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VTA's New Fare Policy

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The VTA Board of Directors adopted VTA’s Fare Policy on June 1 and approved the recommended fare structure changes.

The newly adopted fare structure includes the following changes:

  • A base fare increase
  • Increased discounts on Youth fares
  • Free VTA-to-VTA transfers on Clipper only
  • Removal of the Community Bus fare category
  • Restructuring of VTA’s Eco Pass Program
  • Continuation of the Transit Assistance Program for low-income adults
VTA has not had a fare increase since 2009.

Starting January 1, 2018, the Adult base fare will be raised by $0.25 and will increase by the same amount in January 2019.

Below is a table of adopted fare changes:

Table showing VTA Fares approved June 1, 2017
Download an accessible PDF of the fare table.

Free VTA-to-VTA Transfers on Clipper Only

Under the new policy, Single Ride fares on Clipper will be valid for up to two hours system wide to allow for free transfers on the VTA system during that time frame. Free transfers will be limited to those individuals using a Clipper card to ensure payment has been made for the initial ride.

Discounted Fares for Low Income Riders Continues

In August 2013, at the request of People Acting in Community Together (PACT), the VTA Board approved the Transit Assistance Program (TAP) pilot project to increase ridership by providing a discounted fare for low income adults not receiving other forms of transportation support. VTA received a $1.3 million grant from MTC to support this project.

These grants will most likely not be available in the future. However, because the Transit Assistance Program provides a very important lifeline to adults with low incomes, the newly adopted fare policy will continue this program using 2016 Measure B funds of up to $1 million per year. This enables low-income riders to continue using transit for work, health care, and other basic needs.

Eco Pass becomes VTA’s Smart Pass Program

The Eco Pass Program allows employers, residential communities and colleges to purchase annual VTA transit passes at a deeply discounted rate for all their employees, residents or students.

The program’s pricing structure has not been modified since the 1990s, contributing to concerns about equity between low and moderate income groups, compared to the fare cost for employees through their employer. Also, the multi-tiered pricing system needed refinement.

As a result, the Board approved fare policy includes renaming the program to VTA’s Smart Pass Program and consolidation of its pricing system to two tiers that comprises of three logical pass categories: Collegiate, Not-for-Profit, and Corporate.

Collegiate Pass

A price increase of 5% shall be applied in January 2018 and again in January 2019 for students enrolled at San Jose State University (SJSU), Santa Clara University and Stanford University. The fare per student enrolled at any California Community College will be raised to $20 per enrolled student/faculty per year.

Not-for-Profit Pass

Fares for participants from public agencies such as the county, cities, nonprofit agencies and low-income housing will increase by 15% rounded to the nearest quarter effective January 1, 2019.

Corporate Pass

Fares for participants from business and residential units will increase by 25% rounded to the nearest quarter effective January 1, 2019.

Express Pass Option

VTA’s Smart Pass Program will not be valid on VTA’s express bus services. Institutions may choose to purchase this service for all their participants under the Express Smart Pass option. This option will also include access to the Dumbarton Bridge Express, Highway 17 Express and Monterey –Salinas Transit Express operators.

Pricing for all options are shown below:
Table showing new VTA Eco Pass restructuring approved June 1, 2017

Download an accessible PDF of the Smart Pass annual rates.

Community Bus Fares are Obsolete

Under VTA’s Transit Service Redesign Plan, the “community bus” will no longer be included as a service category. VTA had established a lower fare for community bus routes at inception for two basic reasons:
  1. The routes were serviced by cut away vehicles which were significantly cheaper to acquire and operate
  2. Bus Operators assigned to community bus routes were paid less than Bus Operators assigned to regular routes.
These cost differentials, which were the basis of the reduced community bus fares, no longer exist as VTA operates diesel hybrid transit buses on community bus routes and Bus Operators are paid the same wages regardless of the route they operate.

VTA’s Fare Policy will be effective on January 1, 2018. Please visit VTA.org for updated information or contact VTA Customer Service at (408) 321-2300.

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