The AC Transit Board of Directors last night scheduled hearings in May for a plan to raise fares to make up for a budget shortfall, according to the Oakland Tribune. The board appeared to favor a plan that would raise the basic fare from $1.75 to $2.00, but eliminate the 25-cent transfer fee. If approved, the fare increase would make AC Transit the most expensive local bus service in the Bay Area. About 75 people showed up at the board meeting to oppose the planned fare increase, which agency officials said is needed to offset rising fuel and healthcare costs, the Trib reported. The agency also has come under criticism in recent months following a series of articles in the Express that detailed the agency's controversial buying spree of expensive Belgian buses, costly junkets to Europe, and a $400,000 secret loan to AC Transit General Manager Rick Fernandez.