Former bus operator for AC Transit Dollene Jones is running for an at-large seat on the AC Transit Board of Directors.
Jones, who has been with AC Transit for 21 years, seeks to secure funding for personal protective equipment, including masks, hand sanitizer and gloves, for employees, as well as prevent bus fares and service cuts from increasing. Jones also supports transitioning to hybrid electric buses and improving the district’s communication system.
“I want the bus service to reflect the needs of the people,” Jones said. “If I’m elected, I’m going after the funding that AC Transit is going to need. Everybody’s books are a question mark because they don’t know how much (COVID-19 federal stimulus) money is coming down the pipe.”
Jones began working for AC Transit in June 1989 after moving to California from New Jersey, where she worked as a bus cleaner. Three months later, the Loma Prieta earthquake occurred.
According to Jones, she was driving a bus full of people when the earthquake struck, and although AC Transit did not lose any employees or riders that day, the district’s communication systems could use some improvement.
“That was a lucky day. What happens when it’s a bad day?” Jones said. “AC Transit should have, since we do live in such an earthquake-prone area, a system with two-way communication on all equipment they own, not just managers talking to (bus drivers) one-way.”
Jones added that in 2010, AC Transit was forced to cut some bus services and raise fares after shutting down one of its bus yards. Jones said she wants to make sure nothing like that happens again, especially to college students.
After driving buses in Berkeley and at St. Mary’s College, Jones said she found that some students were having trouble feeding themselves and were therefore struggling to afford the increasing bus rates.
“What kind of society do we live in, where we tell people higher education is the way to go when they can’t even eat to study?” Jones said.
According to Jones, she has been campaigning by posting signs along bus routes and talking to public transportation users, while also looking to see if buses are running on schedule. She added that she has been gaining votes since she started running for the AC Transit Board of Directors in 2012 and people now know that “this is my lane.”
After decades of working for AC Transit and almost 10 years of running for the board of directors, Jones said she is confident she will win a seat. Jones added that she would be the first former employee at AC Transit to join the board.
“I’m not the candidate trying to get my name out there anymore,” Jones said. “Most people already think I’m on the board. Why burst their bubble? I just want to thank everyone for their continued support. This win’s for you.”