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AC Transit shows off information centers

By Kenyatte Davis Daily Planet staff
Wednesday June 20, 2001

AC Transit, along with Berkeley officials held an unveiling ceremony Tuesday for the new informational displays to be installed at major bus stops throughout Berkeley. 

The new postings contain information on the schedules and routes for buses that stop at the ten stops that received the add-on Tuesday, along with fare information and general transit information written in English, Spanish and Chinese. 

The 10 a.m. event was led by AC Transit Director of Marketing and Communications Jaimie Levin, and included short speeches by Mayor Shirley Dean, AC Transit Director Joe Wallace and City Council member and former member of the AC Transit Board of Directors, Miriam Hawley. 

“This is a big step forward for AC Transit’s program to improve information at the point of travel,” said Levin. “This program will work not only for the regular riders, but most importantly for intending riders. We think this is going to be very well-accepted by our riders and the public in general.”  

Dean was ecstatic about the program. “This is wonderful. I can’t tell you how much these little things can really help change people’s habits,” she said. “The change is going to be very encouraging.” 

City officials received funding from Panoramic Interests, a local property development firm, to launch the program. Each of the displays will reportedly cost about $400 to install and maintain. 

“The displays are made to be durable and we have to buy spare parts,” said Levin. “Our responsibility is not to just put this up and leave it, but to maintain it. We expect to get a significant increase in funding from UC Berkeley’s Class Pass program.” 

Class Pass is an AC Transit program that allows UC Berkeley students unlimited rides on all AC Transit buses and many university shuttles free of charge for a semester. All pay $18 per semester for the pass, but not everyone opts to use it. 

The ceremony was held on the corner of University Avenue and Grant Street across from a property owned by Panoramic Interests’ Patrick Kennedy who was scheduled to participate in the ceremony, but was unable to make it. 

Chris Hudson, a representative from Panoramic Interests, was able to speak at the ceremony, however. “We think that this is a critical part of what we try to do here in Berkeley,” he said. “We want to make sue that the people have quality public transportation as a real alternative to having everyone drive everywhere. We’re happy to be able to help.” 

After the ceremony an AC Transit maintenance crew went out to install additional info holders along University Avenue. 

Many riders are pleased to see the changes, but still hope to see more done. “I’m happy that they’re doing this,” said Bus Riders’ Union member Charlie Betcher, “Hopefully the service will be more reliable.” 

“I don’t like them, they don’t have the right information,” said Raul Skolnick, while waiting for a bus at a stop with one of the new postings. “They’ve got potential though, it’s a good idea. It has to be accurate and it has to be useful information.” 

“I think it’s terrific that it’s written in more than one language,” said another rider. “It’s a big improvement on asking the bus driver where the bus goes, but it could be better.”