2019 New transit service plan
VTA Asks for Public Input on DRAFT 2021 Transit Service Plan
09/11/2020
Ken Blackstone

When VTA revamped its transit network in 2019, we committed to review the service plan every year to adapt to changes in ridership and traffic, new developments, and economic forecasts. Little did we know that the COVID-19 pandemic would create a paradigm shift to all aspects of life, including  major changes to commute patterns, work and school environments, and entertainment restrictions that have all had an impact on the way we provide public transit service in Santa Clara County.

Transitioning smoothly out of the current “COVID Service” to the 2021 Transit Service planned for early next year will be a gradual process. As we see the demand start to increase, we are proactively planning to restore valuable and efficient transit service as mandated stay-at-home restrictions are loosened and the industry adjusts to new safe travel measures like mandatory face coverings and appropriate physical distance between riders.

An immediate return to pre-COVID levels of service will not be feasible given the economic challenges brought on by the pandemic. Evaluating multiple 2021 Transit Service Plan scenarios will be necessary to:

  • Preserve as much ridership as possible systemwide
  • Ensure reductions are fair and equitable
  • Minimize service reductions by achieving transit speed increases
  • Ensure scheduled running times are accurate and reflect real traffic conditions


Three Draft Plans

The 2021 Transit Service Plan will have to reflect several new realities related to the COVID-19 pandemic, including lower sales tax revenues, new travel patterns, and potentially lower ridership. Three proposals will be the subject of community engagement through mid-October. Based on community feedback and analysis, staff will revise the three service plan proposals for the VTA Board’s consideration on December 3.

The plan, to be implemented on February 8,  2021, will be leaner than our pre-COVID baseline network (launched on December 28, 2019) to reflect the financial impact of COVID on VTA’s transit budget. Lower revenues and lower ridership demand brought on by the pandemic will necessitate a 10 to 30 percent reduction in service levels.

For this purpose, staff has developed three scenarios that reflect a 10-, 20-, and 30-percent reduction in service hours when compared to the pre-COVID baseline network. Changes have been proposed to nearly every transit route in VTA’s network, ranging from minor adjustments to major route changes, including frequency on the core network, reduced evening, midday and weekend service, and the permanent elimination of entire routes.


Summary of Major Service Change Themes

Reductions compared to pre-COVID baseline service are indicated in bold.

Theme

100%
(Pre-COVID)

90% Plan

80% Plan

70% Plan

Rail Frequency

Weekday:
15 min.
Weekend:
20 min.

Weekday:
15 min.
Weekend:
30 min.

Weekday:
20 min.
Weekend:
30 min.

Weekday:
20 min.
Weekend:
30 min.

Rail End Time

1:30 a.m.

12:30 a.m.

12:30 a.m.

10 p.m.

Frequent Network Bus Frequency

15 min.

15 min.

20 min.

20 min.

Bus End Time

Varies

A few routes
end earlier

Most routes
end earlier

All routes end
at 10 p.m.

Midday Bus
Service Reductions

n/a

1 route

Minor

Major

Weekend Bus
Service Reductions

n/a

Minor

Minor

Major

Discontinued
Bus Routes

n/a

None

None

2 routes

New
Bus Routes

n/a

Rapid 568

Rapid 568

None


Public Input Needed

VTA planning, customer service and community outreach teams are seeking public input on the Draft 2021 Transit Service Plan and need your input to help shape the decision that will be made by the Board later this year. We encourage you to visit the VTA website to learn more about the plan and the engagement process, and to provide your comments, questions, and feedback. The public is also encouraged to attend a virtual community meeting, noted below, or invite our staff to virtually meet with your organization or neighborhood group to discuss the plan. Your input—specifically how EACH proposed plan might affect your travel options—is important to us and helps us understand the impact.

VTA will hold two virtual community meetings that will feature a presentation from staff and opportunities for the public to ask questions and provide input into the planning process. We encourage those who wish to attend live to please RSVP for one of the following community meetings:

September 23, 2020 at 6 p.m.
Virtual Community Meeting
RSVP on Eventbrite

September 29, 2020 at 11 a.m.
Virtual Community Meeting
RSVP on Eventbrite

Recordings of these meetings will be shared on VTA’s YouTube channel. Go to https://www.vta.org/projects/2021-transit-service-plan where you will find general draft plan information and be able to compare the proposed differences in plans by route or by city, and in multiple languages. Your participation in how we shape the future of transit is much appreciated!

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