AC Transit Board of Directors President Joe Wallace is running for reelection for his fourth term with hopes of bolstering public opinion of local transit.
Wallace, who served as board president in 2004, 2005 and 2019, has also represented the cities of San Pablo, Richmond, Albany and El Cerrito along with a part of Berkeley as a board member since 2000. He added that being public transit-dependent has helped him relate to the needs of many of his constituents who also rely on bus and rail systems to get to work.
“Not everyone has a personal car that they can use to drive,” Wallace said. “As someone who relies on the bus system to get around the city and make it to work, I see a lot of the positive and negative things that people point out in action and I strive to reflect their needs in the actions of the board.”
Wallace added that one of his proudest accomplishments during his previous tenure as board president was the creation of the 72R and 376 bus lines. The main goal of the 376 line, which runs from 8 p.m. to 3 a.m., is to ensure low-income individuals have a reliable way to make it to work regardless of the time of day.
The 72R line is one of Alameda County’s rapid bus lines and runs from 6 a.m. to 8 p.m. The critical element of this bus route, according to Wallace, is how quickly it is able to get residents to and from jobs across the East Bay.
“I want to represent the people who don’t have the time to represent themselves, the people who need to take the bus for their livelihood,” Wallace said.
One key focus for AC Transit is the commitment to the Innovative Clean Transit regulation, which requires all buses to use zero-emission technology by 2040, according to Wallace. He added that the role of board president would be vital in not only leading but also enforcing the efforts to implement the regulation.
Along with improving the sustainability of public transportation, Wallace hopes to bolster AC Transit to the point that residents consider it a viable alternative to rail systems. According to Wallace, the importance of bus lines was highlighted when they proved to be more reliable in 2019 after technology issues caused BART to temporarily shut down.
“I’ve lobbied across the Bay and across the country to get more funding for AC Transit, but people don’t always listen because some people put the rail system above buses,” Wallace said. “I really hope to counter that by bolstering our network and really showing how essential local transit is.”