Among the 70 changes in VTA’s Draft 2019 New Transit Service Plan is a proposal to end late night service on Route 22 between 1 a.m. and 4 a.m. The draft 2019 New Transit Service Plan is VTA staff’s proposal for how to implement the Board’s recent direction to:
- keep bus and light rail services at levels comparable to present service levels;
- increase ridership; and
- minimize service reductions affecting residents in South Santa Clara County.
Route 22 is the only route that VTA operates between 1 a.m. and 4 a.m. For some riders, Route 22 provides transportation to and from work. There are also an estimated 40-45 individuals that ride the bus nightly for shelter.
We understand the homeless crisis that is plaguing Silicon Valley. In fact, we are meeting with safety net providers and social services agency this month to discuss what impact this proposed change could have on those who ride our service overnight who do not have a permanent housing solution.
At the same time, VTA is facing a structural deficit when it comes to providing critical transportation in Santa Clara County. Staff has been tasked to create a transit plan that balances putting a greater emphasis on ridership within a fixed budget. How can we carry more people per public dollar spent?
VTA and its Board of Directors are forced to make some tough choices. That leads staff to propose decreasing or discontinuing service on routes where the subsidy per rider is high and increasing service where the subsidy per rider is low. Subsidies on late night Route 22 are high because of the resources dedicated to the only sole route that operates overnight. During late night hours, the route bears the entirety of the cost of VTA dispatch, Santa Clara County Sheriff’s patrol, private security, and operators which raises the subsidy per rider considerably.
Discontinuing service during these hours could save VTA roughly $500,000 annually. It also means that a comparable reduction does not need to occur elsewhere in VTA’s transit network.
This begs the question about whether such gains in ridership are worth the impacts to those who would no longer have access to late night transit. It also raises a question about whether a public transit operator should be asked to provide housing.
If VTA’s Board of Directors opts to retain late night Route 22 service, we will need to find somewhere else in the transit network to provide these cost savings.
Share your feedback with VTA by February 28
VTA is seeking public input on the draft 2019 New Transit Service Plan. Your input—specifically how the proposed 2019 New Transit Service Plan might affect your travel options—is important to us and helps us understand the impact.
We encourage you to visit the website to learn more about the plan and the engagement process, and to provide your comments, questions, and feedback.
Please submit your comments here. The final day to submit comments is February 28 before a final draft plan is presented at VTA advisory and standing committees in April and the VTA Board of Directors in May.
VTA will be holding its final community meeting on Tuesday, February 19 at 11 a.m. at San Jose State University in the Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Library (Room 255).
If you are unable to attend the in-person meeting, check out a replay our online vitual meeting that provides an overview of the entire draft 2019 New Transit Service Plan.