It’s been eight weeks since social distancing and sheltering in place has become the norm in our rapidly changing environment due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
VTA transit services and congestion management programs, such as express lane operations and highway construction projects, are considered essential and are exempt from the shelter in place order. VTA employees who can do their jobs from home are doing so – a telecommuting trend that has resulted in a drastic decrease in roadway congestion and polluted air. For the hundreds of bus and train operators, and maintenance staff who must come to work to do their jobs, we are making sure they have all the proper protections and a clean environment for them and our customers.
Our biggest communications effort has been focused on transit service information and evolving riding requirements, like the newly mandated use of face coverings while onboard VTA vehicles. This flow of information will continue especially as we make adjustments once shelter in place restrictions begin to loosen. However, in the meantime, you will also start to hear more about other VTA initiatives underway, and our hope is that you find it a welcome break from COVID-19 news.
Public Engagement Now and in the Future
While we shelter in place, essential construction work continues, including the Mathilda Avenue Improvements at SR 237 and US 101 and the US 101 Express Lanes. Construction on the I-280/Foothill Expressway Ramp Improvements started at the end of April, and we are continuing to do rehabilitation work on our aging light rail system.
If you live near one of these projects, you will receive construction notices by mail, or you can find notices on the VTA website project pages. You may even see updates pop up on NextDoor or your email if you’re subscribed to inform you of project developments.
Behind the scenes, VTA teams continue to do advanced planning and design for transit, highway, and transit-oriented development projects and studies. As we adjust to the new challenges of staying indoors more, we are exploring ways to keep you informed and engaged in our public processes which are critical to building better transportation solutions together.
In the near term, we have postponed non-essential committee meetings while mission-critical meetings, such as our Board of Directors, are conducted on-line. We do not expect to go back to in-person meetings or large community gatherings anytime soon but will reintroduce this strategy once it is okay to do so. Instead, we are engaging in alternative communication platforms that we hope will feel comfortable and safe for our community and staff.
You can expect to see more online webinars or virtual town-hall meetings. Whether live or pre-recorded, they will be interactive so you can provide feedback and receive responses. You’ll be seeing survey requests to obtain your input about upcoming services changes, capital projects and planning studies – please participate and have your voice represented.
If you are holding a neighborhood meeting on-line and would like VTA to ‘attend’, and share information, invite us! We are getting pretty good with these virtual meetings and hangouts. Whether in an email, social media post or blog, webinar, or telephone town hall, VTA is committed to keeping you informed and engaged about our projects, programs, and services. We’re here to serve!