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AC Transit Realign

AC Transit Realign

Draft Final Service Plan Proposal Postponed for Additional Review

AC Transit appreciates your written contributions, submissions by phone, and in-person feedback during the first three phases of Realign. The Board of Directors recently voted to postpone any changes to the bus network, which now allows for more engagement with our riders and East Bay communities.

Our goal continues to be delivering a future bus network through Realign’s principles of Reliability, Frequency, and Equity. We will broadly notify our riders and communities of dates for new Realign outreach and any advancements to the Draft Final Service Plan.

Realign Unconstrained

Unconstrained Vision Scenario

With direction from the AC Transit Board of Directors, an unconstrained vision as presented during Phase 3 will be moved forward on a longer timeframe than the immediate service changes. This extended time will give the project team more time to solicit public feedback and refine proposals for the Board to consider and approve by the end of 2024. These recommendations will follow a separate public hearing process from the planned August 2024 changes. 

Service Standards

In late spring and summer of 2024, the Realign project team will update AC Transit’s service standards. This effort will take all public input received over the course of the project and combine it with the latest planning practices to draft a blueprint for how the agency will plan service and measure its performance now and into the future. 

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Meetings & Events

Realign meetings and events have been postponed at this time. Check back later for more information.

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Additional Resources

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What is Realign?

AC Transit is reviewing how bus service works across our service area through the Realign plan. AC Transit Realign is an inclusive planning process that evaluates our existing service network and responds to changing travel patterns. This quantitative and qualitative assessment of AC Transit’s bus lines will gather both data and the rider feedback to develop a new network focused on riders and equity. Your feedback will tell us how well our service is currently operating, meeting your travel needs, and ultimately how to realign our service. The Realign process will also require analyzing post-pandemic revenue losses, funding shortfalls, and Bus Operator workforce challenges to right-size our operations.  

AC Transit Realign also permits our transit district to overhaul service policies and standards, aligning our guidelines with current transit conditions and industry best practices. In doing so, we reaffirm our decades-long commitment to equity and better position the future of how we deliver bus service.  

Goals

  • Assess today’s travel patterns and the community’s current AC Transit service needs.  
  • Implement an inclusive planning process that incorporates quantitative and qualitative data along with rider and community feedback – including the voices of hard-to-reach equity communities. 
  • Align service schedules, coverage, and frequencies based on major needs identified by the community, riders, travel pattern data, finances, and workforce availability. 
  • Update our service standards with best practices for the design of our bus service. 

FY 2023-24 Revenue Budget pie chart

Why Realign?

We are updating our service to meet the travel patterns of the new normal. The pandemic led to a historic decline in riders, which resulted in unprecedented fare loss. AC Transit sought and received federal relief funds to keep bus lines moving. After three years, however, ridership has not returned to pre-pandemic levels and relief funds will soon be exhausted. As of March 2023, AC Transit’s overall ridership is 69% of pre-pandemic levels. As Bay Area employers continue to operate remote and hybrid work schedules, we forecast that our ridership and fare recovery will continue to be adversely affected. To save East Bay transit, we must now assess the needs of current riders and travel patterns with new focus on where, when, and how we deliver bus service. 

AC Transit is facing what’s being called a “fiscal cliff” or budget shortfall. Why? The onboard fareboxes capture a small percentage of the dollars needed to operate our transit district. And as the graph below highlights, we rely on a variety of public funding subsidies to support operations. As a result, without a substantial increase in fare revenues and subsidies (regional, state, and federal), AC Transit may be forced to consider service cuts. 

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Phases & Timeline*

*Timeline is preliminary and subject to change

Phase 1 - Develop Plans and Learn Rider Needs

Dates: March - June 2023

Realign begins with a thorough analysis of current AC Transit service area conditions. The habits, needs, concerns, and priorities of riders and community members will be identified during this phase through quantitative data review, customer survey responses, and feedback through robust outreach. This phase encourages survey participation, which begins April 17, 2023. The survey will help us understand what’s important, identify priority destinations/connections, and weigh trade-offs/priorities that will inform the development of a draft set of guiding principles.

Phase 2 - Aligning Guiding Principles with Community Assessment

Dates: July - August 2023

This phase will solicit and incorporate feedback from riders, community members and AC Transit’s Board of Directors on the draft guiding principles developed from information gathered in Phase 1. In this phase, a final Guiding Principles document will be adopted by the Board and will establish the support, clarity, and direction for the development of Realign (new bus service network plan).

Phase 3 - Develop Service Scenarios and Gather Feedback

Dates: September - December 2023

Based on the feedback and direction from the first two phases, this phase presents draft service scenarios that offer alternative configurations of AC Transit’s routes and schedules throughout our service area. This is an important opportunity for our riders and community to provide feedback on these service scenarios. 

Phase 4 - Draft Final Service Plan and Plan Adoption

Dates: January - April 2024

Following the comprehensive review of data and community input on the draft scenarios, a draft Final Service Plan will be created, including an extensive update to AC Transit’s Service Standards. The draft Final Service Plan will be shared with the community during a formal public comment process. The Realign process will culminate with review and a formal vote by the AC Transit Board of Directors. An Equity Analysis (under Title VI of the American Civil Rights Act) will ensure that any negative impacts on both minority and low-income populations will be identified and presented for approval on a parallel track.

Phase 5 - Develop Service Standards and Inform Riders about Service Changes

Dates: April - September 2024

Once the Final Service Plan and updated Service Standards are approved, the new service is expected to begin in August 2024. In this final phase, robust promotion will educate riders and community members on how to use the new service network. The updated service policies and standards will help guide future planning and monitoring of AC Transit’s service network. These standards, including hours, days of operation, frequency, and location of bus routes, will guide how service we will operate on the streets and in neighborhoods throughout the AC Transit service area. The standards are based upon multiple factors, including equity, land use, population density, access to jobs, commercial activity, and major attractors such as schools, hospitals, and grocery stores.

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Community Project Line: 
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