That Santa Clara Valley Transit Authority (VTA) may discontinue some all-day, express and school routes and reduce frequency on others—including its only 24-hour line known as Hotel 22—in response to a looming budget shortfall.
The proposed changes come at the direction of the VTA board in response to a projected $20 million-plus deficit in the coming fiscal year. But the planned cost-cutting measure of halting Route 22 from 1am to 4am has drawn considerable backlash from advocates for the homeless, who rely on the round-the-clock bus line for shelter on cold nights.
A midnight protest is planned for March 6 to call attention to the looming cutback.
VTA officials said they recognize that buses can be safe havens for some riders and plans to meet with a number of safety-net service providers to talk about the potential impacts of limiting service on Route 22.
Here’s the link to the event page: https://t.co/ebjtlO9j0N
More info will be posted soon.
— MONICA MALLON (@monicamallon) February 12, 2019
Commuter routes for South County riders could also be affected, according to draft plans appended to meeting agendas and on the VTA blog. A post by the authority announcing some of the changes said the VTA board is attempting to avoid decreasing transit in the South County because of the high number of commuters riding to and from San Jose.
“Routes 14, 17, and 19 in Gilroy would still be restructured into a bidirectional loop as proposed in the 2017 Next Network Plan, but service levels would not change. Route 16 in Morgan Hill would be renamed to Route 87, but would otherwise remain unchanged,” wrote Holly Perez, public information officer for the authority, in the blog post.
The VTA is proposing to cut two “commute period trips” on Express Route 168, which connects the Gilroy Transit Center with Diridon Station, reducing the number of trips from seven to five “to better match demand without sacrificing rider convenience.”
Perez told the this news organization in an email that additional proposed South County changes include changing the frequency for weekday midday on Route 68 between Santa Teresa Station and Gilroy to every 15 minutes from 30 minutes, eliminating 3 of 9 daily trips in each direction on Express 121, eliminating 2 of 7 daily trips in each direction on Express 168 and discontinuing routes on Express 185.
The VTA said it will continue to consult the public on the 2019 draft transit service plan. Public input is currently being sought for the proposal before its final adoption in May. Perez said the plan is to have it ready for implementation this fall.
VTA scheduled a “virtual meeting” today to continue collecting community input on the changes. According to a VTA blog post, the authority is facing a $26 million deficit in 2019. The proposed changes are set to save the authority $15 million annually, with 70 changes across bus and light rail services in the current draft of the plan.
To read more about the pending plan, click here.
Jennifer Wadsworth also contributed to this report.