While the Santa Clara Valley Transportation Authority (VTA) momentarily stopped collecting fares amid the COVID-19 pandemic, payment will soon be required again to board—in addition to continued mandatory face coverings.
Beginning Aug. 1, fares will resume for VTA buses, light rail and other transit services.
With ridership down by over 100,000 people per weekday, according to VTA spokesman Ken Blackstone, “no one really knows” what the future of transit will look like in Silicon Valley. But one thing is certain: trains and buses will keep running, regardless.
“We are looking at all the different possibilities, monitoring all the news and policies and legislation,” Blackstone said. “We’re kind of learning how it’s going to be as it happens, but we also are doing our due diligence to plan and ensure that we can provide the best service and meet the needs of our customers.”
The lowest passenger drop came in mid-April when VTA saw a regular ridership of about 25,000—compared to a regular, non-pandemic weekday rate of about 121,000 riders. Lately, the average rate has been about 31,000 per day, he said.
While service frequency has been diminished throughout the last several months, the transit agency is looking to make adjustments as needed, including new partitions for bus drivers, contactless payment, further cleanings and sanitization of buses, trains and paratransit vehicles, as well as further public outreach.
As VTA looks to bounce back, a new plan was released this past week to help move forward safely. The plan’s 10 points are as follows:
- Clean and sanitize vehicles and facilities
- Require face coverings
- Safely distance
- Maintain a healthy workforce
- Adjust service frequency/hours based on demand
- Protect operators and passengers
- Increase contactless payment/fare collection
- Increase customer information
- Adopt new technology and industry methodology
- Enhance community partnerships
The full details and specifics of the plan can be found here.