AC Transit had suspended more than a dozen of its North Oakland and Berkeley lines on Thursday — a step the agency took after more than one staffer from its Emeryville bus yard contracted COVID-19, forcing the facility's closure for deep cleaning.
That closure, expected to last until Monday, was planned. It was noticed online.
"We establish protocols that say we're taking these very advanced steps and are conducting a top-to-bottom cleaning of the facility," AC Transit spokesperson Robert Lyles said.
But the Emeryville yard's closure may have rippled out and affected service on other routes that were still supposed to run, Lyles added.
That includes the 57, NL and the line Goregaokar uses, the 51B, which is one of AC Transit's primary trunk lines. While in pre-pandemic times it serves 8,700 daily riders, on Saturday the 51B saw such infrequent service, riders equated it to a full cancellation.
The East Bay Transit Riders skewered AC Transit on Twitter and said the agency needed to do a better job of telling the riding public about service disruptions.
While the agency did eventually advise riders about its problems online, those notices fell short of what transit agencies like BART and Muni typically do to spread the word about major service problems.
Muni often sends staffers in fluorescent-yellow vests to spread the word about major service disruptions, and direct riders to other routes. They place laminated notices on poles by bus stops and feature a robust digital noticing system that includes text-message alerts.
"We did advise in our earlier e-news notices that 51B would be operating and there would be a great potential for delays," Lyles said. And he said that yes, if the agency knows there will be a route cancellation in advance, it is usual practice to place placards warning people at bus stops.
But when asked if they placed placards for the currently suspended and disrupted lines, Lyles answered "no."