This month's election results appear to have had a strong influence on the AC Transit board of directors. The board has reversed itself and decided to vote to buy more of the controversial Van Hool buses. The board voted last week 5-1-1 to purchase nine new 60-foot accordion-style buses. The panel also voted unanimously to order a prototype for a new 45-foot suburban-style bus to be used for transbay trips, according to the Berkeley Daily Planet. The vote marked a stark turnaround for the board after its 4-2-1 vote in May to not purchase nineteen new 60-footers made by Van Hool unless the deal was put out to bid. It was not.
Board President Chris Peeples told the Contra Costa Times that the board viewed the election results as an endorsement of the agency's past Van Hool bus purchases. Peeples, a leading supporter of the Van Hools, trounced his challenger Joyce Roy, a leading critic of the Belgian-made buses, in the November election. In addition, voters approved Measure VV, a parcel tax that benefits AC Transit and voted down Measure KK, which would have given Berkeley residents the final word on the agency's contoversial Bus Rapid Transit plan. Both the VV and KK campaigns were financed chiefly by Van Hools' American distributor. Express readers may remember that we predicted that if Peeples was reelected, the board might view it as a reason to reverse its May vote.