So Why Is AC Transit So Awesome?

Between their service cutbacks, perpetual lateness, shameless venting on twitter, colliding with pedestrians, and providing free showers to residents on Fillmore St., it’s clear that MUNI is in the middle of an epic downward spiral of fail. Why? State budget cuts, they say.

But waitaminute… I can think of this other city that also happens to be in this state: Oakland. You know, that place you never go to in the “Eastern Bay”?

Ooh, shiny! This picture is from my phone, not an AC Transit informative brochure.

I work in Downtown Oakland every day and I sometimes use AC Transit. During a recent ride, it occurred to me that there are some really amazing things about it:

  1. I’ve never had to wait longer than 10 minutes for a bus. The “walk or ride” calculation never becomes a factor.
  2. Buses are modern and clean. Seriously, look at the picture. It looks like interior of an airport shuttle.
  3. The realtime Nextbus predictions are actually accurate and seem to be able to distinguish between buses going in the opposite direction.
  4. No one sneaks in the back door of the bus or flashes a dubious expired transfer. Everyone walks in through the front and pays their fare.
  5. There’s this awesome concept of “Rapid” lines. Example: the 72 stops wherever you want, but the 72R will only stop at major intersections, often shaving off 10-20 minutes of travel time. Does the 49 really need to stop every block on Mission St? A 49R that stops at Van Ness, 16th, 24th, then Valencia would change my life.
  6. As far as I know, no one has ever had to defend her seat with karate on AC Transit (less tempers, less crazies).

So why doesn’t AC Transit suck? I’m sure there are a lot more factors here, but their annual operating budget is $320 million, while the SFMTA is a whopping $808 million.

Damn, maybe I just need to get my bike fixed already and stop thinking about MUNI.