A statement from VTA General Manager and CEO Nuria Fernandez -
The Santa Clara Valley Transportation Authority commends and supports all public and private institutions that have taken a stand against racial injustice.
As a public transportation agency, it is our mission to provide safe, truly accessible transportation options that increase mobility and access to opportunity for all. We have a special responsibility to fulfill our mission in a way that recognizes and works to eradicate the racism that continues to plague our region and the country.
At VTA, we understand that there is still much to be learned about the impacts of racial injustice in our public spaces and in our transportation planning. VTA remains committed to learning, to continue work we have started that seeks to center equity in our planning and service delivery, and to discover new ways to abolish old barriers and create opportunity.
We are proud of the work VTA has already undertaken but we know that so much more can, and should be, done to help bring true mobility to all. We have worked to bring equity and understanding to our decision-making to ensure we are offering the services our communities need and deserve. We have strived to identify the groups and individuals most likely to be negatively impacted by our decisions, who are often people of color and those with low incomes and include their experience in our discussions and decision making, to ensure that old patterns of exclusion and inequity do not continue.
Internally, we have also looked at ourselves and taken a series of steps that will help us to more critically examine our own structures and processes to ensure we are doing all we can to be inclusive and that our workforce represents our community. Last year we reorganized, bringing the VTA Office of Civil Rights to report directly to the General Manager and CEO. Under the auspices of the Office of Civil Rights is the VTA Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Committee, consisting of a cross-section of VTA staff tasked with examining current practices, making strategic improvement recommendations to the VTA executive team on how to best implement our Diversity & Inclusion strategic plan, and serving as a voice for improving inclusion and a sense of belonging within our organization.
In connection with our DEI Committee, in January of this year, VTA joined the Government Alliance on Race and Equity, or GARE, a national network of government agencies working to achieve racial equity and advance opportunities for all. VTA’s GARE Introductory Cohort, as it’s called, includes 12 members of VTA from various backgrounds and job levels, who will be involved in a year-long curriculum learning to normalize conversations about race and recognize and eliminate injustices in our policies and practices.
But we know we can do more. We must commit on every level of the organization to principles and actions that will promote equity in our workplace, our planning, and our policies and practices:
- Identify barriers to equitable outcomes, and promote solutions that create opportunities for all;
- Empower marginalized communities;
- Listen to and strengthen partnerships with community-based organizations;
- Include all community members to maintain and enhance an environment where all voices are heard; and
- Maintain transparency in learning, teaching, and communicating effective practices around equity and inclusion, to the community and staff.
Together, we will prepare our organization today for a better tomorrow.