The community east of Oxford Street and south of Cedar Street, commonly known as Northside, is the most populated area of North Berkeley, yet some residents expressed that its public transportation is inadequate.
According to AC Transit spokesperson Robert Lyles, the northern Berkeley service area is bounded by Cedar Street, La Loma Avenue, Hearst Avenue and Shattuck Avenue. Within these boundaries, AC Transit offers Line 7 and Line 18 on Shattuck Avenue, Line 67 on Euclid Avenue and Lines 52, 65 and F along Hearst Avenue. In addition to AC Transit, Bear Transit operates the C, P and R lines along Hearst Avenue.
“The combination of these lines means that northern Berkeley is one of the more densely-served parts of the AC Transit service area,” Lyles said in an email.
But according to Darrell Owens, an activist at East Bay Transit Riders Union, Northside still has “weak bus service” compared to the rest of Berkeley.
Owens cited Line 52 as an example of Northside’s inadequate transportation. Owens alleged people living on Cedar Street are essentially unserved, though it is within the boundaries of receiving public transportation.
“The 52 is (Northside’s) most frequent line but it runs along the campus,” Owens said in an email. “The neighborhood lacks a route from Cedar to help connect it with grocery stores, thereby necessitating car ownership in the district.”
Owens also said the last time Cedar had bus service was in the 2000s, when Line 52 ran up Cedar Street in its entirety. However, this was terminated by property owners complaining of noise, according to Owens.
Since then, North Berkeley has severely reduced transit services from commercial areas to residential areas, particularly hurting the Northside neighborhood, Owens noted.
“Without a east-west North Berkeley line, Northside remains a heavily car centric neighborhood thanks to its relative density and its poor transit coverage,” Owens said in the email.
Bus service restoration is more than a convenience, Owens added, because it is also necessary for Berkeley to abide with its climate goals.
UC Berkeley students living in Northside have also expressed their concerns about Northside’s public transportation, citing unreliability and sparse service.
“I definitely wish there was more public transit options for us to get around, like extending the 67 to Hearst and Euclid, especially at night,” said campus sophomore Zoya Yan in an Instagram direct message. “I would also really like to see more frequent bus options between Northside and downtown locations like Trader Joe’s and the BART station.”
While Lyles acknowledged the many residents advocating for the restoration and expansion of bus lines, he stressed that AC Transit faces obstacles that hinder its ability to meet resident demands.
For example, AC Transit temporarily suspended Lines 7, 65 and 67 at the start of shelter-in-place orders. Although public health mandates have been lifted, according to Lyles, restoration of service is still impeded by reduced ridership, dwindling emergency funding and an operator shortage.
“While we work around the clock, the communities we serve must understand the exceptional financial and operational limitations facing our transit district,” Lyles said in the email.
Andrew Green contributed to this report.