Community Voices: Emeryville Seniors Speak Out Against AC Transit’s Planned Fare Increases

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Emeryville Seniors are speaking out against a proposed AC Transit fare increase. The increases were presented at the February 13th AC Transit Board Public Hearing. The transit agency just recently increases the cost of its Transbay service by $1 with plans to increase it another $1 over the next three years.

Amid the Bay Area’s surging cost of living, fixed-income seniors are being hit particularly hard and Social Security increases don’t generally keep up with these increases. Emeryville Commission on Aging Chairperson Mary Eileen Farrell and fellow member Celeste Burrows have both written personal letters to the agency asking them to reconsider. Burrows is also on the Bike/Ped Advisory Committee (BPAC).

A decision on the proposals could occur as earlier as today’s AC Transit Board of Directors meeting. If approved, the first fare increase in the new local fare schedule will take effect on July 1, 2019. Full details of the planned increase can be read on actransit.org.

Dear AC Transit Board,

My name is Mary Eileen Farrell. I am the Chairman of the Emeryville Commission on Aging. I am writing as a resident of Emeryville rather than representing our Commission, because the topic of your rate increase was not on our agenda for action.

Only one of our members knew of your proposed change and she mentioned it during a report on other transportation issues.

We were all very concerned about the extreme ticket increases proposed to start in 2019 and continue rising in the following years.

Certainly you must be aware that many seniors are on fixed incomes, which do not increase or increase at such a slow rate such that the increase does not cover the Cost of Living rises.

Surely you are aware of the increasing rate of seniors being forced out of their homes due to rent rises. More and more are ending up homeless.

Usually the poorest seniors are the ones who use the services AC Transit.


In the past years the AC Transit raised rates from $20 to $30.

The current proposed rises are an unconscionable burden to our society’s most vulnerable demographic.

We understand that AC Transit must make changes in infrastructure, yet we citizens of
Emeryville urge you not to increase fares to our many senior citizens who might no longer be able to get around to stores, doctors, hospitals, entertainment and friends’s homes. It is vital that our seniors stay engaged in life to stay alive. Seniors who use AC Transit may not have access to other forms of transportation.

Please eliminate any other increases in fares for our area seniors.


— Mary Eileen Farrell



Dear AC Transit,

I am a member of Emeryville’s Commission on Aging as well as of its Bicycle/Pedestrian Advisory Committee. Good transit is very important for both of their missions.

Unfortunately I only just learned about your fare increase proposal and your request that our comments be sent by today. I would have certainly attended your public meetings had I known, so I wish it could have been better publicized (in ways I would have learned about it.)

I like to ride the bus for transportation and definitely support all your efforts to make bus transit work better and better for our population and also to make it become a serious alternative to driving. Currently, people who have cars drive while those who can’t afford driving, or can’t drive, are “forced” to take the bus.

I especially support bus passes since once a person has one, they are very likely to use it to save money, in place of driving, as then the bus appears to be “free”.

So last year I was horrified when the cost of the senior bus pass increased by 50%!! Those seniors who ride the bus often enough to purchase a pass are likely to be the lowest income segment of our population, and to have fixed incomes as well. The bus is likely their only means of transportation and should be kept as affordable as possible. Why would you ask them to shoulder the burden of your revenue needs? Their income did not increasing by 50%! Bus fare increases may put transit out of reach for them or may force them to scrimp on food or medications to pay for their pass. Please consider the effects of what you are doing.

Now Emeryville, Oakland, and Berkeley (as well as San Francisco and many cities across the country) have signed on to the WHO and AARP initiative to become Age-Friendly. The ability of seniors to get out of their homes and engage in the community as well as to shop for healthy groceries, is a very high priority for this initiative. I hope that AC Transit will learn about this initiative and will do their part in supporting good transit for seniors.

Please, please, please remember how low income senior bus riders are in general, and especially senior bus pass holders. Please remember that, unlike some younger residents, these seniors are also fixed income. Please do not continue to raise the price for senior/disabled bus passes.

I really do support AC Transit, and have been following and supporting a number of new developments including the 40th St (in Emeryville) bus only lanes and the San Pablo Ave proposed bus only lanes. If I can help in any other ways please let me know.

And please do not raise the price of the senior/disabled bus pass.

Thank you,

– Celeste Burrows

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