New Year's three-day holiday weekends. The transit service's business offices will be closed both holidays.

Clarence Johnson, AC Transit spokesman, said the service reductions for 2010 are being made "after months of internal planning and extraordinary public outreach" to help the agency offset a projected $57 million deficit next year.

"By a unanimous vote, the seven-member AC Transit board of directors adopted a plan that whittles the District's daily bus service by 8.4 percent," he said.

The new service adjustment plan will take effect starting next March and is expected to reduce the agency's spending by approximately $9.6 million a year.

"The new service plan was meticulously crafted over a span of more than nine months and involved an unprecedented series of hearings and public forums specifically to elicit comments and suggestions from riders and community residents," Johnson said. "In many instances, the public responses were incorporated to help shape what ultimately has become the adopted service plan."

It was an unusual process that resulted in changes district-wide, from Richmond to Fremont. But while routes virtually everywhere will be overhauled, consolidated and, in some cases, minimized, no community will be without vital bus services, Johnson explained.

However, because the route restructuring could result in longer waits for service, the transit board also voted to extend the district's bus transfer policy from 90 minutes to 120 minutes to allow passengers additional time to make their bus connections.

Along with the service adjustments, the district has had personnel lay-offs, imposed a hiring freeze, required all departments to improve efficiency by 15 percent and raised fares to cope with the forecasted shortfall.

Maps and other details about the service adjustments will be available in January, Johnson said.

For scheduling information over the Christmas and New Year's weekends, sign onto the district's website at www.actransit.org.

-Jeb Bing

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