Growing up in Fremont, VTA Board Chair and President of the Santa Clara County Board of Supervisors Cindy Chavez has vivid memories of taking public transportation.
“I had an opportunity to get access to education because VTA existed. One of the most important things that public transportation does is it equalizes opportunity,” Chavez told ABC 7 anchor Kumasi Aaron, during an interview in observance of Hispanic Heritage Month. “It takes people from where they are, whether they have a car or not, to where they most want to be. Whether that's San Jose State, a community college, a great job, training, the grocery store, the doctor's office. VTA is all about connecting people to ways to make their lives better," Chavez said.
Cindy Chavez is one of only two Latina women who have served as VTA’s Board Chair, this is her third term over the last 15 years in public office. She was asked why she thought it was important to have a Latina at the helm of a large public agency. “I think each of us, whatever ethnicity we are, we bring perspective, we bring our life experiences, a fresh lens. So making sure that we all bring a perspective is why it's important to have so many different kinds of people in public service," she said.
Chavez also talked about the extraordinary measures VTA has taken to assure customers it is safe to ride public transit. “VTA has put a lot of protocols in place, including keeping the buses clean, limiting the number of people who can be on a bus and having protective guards there for our drivers,” Chavez said. “So we are trying our very best make sure that for every person who gets on a VTA bus or light rail, that they have the safest commute possible. And it also requires all of us to do our part and that means you can't ride VTA unless you're wearing a mask, and that's a reminder to all of us that we need to wear masks and stay socially distant, and that's VTA's mantra right now."
One of the things we're really focused on is that our heaviest routes can make their times and that they're available to folks.
Chavez also took the opportunity to champion one of her major public platforms for both VTA and the County of Santa Clara: climate change. “Public transit is a great way to contribute to bringing down our greenhouse gases and staying out of our single occupancy vehicles.”
The interview aired on ABC7’s Midday Live on Wednesday, October 14.