East Bay bus agency AC Transit doesn’t have the ridership or wide-reaching reputation of BART or San Francisco’s Muni. But about 100,000 people take an AC Transit bus every day-- and those riders are disproportionately lower-income, elderly, and less likely to own a car.
Over the past few years, the AC Transit has seen deep service cuts and major fare increases. At two dollars and ten cents, it’s the Bay Area’s most expensive most expensive local bus ride.
Around 5pm on a cold, windy Tuesday, an eclectic mix of people stand in a long line at Civic Center’s UN Plaza in San Francisco, waiting patiently. Some have big travel backpacks, a couple have tough-looking dogs, and a few are dressed like they just came from work. Suddenly a bright orange and yellow minivan arrives at the plaza. A team of volunteers wearing orange aprons emerge and quickly set up tents, tables, and giant, metal vats of steaming food. The food smells of ginger and garlic.