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This is a perfect example of racist gentrification promoted by finance capital. This stop has been in existence for over 100 years during the Key System and AC Transit. It serves a multi-ethnic community, including seniors and many people accessing doctors' offices on Pill Hill. Without this stop there is no stop between 27th St and Hawthorne/Piedmont Ave - a gap of 6 city blocks. As a 34-year veteran AC Transit driver, I have never seen such a gap in an urban area. We all pay taxes for public transit service and it should not be derailed by the 1%. (Adding insult to injury, the Hawthorne St stop has been "temporarily" removed for construction. The nearest southbound stop is now at 3500 Broadway by the Mosswood Building!)
AC Transit workers realized that management and the union leadership simply deny the existence of inflation in their claims of a net wage increase. By a better than 2-1 margin ATU 192 members rejected a 9.5% "money" wage increase over three years -which, allowing for 7.5% inflation is just 2%. However when you factor in increased health premium costs of $70/mo the first year, (which equals about 1% of wages) the "raise" becomes a "real wage" loss. $140/mo second = 2% of wages, and $180/mo third = 2.4%. In wages alone we would have lost almost 4% over three years. Their were other takeaways as well. Remember, both BART and AC workers took major cuts in 2009 and 2010 while the banks and auto companies were being bailed out. I took a 15% cut in wages, benefits and work rules. No one else in the Bay Area works a 13-hour day from beginning to end. We are working harder for less and we were not the cause of the economic crises - but its victims. We refuse to be victims any longer.
Gillig is not immune to building bad buses. The old Gillig 30' (2700 series) coach was a short-wheelbase bus that had the highest rate of industrial injury to drivers of any bus in AC's fleet. It was also underpowered and prone to breakdowns. So what does AC do next? Buy another series of short-wheelbase, Mickey Mouse-designed junk (40' Van Hool - 1000 & 1100 series). Neither Greg Harper nor any other AC Board member cared about the all the complaints the seniors and the disabled had about the stupid high platform seats and the jerky ride that caused many passenger falls. The jerky ride occurs because some genius decided to connect the brake interlock with the accelerator pedal instead of the rear door. They didn't care about the driver injuries and the rear-end tail swing accidents that were always charged to the drivers. It was only when the Board found out that the Van Hools cost too much to maintain that they stopped buying them and showed Fernandez the door. Unfortunately, riders and drivers are stuck with their corrupt decisions for years to come since the feds mandate a 12-year minimum life span for "The Bus that we Fear."
As a driver who's had several back and neck injuries, I think all low-floor buses fail to have enough shock absorption to provide a safe and comfortable ride. While the 40' and 60' Van Hools are the worst, even the newer, longer wheelbase 30' and 40' low floors (Van Hool and NABI) are brutal, rough rides. You feel every little bump in the road. There is no comparison with the high floor NABI and MCI buses when it comes to comfort. Sure, the low-floor buses are easier to enter and exit for seniors and the disabled. But riding them and driving them are creating many new disabilities and much discomfort. There has to be a better way to serve all of us - but as long as profit and political gamesmanship dominate our decision making instead of the needs of riders and drivers - we may never see it.
Dave Lyons - AC Transit Driver - Oakland
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