Big Biennial Budget4 min. read

Inside the Santa Clara County Supervisors' chambers.

Inside the Santa Clara County Supervisors’ chambers where VTA Board Of Directors’ meetings are held.

It’s transit budget time again.  Thursday’s Santa Clara Valley Transportation Authority (VTA) Board Of Directors meeting will be where they vote to approve – or reject – their proposed budget for the 2020 and 2021 Fiscal Year (FY).

Details on what VTA proposes – and our own alternate to fund additional, much-needed bus increases in Santa Clara County – are below.

VTA’s Proposed 2020 & 2021 Fiscal Year Budget

Courtesy of our newest contributor, Monica Mallon of San Jose, here’s how VTA proposes to spend your money in fiscal years 2020 and 2021, with some analysis:

Here’s a breakdown, for those who can’t see the picture:

Fiscal Years 2020 & 2021 Proposed Budget Summary [1]

(Dollars in thousands)

Fund Fiscal Year 2020 Fiscal Year 2021
VTA Transit – Operating 505,427 509,901
VTA Transit – Capital 216,752 – [2]
2000 Measure A Transit Improvement Program – Operating 105,026 107,610
2000 Measure A Transit Improvement Program – Capital 903,685 – [2]
Congestion Management Program – Operating 6,259 6,016
VTP Highway Improvement Program – Capital 282,663 – [2]
Joint Development Program – Operating 421 311
Joint Development Program – Capital 8,350 – [2]
Silicon Valley Express Lanes Program – Operating 1,967 3,013
2008 Measure B – BART Operating Sales Tax Program – Operating 1,050 1,124
2016 Measure B Program 442,460 – [2]

1. Budget includes transfers between funds.
2. Total appropriation for FY 2020 and FY 2021 reflected in FY 2020

(Source: Proposed FY 2020-2021 budget pg. 7 – Adobe Acrobat PDF document)

The Friends Of Caltrain has more information on VTA’s proposed budget, and where your money goes, from a regional perspective.

A future post will have a more thorough breakdown on how YOU contribute to this – and every – VTA budget.

How We’ve Addressed the Budget Proposal

On April 3, our group’s Leadership Team (Judy Purrington, Andrew Boone, and Monica Mallon) wrote a letter to VTA expressing our concerns on the budget.  In particular, keeping overnight bus service on the 22 on El Camino Real. Our letter also expressed concern that bus service cuts also affect those who use VTA ACCESS Paratransit to get rides.  Why? According to the Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA), complimentary paratransit service must be provided within 3/4-mile of a bus route or rail station.

In that letter, our group called for VTA to re-allocate $1.85 billion from proposed highway funding from 2016 Measure B to public transit funding and expansion.  Why?  Induced demand ensures highway expansion projects only relieve traffic for at most a few years, before gridlock returns.  I personally have yet to read a report from VTA on how any of its highway expansion projects have successfully relieved traffic.  I am open to correction on this if I am wrong.

On May 9, Jim Stallman of Saratoga and I attended a public meeting on VTA’s budget proposal in Mountain View.  Listen to a recording of that meeting below:

At that meeting, we recommended that VTA take advantage of a regional “core transit capacity” program run by the Metropolitan Transportation Commission (MTC).  Details are in this Adobe Acrobat PDF document.  I personally wrote a follow-up letter to VTA requesting to look into this MTC program.

Read up on what VTA bus and light rail service will be kept – or eliminated – as of this writing.

What Can I Do?

Attend the VTA Board Of Directors’ meeting and speak up on the budget item.  Encourage them to implement our plan – or come up with one on your own.  It will be item 8.1 on the agenda.

WHEN: Thursday, June 6 at 5:30pm (or after Closed Session which starts at 4:30pm)
WHERE: Santa Clara County Supervisors’ Chambers, 70 W. Hedding St., San Jose.
GETTING THERE: VTA light rail and 61, 62, 66 local, and 181 express stop 1 block south of the Chambers, at Civic Center light rail station.

Is this your first time seeing the VTA Board Of Directors? Here are tips on speaking up at any VTA Board Of Directors’ meeting.

Can’t make it to the VTA Board Of Directors’ meeting? Here’s a contact sheet for the VTA Board member who represents YOU.


Here’s proof that working together can achieve results from government in Santa Clara County:

If these people can get results from government, YOU can do it, too.  When it comes to traffic and the need for better public transit in Silicon Valley, we are all in this together. See you on Thursday evening.

Eugene Bradley
Founder, Silicon Valley Transit Users