New VTA Transit Plan Underway

Posted on February 8, 2017 by  
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A worst-case scenario for the Santa Clara Valley Transportation Authority (VTA) is having to pay $160 per hour for the operation of a 40-foot bus with no riders.

With an emphasis on cost effectiveness and providing service where it’s most needed, the VTA has produced a draft plan for adding and, in some cases, eliminating bus routes throughout Santa Clara County.

The new plan accommodates the arrival of Milpitas and Berryessa BART stations, scheduled to open at the end of the year, and adds more bus routes at 15-minute intervals throughout the heart of San Jose. VTA plans a frequent (every 15 minutes with limited stops) light-rail line from BART to the Castro Street station in Mountain View.

“By the end of the year, there will be thousands more coming through on BART,” said VTA spokeswoman Stacey Hendler Ross. “We had to figure out how to accommodate these people and get them to the employment centers.”

The bus routes aren’t changing for Los Altos. However, VTA is running at 30-minute intervals to and from Foothill College during weekday commute times. In Mountain View, Line 40 loops north of Highway 101 to access the Google campus, bridging Shoreline Boulevard and Charleston Road. Plans also show Line 51 along Grant Road accessing St. Francis and Mountain View high schools, with regular 60-minute intervals bumped up to 30 minutes during peak use times.

Lines 522 and 22 along El Camino Real continue with lines at 15-minute or under intervals. There’s no trace of the controversial bus-only lane for El Camino that generated vocal opposition and fears of gridlock.

Adam Burger, VTA senior transportation planner, said the new draft plan, open to public comment through Feb. 20, balances “best use of public funds versus the needs of seniors and students and people who rely on transit.”

Los Altos City Councilwoman Jeannie Bruins, who was appointed chairwoman of the VTA board in December, said the endgame is a plan that doesn’t increase costs while providing more service. “This one’s going to get us more ridership,” she said.

VTA officials plan to bring a final proposal before the board by their April 6 meeting, followed by implementation. Plan completion is targeted by the end of 2018.

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