A Message from Evelynn Tran, Interim VTA General Manager & General Counsel
This is a message I never thought I would have to write. The unthinkable tragedy that struck VTA on Wednesday, May 26th is devastating. The loss of nine co-workers and the impact on their families, loved ones, friends and colleagues is tragic. It will take a long time for me personally and our organization to recover at least partially. But we will never forget our colleagues and their loved ones.
VTA has endured a lot this year from the impact of COVID, a massive cyber attack and now this.
The compassion, sensitivity and strength shown by our people is inspiring. I cannot adequately express how deeply impressed and proud I am of all our VTA people. The courage they’ve shown during this tragedy is incredible.
Unlike many other organizations sadly faced with similar tragedies, VTA faces a responsibility to deliver service particularly to the transit-dependent and disabled. Despite the recent trauma and sadness, our people continued to try to meet this responsibility; after remaining on the job during a 15-month pandemic and a crippling attack on our technology systems. Our employees showed up.
Now, our primary focus is the well-being and health of our people. I have directed staff to make our people our first priority. We will marshal all the resources we can to assist our people through this. It will mean providing less service to the community than we would wish. But healing our organization must be our first priority.
For the immediate future, the light rail system is shut down. At this point, it is impossible to estimate when service can be restored. There are many factors involved in restoring service, most importantly the human factor.
I am grateful to all those fellow transit operators, companies, organizations and individuals who have reached out to us during this time. It would be impossible to mention them all at this point. I do want to particularly thank the County of Santa Clara. When I reached out to them at the beginning of the incident when there was fear, confusion and uncertainty, they immediately stepped up. They provided accommodations, public health staff and victim support and were ready to receive the VTA people evacuated from the crime scene. They continue with this support. County Sheriff’s Department, San Jose Police and Fire through their heroic actions prevented greater loss of life. I am grateful for their brave and professional response to this tragedy.
All of our union leadership, ATU, AFCSME, SEIU and TAEA, took on the awful task of consoling victims and looking after their members with support and assistance. Their leadership is inspiring.
Everyone in our VTA family is impacted by this. None more so than the immediate families of the victims. We are working with them to make sure they receive the help and support they need during this terrible time.
Together we will be planning ways to memorialize and remember our lost colleagues. They will never be forgotten.