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Public Feedback on VTA’s Transit Service Redesign Draft Plan: What We’ve Learned So Far

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VTA is more than halfway through a series of scheduled community meetings and webinars focused on receiving public input on the Transit Service Redesign Draft Plan. To date, we have held public meetings in Campbell, Cupertino, Milpitas, Palo Alto and San Jose as well as webinars focused on South County, West Valley and South San Jose.

More meetings and webinars are scheduled up until the comment deadline on February 20. We have received over 1,000 comments from Santa Clara County residents and travelers about how we can improve upon draft plan. Many of these follow common themes that we would like to share.

The goals of increasing ridership, improving VTA’s cost-effectiveness and connecting to and integrating with BART have generally been well-received. There has also been widespread support for increasing the number of routes that have frequent (15-minute or better all-day) service and expanding the number of rapid routes. Many have found VTA’s falling ridership and low farebox recovery rate as compelling reasons for VTA to make a change. The Draft Plan includes expanding access to the frequent network for 160,000 residents and 150,000 jobs.  We have also heard supportive comments for the proposed light rail system changes, Route 60 San Jose Airport connection and evaluation of free transfers.

On the other hand, the strategy to achieve ridership gains by reallocating service from low-ridership, coverage-purposed routes has not been well received by riders of those routes. We are hearing many comments that service reductions may be too much in the following areas:

Almaden Valley

VTA currently operates four transit routes in Almaden Valley. Route 13 and Route 63 offer all-day service and Routes 328 and 330 operate morning and evening peak periods. Routes 13, 328 and 330 are proposed to be discontinued in the Draft Plan, and Route 63 is proposed to not travel south of Blossom Hill. Based on public feedback we are looking at alternatives for maintaining service in Almaden Valley. Possible options include keeping Route 13, extending Route 63 or 64 south of Blossom Hill or developing a special school-oriented service for Leland High School and Bret Harte Middle School. These will be discussed at VTA’s community meeting on February 16 at the Southside Community Center at 5585 Cottle Road from 6:00 to 8:00 PM.

Route 65 (South San Jose to Downtown San Jose via Leigh and Camden)

We’ve heard from many riders who rely on Route 65 who would face long walks to Routes 61 or 63 if route 65 is discontinued as proposed in the Draft Plan. The challenge facing Route 65 is that the land uses in this corridor are largely low-density and residential which means potential riders are spread over a wide area. The choice that VTA faces is to operate multiple parallel routes (61, 65 and 63) that experience low ridership or fewer routes that might attract higher ridership, but would require longer average walks to access.  We would like to learn more about the specific travel patterns of Route 65 riders and will be discussing this corridor in depth at the February 16 public meeting.

Route 37 (West Valley College to Capitol Light Rail Station)

Route 37 currently operates at 60-minute frequency along Allendale, Pollard, Hacienda, Camden and Hillsdale. The route has low ridership compared to other VTA routes, but it serves an important east-west connection between West Valley and South San Jose. We have heard from many Route 37 riders that they appreciate the service—infrequent as it may be—as the alternatives for traveling east-west by transit in these areas without Route 37 are indirect or would leave some without access. We would like to better understand the travel patterns and trip origins and destinations for Route 37 riders as we design a final plan.

Route 88 (Gunn High School to North Palo Alto)

VTA currently operates all-day service at 60-minute frequency on Route 88 with additional trips scheduled around Gunn High School bell times designed to accommodate spikes in demand from students. These school bell-timed trips are well-utilized and are a market that VTA wants to serve. However, at other times of the day, ridership is low and VTA has proposed reallocating those service hours to parts of our network where demand is higher. We are working with the City of Palo Alto and Gunn High School to see how we can best balance serving Gunn High School with the goals of increasing ridership systemwide.

The last time VTA redesigned its transit system from scratch, we made about 50 changes between the release of the Draft Plan and adoption of the Final Plan. These changes were entirely based on feedback we heard from the public. VTA will utilize the input to develop the best new plan feasible that meets the primary goals of the service redesign.

 

“We believe the community continues to be our best resource for valuable feedback-- the series of meetings and webinars throughout the county are designed to collect public recommendations that will help reshape the final transit plan and effectively enhance it to be better,” says VTA Board Chair Jeannie Bruins.

There’s Still Time to Submit Comments!

We want to hear from you and learn about your recommendations on how best to improve VTA’s Transit Service Redesign Draft Plan. It is crucial that you provide your input by February 20, 2017. After that date, VTA planning staff will be adjusting the draft plan to incorporate the public input and propose a final plan to VTA’s Board of Directors in April.
Everyone is encouraged to engage with us through social media or join us at the following scheduled public meetings and webinars:
  • Monday, February 6 at 6pm, Adobe Building, 157 Moffett Blvd., Mountain View
  • Monday, February 13 at 6pm, Alum Rock Branch Library, 3090 Alum Rock Ave., San Jose
  • Wednesday, February 15 at 6pm, Gilroy Library, 350 W. Sixth St., Gilroy
  • Thursday, February 16 at 6pm, Southside Community and Senior Center, 5585 Cottle Rd., San Jose
Webinars: Tuesday, February, 7 from 2-3pm (focused on Palo Alto) and Wednesday, February 15 from 12-1pm (focus on Milpitas and Fremont).
You can also email your comments to community.outreach@vta.org. For additional details to VTA’s Transit Service Redesign Draft Plan, please visit NextNetwork.vta.org.

 

 

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