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August 15,2023

AC Transit acknowledged by American Public Transportation Association for the first time in its 60 Year history

OAKLAND, Calif. – The Alameda-Contra Costa Transit District (AC Transit) is thrilled to announce that for the first time in over 60 years of operations, AC Transit has achieved the highest recognition among public transit agencies by receiving the 2023 Outstanding Public Transportation System Award from the American Public Transportation Association (APTA).

"This accomplishment stands as a testament to the unwavering dedication and persistence of AC Transit's nearly 2200 employees," said Joel Young, Board President. "Whether Bus Operators, Mechanics, Supervisory or administrative staff, they have selflessly worked day and night, enabling 128 bus lines to serve hundreds of thousands of riders, including students, seniors, and those with mobility challenges. 

The 2023 APTA Awards honors North American transit agencies that have demonstrated significant leadership, are outstanding role models of excellence, and whose accomplishments and innovations have greatly advanced public transportation.

AC Transit emerged as the standout leader in excellence, innovation, and accomplishments among U.S. transit agencies, providing an annual range of passenger trips between 15 million and fewer than 50 million.

"In the early throes of the COVID-19 pandemic, AC Transit's staff rallied to serve our most transit-dependent riders," says General Manager Michael Hursh. "Our frontline heroes confronted fear and uncertainty each day, driven by a singular purpose: finding ways to sustain the most vulnerable residents of the East Bay. Three years later, their unwavering valor now stands acknowledged on a global scale."

Each year, APTA asks public transit agencies from all corners of the United States to demonstrate measurable advancements and accomplishments within the past three years in categories including Safety, Operations, Maintenance, Accessibility, Diversity, Inclusion, and Equity, Customer Service, Financial Management, Sustainability, and Workforce Development.

However, the COVID-19 pandemic disrupted each of these traditional operations benchmarks, requiring our staff to formulate an entirely novel framework. Below are a few notable achievements that contributed to AC Transit's historic victory.

  • Right from the outset, we recognized the paramount significance of safety for our passengers. We became the first Bay Area public transit agency to provide masks and sanitizers onboard, free of charge.
  • We undertook a comprehensive airflow evaluation to gain complete insight into how the airflow inside our coaches impacted each passenger; designed and installed COVID barriers to safeguard Bus Operators; integrated MERV 13 (hospital-grade) filters across our facilities; instituted temperature checks across our worksites; and established a COVID-19 Hotline to manage employees impacted by COVID.
  • We introduced a comprehensive range of technological solutions, including a smartphone app facilitating contactless payments, real-time predictions, and a feature indicating crowding on buses. 
  • Amid COVID's peak, we introduced the groundbreaking Tempo Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) system along International Boulevard. This transformation shortened a near gridlock commute from the San Leandro Transit Center to Uptown Oakland, which previously took two hours, to a mere 50 minutes, and today is AC Transit’s highest ridership line.
  • We established a pioneering collaboration with Stanford's Precourt Institute for Energy, academically reviewing our Zero Emission Transit Bus Technology Analysis (ZETBTA) study. This initiative now stands as a global roadmap for the conversion to zero-emission transit buses.
  • In the aftermath of the pandemic, AC Transit is conducting a top-to-bottom assessment of bus services throughout our coverage area. It is called the Realign plan, a process that seeks maximum public input and will see every bus line reviewed and assessed, taking into account emerging rider travel patterns.  When complete, Realign will lay the groundwork for the evolution of our future bus network.

The 2023 Outstanding Public Transportation System award not only signifies the resilience of AC Transit but also underscores the vital role transit plays in the East Bay, facilitating community mobility, generating employment opportunities, and providing a model for innovation.