AC Transit’s ‘internal error’ causes long waits at Bancroft Way bus stop

Leslie Yang/Staff

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Students and UC Village residents frustrated with what they viewed as abnormally long wait times and overcrowded buses found they were justified in their complaints when AC Transit admitted Friday that the agency had accidentally moved the rest stop for the 52 bus route.

The 52 route’s extended rest stop, which AC Transit calls a “layover,” was originally intended for Monroe Street near its intersection with San Pablo Avenue. In late August, however, an indeterminate “internal error” resulted in the current layover at Bancroft Way and Telegraph Avenue, according to AC Transit spokesperson Robert Lyles.

“There’s no particular error. There’s a map that they look at, and they just placed (the layover) at the wrong location,” Lyles said. “There was nothing nefarious, it was a simple mistake.”

The 52 bus must now wait for up to 15 minutes at the busy bus stop by Eshleman Hall. Lyles said the change was unrelated to AC Go, the recent overhaul of AC Transit routes throughout the Bay Area launched in June, the largest in AC Transit history.

Monroe Street is a quiet road connecting the University Village complex to San Pablo Avenue, while Bancroft Way sees heavy use from students and traffic heading to downtown Berkeley.

The error cannot be immediately corrected because of AC Transit’s process for allotting bus routes to drivers. Four times a year, AC Transit has “sign-up” periods, where bus drivers throughout the AC Transit system may choose routes based on seniority.

Because this schedule is fixed until the next sign-up period, AC Transit cannot alter the 52 route’s layover until December. AC Transit did not discover the misplaced layover until a road supervisor detected it after the bus routes were already finalized.

AC Transit will move the stop on the 6 bus route to load and unload riders at Bancroft Way and Dana Street “so there’s no delay to riders,” Lyles said.

Lyles said that he had not heard of any complaints from riders, however, some students at the 52 bus stop near Eshleman Hall on Friday said they were not pleased by the layover.

“It’s way more inconvenient,” UC Berkeley graduate student Jason Rodriguez said about the new layover. “I noticed it right away.”

Victoria Boutros, a recent campus transfer student, said that the change was a “little inconvenient,” but in light of the fact that UC Berkeley students pay for a semester of AC Transit bus rides through a student fee, rather than each time they board, lessened the annoyance. One hiccup, she said, was that the new departure time hadn’t immediately synced to the mobile bus app she uses, so she had arrived at the bus stop 15 minutes early.

AC Transit anticipates fixing the layover problem ahead of the December holidays, when the timetables will change slightly, according to Lyles.

Contact Anna Sturla at [email protected].

A previous version of this article included a statement that UC Berkeley students ride AC Transit buses for free. In fact, students pay a semesterly fee as part of their tuition to ride AC Transit buses.