A Midwestern company that is the exclusive US distributor of Belgian buses is the main backer of two AC Transit ballot measures in this election. Public records show that ABC Companies of Faribault, Minnesota, the distributor of Van Hool buses of Belgium, is the main financial supporter of the campaign for Measure VV, a parcel tax in Alameda and Contra Costa counties that would benefit AC Transit. ABC Companies also is the primary financier of the campaign against Measure KK, a Berkeley measure that could kill AC Transit's controversial Bus Rapid Transit plan.
Records show that ABC Companies has pumped $250,000 into the "yes" on Measure VV campaign, known as the "Committee to Safeguard AC Transit." In turn, that same committee donated $20,000 to the "no" on Measure KK campaign, which is known as the "Coalition for Effective Government." Both Van Hool and ABC Companies stand to profit if Measure VV passes, because it would allow the financially troubled AC Transit to buy more buses. AC Transit has come under fire over the past year for its exclusive deal to buy Van Hool buses, which records and interviews show are dangerous for drivers and riders with mobility problems. In addition, the financially strapped public agency plans to use Van Hool buses for its Bus Rapid Transit system (for more, see this week's Full Disclosure web exclusive, "The Out-of-town Connection").