VTA Considers Service Cuts, Fare Hikes, Employee Buyouts to Cope with Budget Shortfall

The South Bay’s biggest public transit agency is bracing for employee buyouts, fare hikes and reduced bus service to cope with a $46 million deficit in the next two years.

At a board meeting Thursday, the Santa Clara Valley Transportation Authority (VTA) approved a number of recommendations to address the shortfall in the coming year.

Taxes, which account for some 80 percent of the VTA’s income, have been going up in recent years thanks to a series of ballot measures, but it’s not enough to cover the agency’s burgeoning expenses.

Operating costs have doubled the pace of revenues for the past six years, according to staff reports. As a result, the VTA has tapped into its capital reserves, draining them from $50 million to $5 million in the span of 18 months.

The situation is unlikely to improve. BART’s arrival in downtown San Jose at the end of next year will require additional bus service and other costs associated with the 10-mile train extension from Fremont.

The 12-member board considered a plan that would save $15 million a year by cutting service and generating an additional $2 million a year by raising fares at the rate of inflation. Another $1 million would be saved through voluntary buyouts.

Click here to read an overview of the cost-cutting plan.


  1. Public transportation going broke, needs another bail out from the tax payers that already pay 80% of its revenue it sales and property tax. This is like drilling more hole’s in your sinking boat to let the revenue in.

    What we need to do here is take government out public transportation. Driverless transportation is the new wave that will wipe bulky unwieldly government run dinosaurs unprofitable systems of the map. Senator Wiener new bill would like to force everyone into public housing and into public transportation that will require public taxes to go through the roof.

    Public transportation needs to be improved roads for the 90% of us that and pay for that public system. Public transportation needs to be run by for profit corporations or not at all. Housing needs to be run by the rules of supply and demand. Government needs to do its job making rules and enforcing common sense laws and regulations that will incentivizes the privet sector to build what is need.

  2. In lockstep the VTA Board of Directors voted to give the General Manager of the agency a 9.7% increase to her all ready inflated (over $400,000.00 salary). Broke agencies do not act this irresponsibly.

  3. I’ve got a great idea, since we aren’t selling enough bus rides right now, let raise the price! That’ll fix it.

  4. Before VTA private companies bid for the bus contract. Low bidder got the contract, which directly benefitted the citizens.

    Then gov’t bureaucrats and their Big Labor cronies pushed the VTA proposal, using their usual outright lies.

    With VTA the cost has more than tripled, while every year the taxpaying public is forced to pay more and more in subsidies.

    The “low bid” contract is a thing of the past, and now the self-serving VTA management pockets more of our money every year.

    And for what?

    Anyone have an answer? I mean an answer beside, “Shut up and pay, chumps.”

    • SMOKEY – Sell your house, move to Boise, buy a few rentals with the spare proceed. Then buy a lot of popcorn and watch the snake eat its tail and enjoy. CA is beyond helping because the same people that destroyed the state are tasked with fixing it, and their only idea is to double down.

    • When did VTA award contracts for bus service? And how are you sure that the operational cost is not going up for other reasons. I remember the price for VTA to run a bus for an hour is roughly 150 to 180 dollars an hour which is right in step with other bay bay transit agencies.

      • COMMENTATOR sez:

        When did VTA award contracts for bus service?

        VTA never awarded contracts, that’s my point. Before VTA came into existence that was the way the County provided transportation services. But like monkey see monkey do, now all the local governments run their own bus lines.

        Originally, a bunch of politicians and their union advisors got together, and told their usual lies to the public (promising savings, efficiency, etc., &etc.)

        But in reality, it was always a scam on the taxpaying public: a bunch of VTA ‘managers’ who never managed a bus line before got together with unions, and stuck it to the public.

        The newly created VTA promptly began running up expenses, since they didn’t have any competitors to worry about, and the unions (primarily the Teamsters) got their payof: suddenly every VTA employee below management level became ‘organized’, whether they wanted to be in a union or not.

        If a company in the private sector scammed the public like that, their corporate officers would be in the state penitentiary. But since the gov’t is doing the scamming, it’s all A-OK.

        Nice, huh?

        So, is there any recourse? Sure there is: vote against every incumbent. But the public doesn’t seem willing to do that, so…

        Grab your ankles, folks, and repeat after me: “We’re the Chumps!”

        But maybe, if we get fed up enough with the fact that we’re paying HALF our earned income to these unnecessary bureaucratic parasites… we’ll remember what to do at election time.


  5. “Operating costs have doubled the pace of revenues for the past six years, according to staff reports.”

    That makes no sense to me. They didn’t add buses, they just got more crowded. If more people are paying, why haven’t they had more money to work with instead of less?

    I see the argument for raising ticket prices if that’s truly the only way to keep routes from being cut, but I’d like to see an investigation into why the service keeps blowing through its budget.

    Where are these increased costs coming from, and how did they fail to forecast them? It’s not like they could’ve fit any more people on these trains and buses. If anything, we should be living in the most optimistic of projections from 5 years ago.

    I feel like we’re getting ripped off, and I’m going to be truly pissed off if they cut the routes we depend on for getting around, raise our taxes, raise our ticket prices, and still continue dismantling the transit agency I’ve used for nearly 30 years.

  6. See my comments ALL CAPS

    “Operating costs have doubled the pace of revenues for the past six years WAIT: FOR SIX YEARS AND THEY HAVEN’T DONE ANYTHING ABOUT IT? DID VTA TELL TAXPAYERS? HOW COULD THIS GO ON?, according to staff reports. As a result, the VTA has tapped into its capital reserves, draining them from $50 million to $5 million in the span of 18 months.” THIS IS AN OUTRAGE. THIS IS TAXPAYER MONEY THAT IS BEING HORRIBLY MISSPENT. THEY HAVE BANKRUPTED THE SYSTEM–AND TO NO PURPOSE. HAS ANYONE FROM VTA TRIED TO EXPLAIN HOW ON EARTH THIS COULD HAPPEN?

  7. the same day this issue showed up in the McNews another article told how the county was going to spend $4.5mm to offer valet parking for county employees. Different dept I realize but still county gov’t. I guess the public deserves this. After all these people are our superiors – –

  8. Did some poking around and realized that the comments section of the Merc’s article on the VTA shortfall has good opinions and analysis of why this is happening, I recommend to those who are interested.

  9. I have an idea, Google has money to burn in SJ, sell the hole scam system to them , before you let them dig single a hole in San Jose.

  10. For over 10 years during the last recession, VTA did absolutely nothing. A couple of interchanges, which were federally funded anyway and not with VTA money. Now that traffic volumes are up and congestion is intolerable, people are mad at VTA. You should have done something during those 10 years. Construction prices were low, you would have got more done with less money. Now between your sales tax, and an increased state gas tax, the construction market is flooding with money. Except, there is only so many contractors available, so the prices go up. So wow, now you get the same around done for more money. You are geniuses. Seriously, remember FDR and stimulus spending through public works. You guys are doing the opposite, don’t spend during the downtime, then overspend during the up times. In the end this is a big joke and not sure why the are releasing this propaganda at this point – you are collecting SIX BILLION dollars through your sales tax. 46 million…myeh. Come on.

  11. VTA’s C.O.O makes over 400k annually. She also receives money to pay for her “work residence” so she doesn’t have to commute from Los Gatos and she also gets X amount of dollars to pay for a personal car. Maybe if VTAs head honchos didn’t spend money on stupid shit and get in over their on projects they wouldn’t be in this situation.

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