Needed: Directly-Elected VTA Board Members

Inside the Santa Clara County Supervisors' chambers.

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

Tired of reading story after story on how VTA wastes your money and is mismanaged?  Tired of being forced to drive in traffic gridlock because of VTA’s service cuts over the years, rooted in their mismanagement? Now is your best chance to help change it all for the better.  The Santa Clara Valley Transportation Authority (VTA) wants your input on how it seeks to be governed in the future.

VTA created a survey to take your input, which includes several questions.  They are also taking your phone calls at (408)952-4200 to take in your input, until December 6.  A public meeting will be held December 20 to further discuss restructuring; details will be posted when information is available.

Recall back in June on how the Santa Clara County Civil Grand Jury trashed VTA’s poor governance in their 61-page report.  A story from the Mountain View Voice on the Grand Jury report sums up one key recommendation:

The grand jury report lays much of the responsibility for this dysfunction on the VTA Board of Directors. The 12-member governing board consists entirely of political appointees who must be currently serving as city council members or on the Santa Clara County Board of Supervisors. Often, board members face a steep learning curve, and it doesn’t help that they often lack any experience in transportation, finance or management of an agency of this size, the report says.

Having a directly-elected VTA Board of Directors is something our group has been fighting for since 2003. Back then, we were known as the Santa Clara VTA Riders Union (SCVTARU). A story in the November 12 edition of the Silicon Valley Business Journal gives some examples of how other transit agencies throughout the nation are governed.

In that online survey and at (408)952-4200, make sure you ask VTA to have a directly-elected Board of Directors.  You can do that on Question #6 in the survey.  In Question #7, make sure to ask for public transit service throughout Santa Clara County, not just for downtown and East San Jose.

It is past time to bring much-needed accountability to public transit in Santa Clara County.  Part of a better nation, as Internet essayist Jim Wright would remind us, starts when you elect a better government.  Let’s start fighting for some of that better government for public transit today.  Getting that better government starts when YOU take that survey and make that phone call.

Eugene Bradley
Founder, Silicon Valley Transit Users

  6 comments for “Needed: Directly-Elected VTA Board Members

  1. Monica Mallon
    December 1, 2019 at 2:29 pm

    I agree that we need better service to South County but I don’t think that light rail is the right approach. Eastridge and Vasona LR were planned when I was 3 years old. I’m turning 23 next year and neither of them has broken ground. We need less expensive, flashy capital projects (LR extensions) and more inexpensive, quick improvements (more service, signal priority, bus lanes). Also, Caltrain just approved a business plan that includes more trips to South County. I think that we should focus on improving Caltrain and expanding the bus network as soon as possible instead of focusing on light rail which is very expensive and takes a long time to build.

  2. Mark van Wyk
    December 1, 2019 at 8:45 am

    Number one priority: Light Rail to Gilroy, with stops in Morgan Hill and San Martin along the way.

    • Simon Oh
      December 1, 2019 at 3:41 pm

      I don’t see light rail to Gilroy as being all that worthwhile when Caltrain — my employer — is already running limited service with eventual plans to slightly upgrade its frequency in a few decades’ time. It’s a booming part of the county but better served by Caltrain and buses. Also, BART service to Gilroy makes little sense as existing rail infrastructure already exists and can be easily upgradable for expanded Caltrain and Capitol Corridor services. (San Mateo County Transit District (SMCTD), which runs SamTrans, Caltrain and SMCTA, is my employer. This comment is solely my opinion and not that of SMCTD.)

      • Mark van Wyk
        December 1, 2019 at 3:50 pm

        Your opinion is noted. CalTrain service is bad, unreliable, expensive, and not frequent enough. I have taken it thousands of times over the decades, so I know of what I speak. The stops are also not serving enough of Silicon Valley. Maybe you should take 101 north from Gilroy to Silicon Valley some mid-week morning and tell me that a reliable Light Rail line, running every 15 to 20 minutes, from 5 a.m. till midnight every day wouldn’t help. Instead of the State of California wasting our money on the Bullet Train/Crony Train to nowhere, they should think ahead and plan for a light rail line connecting the southern Santa Clara County with the rest of Silicon Valley.

        • December 2, 2019 at 10:58 am

          Mark:

          Thank you for your comments here. I concur with Monica’s and Simon’s comments. If anything, I feel that having light rail to South County duplicates already existing transit services like Caltrain and VTA’s 68 bus line. As Simon pointed out, there are plans to expand Caltrain service between Silicon Valley and South County.

          I was wondering if you’ve ever heard of the express bus lines VTA serves South County with during peak commute hours. Those express bus lines are the 121, 168, and 185. The 168 serves downtown San Jose while the other 2 serve Lockheed and the Mountain View business park, respectively. I say this as someone who once drove 101 from down south thru Gilroy up to Silicon Valley during the morning “peak” rush hour. It had me wondering if people ever heard of these express bus lines linking South County with the rest of Silicon Valley.

          Also, are you aware that VTA has a driver shortage now? This impacts current and future service plans. Read up on VTA’s driver shortage here:

          https://www.svtransitusers.org/news/driver-shortage-at-vta

          VTA’s driver shortage currently impacts current and future bus and light rail service. There will be an update on VTA’s driver shortage posted here later this week. Let’s make sure we don’t repeat many of the mistakes being made of building “crony” projects with little thought of how they will be run and managed once built.

          Eugene Bradley
          Founder, Silicon Valley Transit Users

          • Mark van Wyk
            December 2, 2019 at 11:29 am

            Yes I am perfectly aware of the express lines. I’ve taken them a number of times. Are they working? No. Reason: because they don’t run often enough.
            We need a fixed, light rail system — independent from the roads on its own tracks — that runs from early morning to late at night frequently — like every 15 minutes or so. Then people will use it. You can go to work whenever you need to, and come home whenever you need to.
            A single line running from Santa Teresa light rail to Gilroy transit station would take tens of thousands of cars off of the freeways.
            We also need a bus line running up Santa Teresa from Gavilan College, through Gilroy, by Christopher High, through San Martin, and on to Morgan Hill Caltrain station.
            YES, I KNOW THERE IS A LINE 68. It’s miles away from thousands of residents.

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