Silicon Valley Transit Users

You are here: > DIY > Making Your Voice Heard At VTA Meetings

Making Your Voice Heard At a VTA Board Meeting or Workshop

How It Works
At the VTA Meeting Itself
Tips For Making Your Point

Bookmark and Share


Do you have a compliment or complaint about Santa Clara County's bus and light rail system? Does your group have an idea that could improve the South Bay's transit system? You can get your voice heard by the Valley Transportation Authority!

As a taxpayer in Santa Clara County, you have the right to speak directly to the people who run Santa Clara County's transit system.

Back to Top

How It Works

The VTA Board of Directors and its committees all hold monthly meetings open to the public. Depending on the type of meeting, you're allowed to speak either at the beginning or the end of each meeting, during the "public presentations" period. For VTA Board of Directors meetings and workshops, the public presentation period is after the VTA votes on the minutes of the last board meeting, typically toward the end of the VTA Board meeting.

You can speak on any transit topic you want, provided it's within the jurisdiction of the VTA Board or committee. State law forbids Board action or extended discussion of any item not in the meeting's agenda except under special circumstances. If Board action is requested, the matter can be placed on the agenda at a future meeting. All statements requiring a response will be referred to VTA staff for reply in writing.

Everything from purchasing to the quality of service is on the agenda every month. Other topics, like service cuts or fare hikes, can be up for discussion, too.

Unless otherwise noted, VTA Board meetings are held on the first Thursday of every month at 6pm in the County Supervisors Chambers of the County Government Center at 70 W. Hedding Street in San Jose. The County Government Center is near the Civic Center light rail station, and is on or near VTA bus lines 32, 62, 66, and 180. You can find a schedule and location of VTA Board meetings and workshops here.

Here's how to find out when and where the VTA meetings are and what's on the agenda:

If you know you will miss the last bus for home when the meeting ends, have a friend or neighbor drive you to and from the VTA meeting. If you use OUTREACH paratransit, have them pick you up at the end of the meeting.

Back to Top

At The VTA Meeting Itself...

To ensure that you can speak, fill out a speakers card (17K JPEG) before the meeting to get a chance to speak. Plan on arriving 30 minutes before full VTA board meetings and 15 minutes before VTA committee meetings. The sign-in table is typically as you enter the meeting room. To register, give your speakers card to any of the Board Secretaries. This will help make sure you get a chance to speak.

You are given only two minutes to speak, so you need to get your point across quickly. You will be called to a speakers' stand near the middle of the room, in front of the VTA Board or committee. At VTA Board of Directors meetings in the auditorium at 70 W. Hedding Street in San Jose, a 2-minute countdown clock will time you. The clock is located on the center right side of the back of the auditorium. You will be cut off when the time runs out, so be polite and to the point when you are up there.

Back to Top

Tips For Making Your Point

  1. Bring friends, neighbors, co-workers, and fellow riders to the meeting. Get them to speak at the meeting as well.
  2. Time your comments before the meeting. (The VTA Board Chair or Committee Chair is strict about time, with your microphone cut off if you run over!) If there are a lot of speakers, you may have your comments limited to one minute - be prepared for this!
  3. Stick to your topic!
  4. Be forceful -- but it's wise to stay clear of arguments that don't make your point, like personal attacks.
  5. Spell out exactly what you want the VTA to do.
  6. Bring copies of your statement to give to board members and reporters who are covering the meeting. Reporters are usually in the area next to the speakers' podium, or at the entrance of the meeting room. You can ask the VTA staff on hand to hand out your statement to the board members. NOTE: per the February 6, 2003 VTA Board meeting, if you have copies of a letter or other information you need to give to VTA Board members, you must make at least 25 copies of your information.  This is for distribution to VTA Board members as well as staff.

Back to Top

back to main page

Email for more information
or to report problems with our website

Disclaimer: We are NOT affiliated with, nor endorsed by, the Santa Clara Valley Transportation Authority in any way whatsoever.