Opinion: Ben Fong is the right candidate to get AC Transit moving

He is the only candidate with the right mix of fresh ideas and experience to make transportation reliable, efficient, and safe for today and tomorrow. 

Unprecedented times call for unprecedented action.

It’s no secret that AC Transit is struggling. Even before the pandemic, AC Transit was suffering. Now, it faces significant budget cuts, even as it remains an essential part of our economic recovery. The old way of doing things wasn’t working in the past and won’t work in the future.

We need fresh ideas from someone who is a daily transit rider passionate about public transportation and understands its complexities, from policy to implementation.

Ben Fong is the only candidate for Ward 1 with the right mix of fresh ideas and experience to make our buses reliable, efficient, and safe for today, and tomorrow. We’re excited to support his campaign.

Ben’s experience as a diplomat for the Obama administration has allowed him to see firsthand how transit systems operate in places such as India, Mexico, and the Asia-Pacific. His experience as a daily rider and longtime Berkeley Planning Commissioner gives him the on-the-ground perspective needed to understand what riders go through every day. And his experience as a transportation professional means he has the network to build the coalition of experts and riders that we’ll need to marshall the resources to help us through these unprecedented times.

Ben will protect the bus lines we depend on.

Budget cuts threaten to eliminate many lines we rely on, but Ben will fight to preserve and streamline the current system in a logical and systematic manner. At the same time, he will prioritize improving communication about both planned and unexpected changes. As a Berkeley Planning Commissioner from 2016-2019, Ben played an integral role in incentivizing public transit and building a green bike and pedestrian infrastructure across Berkeley. Ben sees transit as a key component in a broader sustainable transportation system. Reliable transit combined with safe pedestrian and bicycling infrastructure makes it easier for people to live car-free or car-light lives.

Preserving lines not only helps those of us who rely on the buses for transportation, but will also protect the jobs that AC Transit provides, reduce traffic congestion, and support our climate goals.

Safety in the time of COVID

Of the candidates running for Ward 1, only Ben has firsthand experience keeping the public safe during an epidemic. His Department of State experience coordinating the global response to the Ebola crisis in West Africa in 2014 gives him the health experience we need to make our buses safe for all.

A Transit Director from the People, for the People

As the great-grandson to immigrants in Oakland’s Chinatown, Ben has seen the inequalities that divide the region. He understands that it needs to be more connected and that transit is a great equalizer that ensures everyone can get to where they need to go, reliably, safely, and on time. The motto of Ben’s campaign is “when we ride together, we rise together.” That philosophy is reflected in the 30+ endorsements from our community, including the Berkeley Democratic Club, Albany Democratic Club, Contra Costa Young Dems, Senator Scott Wiener, and countless other community leaders. They know he will ensure that AC Transit is talking with all of our community—workers, immigrants, folks with disabilities, and the elderly—so that all voices are heard.

Ben Fong will fight for you, for our bus system, and for our community. We ask for your vote for Ben Fong this November.

Rigel Robinson is a Berkeley City Councilmember. Gabe Quinto is an El Cerrito City Councilmember. Sofia Zander is a Berkeley Transportation commissioner, writing as a private citizen. Ben Gerhardstein is the co-founder of Walk Bike Berkeley.