Santa Clara VTA Riders Union

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It's Time For a Change:
How You Can Bring Real Accountability to South Bay Transit

What Can I Do?

Recent articles and an editorial in the Palo Alto Daily News appeared last week regarding the need for changes in how the Santa Clara Valley Transportation Authority (VTA) is governed. Currently, 5 of the 12 VTA Board members are from San Jose, and are selected by Mayor Ron Gonzales and the San Jose City Council. Other cities have their Board members rotate between cities every few years, with members appointed from their city councils. This is the opposite of how BART and AC Transit create their Board of Directors, which is thru direct election by voters. Board members on both of these transit agencies are represented by district - either by population or by ridership.

In other words, you cannot run for a seat on the VTA Board. In addition, you cannot vote for nor recall a VTA Board member. As a result, VTA's management is essentially accountable to NO ONE.

This is a huge problem, given:

Because VTA is a special state agency, any changes on how it is governed require an act of the California State Legislature. To that end, we must start lobbying our State Assembly Members and State Senators - NOW - to change the way VTA is governed, to have Board members directly elected by voters similar to how BART's and AC Transit's Board members are selected. You need not be reminded as to the need for real accountability since we will be paying some form of sales tax for mass transit until at least 2036.

A current list of State Assembly members and State Senators in Santa Clara County can be found here, courtesy of the San Jose/Silicon Valley Chamber of Commerce. Write to your State Assembly member and DEMAND that he or she propose and approve legislation that changes how the VTA is governed. VTA Board members must be directly elected by voters, not appointed by local city council members. Every city or area in Santa Clara County must be represented on a VTA Board of Directors that is fully accountable to the public it is supposed to serve. The VTA Board of Directors, the way it is set up now, is disinterested in providing the basic transit service it is supposed to provide to the public.

If you are unsure which State Assembly member represents you, please contact the County Registrar of Voters at (408)299-8683 and ask who represents you on the California State Assembly. Alternately, you can visit and click on the "Look Up Your Districts" link and fill out the form there.

A sample letter that you can use to contact your State Assembly member will be available soon.

The more commuters who write in and demand change - the sooner we can resolve the real root issue of VTA's many crises.

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