Does Public Transportation Match Community Wishlist of Services?

The topic of government providing transportation to seniors came up during our budget study sessions. Combined, the city and county currently provide a senior lunch program. The discussion was around the cost and value of increasing services like transportation to receive this lunch service.

Like many cities, San Jose has facilities that serve residents, such as community centers, libraries and parks. These facilities are typically scattered around cities so that all areas of the municipality may utilize them.

But if the city is being asked to provide transportation for seniors to community centers, why not expand this to libraries as well? Libraries offer social engagement and lifelong learning. Perhaps we should promote the value of fresh air and open space with daily transportation to Alum Rock Park.

We also have youth under 16 that are unable to drive and they certainly would benefit from free transportation to parks, libraries and community centers. In some communities, youth get free bus rides with a library card.

Allowing residents to access their government in person is another shared value. Perhaps providing free transportation to City Hall for the many public meetings occurring Monday through Friday?

The cost for point-to-point round trip transportation is $12.50 to $20, while the cost of a senior lunch provided is $6 with a requested $2.50 donation. Does it make sense to spend more on transportation than the meal? There is value providing socialization opportunities for seniors and a meal. 

At a potential cost of $18.50 to $26.50 per person, should the city consider a gift certificate to an eatery that may be closer to the resident than a city facility and benefit a small business owner? Off the topic of transportation, but related, should the city build and maintain fitness centers or instead negotiate a low rate at private fitness clubs for residents that would avoid operation and maintenance costs to the city budget?

Should government, via VTA, provide free public transit to both seniors and youth? What if the community serving facility or the resident’s home is not next to a bus line? Maybe the City could add a requirement to its taxi license permits that requires a certain number of free or reduced rides for youth and seniors? Does a separate transit agency like VTA serve the goals of the city and county? Or maybe we should allow private vans, like Jeepney’s in the Philippines, to deliver people point to point?

Although all of these services have a value, we cannot ignore the cost. 

I really appreciate the city of San Jose’s partnership with the county of Santa Clara to continue a senior lunch program. Thank you to the county of Santa Clara and the work of Supervisor Liz Kniss and Councilmember Pete Constant on maintaining this service.


  1. Whatever happened to people walking from point A to B? Old people go to the free lunch becuse it is FREE!  (any numbers on how many make that suggested donation? very few!) Libraries? you can get anything you want and more online AND you dont have to deal with the CREEPS surfing porn in the computer section, AND librarys are no longer the quiet places to study /research – THEY ARE FREEDAY CARE FOR LOUDMOUTH KIDS WHO RUN AMUCK UNDER THE WATCHFUL EYE OF LIBRARY STAFF.

    PLO before you waste anymore time and taxpayer money on these ZOOS WITH BOOKS go visit the local Willow Glen Branch – I demanded the librarians enforce silence in the place and they acted like I was taking away the kids birthdays, Christmas , Halloween and the Easter Bunny.

    • Can’t expect too much from volunteer librarians. Thanks to PLO, all the former nationally recognized librarians have moved on elsewhere and he thinks it’s a great idea to fill the void with volunteers. Volunteers who may just as likely be zookeepers too. I personally would be more upset with the parents of such kids, but that’s just me.

  2. Wow, talk about a full circle argument… I can’t quite figure out what you are trying to say because, as usual, you distract the topic with useless blabber. Anyhow, if you are truly dedicated to the community, as you try so hard to claim, why not sell the Rose Garden? I really don’t see your fascinations on with roses, when basic livelihood services are being cut. We already know you don’t much care for nationally recognized programs after your decisions to outsource library and graffiti abatement services. Let’s just rid ourselves of the Rose Garden, sell the property for profit. It’s really got no purpose other than open land that is underused, and taking money from the D6 HP Grant Fund, some 26% I believe. Anywho…. Just thoughts.

  3. Pier,

    Feeding seniors is something that as a humane society we need to do. We also should house and transport them if needed. The care we provide our seniors is terrible for the most part.

    On another topic, this was in today. This is also something of grave concern that you, the council, mayor, and city manager are responsible for. This is an exchange between our department letting Long Beach PD know we are hiring lateral officers (though literally 1 has applied). What are your feelings regarding this?

    “Due to the dramatic increase in resignations from SJPD, and an awareness that it is impossible for San Jose to train enough officers to compensate for these loses and keep residents safe, the department is making a desperate attempt to hire laterals (already trained officers currently working for other agencies). 

    Below is an excerpt from an email exchange that was leaked to Protect San Jose. The first email in this exchange was a message sent out by SJPD’s hiring unit to other Police Associations across the nation asking them to share the information that San Jose PD is hiring laterals. The second email is a response to the first from the President of the Long Beach Police Officers’ Association. Pay close attention to his words. Needless to say, we doubt San Jose will be receiving any laterals from Long Beach.

    Sent: Monday, June 04, 2012


    Subject: San Jose Police

    I am the Recruiting Sergeant for The San Jose Police Department. We are currently looking for Lateral Police Officers who would be interested in making the move to California and joining SJPD. I am asking Police Unions throughout the country to please distribute our information to members.

    Thank you

    Sent: Tuesday, June 5, 2012


    Subject: Re: San Jose Police

      Dear   ,

    I received your email regarding your recruiting efforts.  To be very candid with you, there is no way in good conscience that I could recommend your department to anyone at this time due solely to the efforts of your mayor and other elected officials to decimate the pay and benefit structure you currently enjoy.

    I hope for the best for you and all of the San Jose Police Officers, and I have the utmost respect for all of you, but until the politicians show some good faith effort to work responsibly toward solutions, I will not be able to pass on your recruiting efforts to anyone.

    Steve James


    Long Beach Police Officers’ Association.”

  4. These politicians are so out of touch. That is why I spend my money else where. Unfortunately I live in district 6 and so some some of my taxes go to the city of San Jose. But when I spend my paycheck I make sure it’s not in this city. I go to Campbell, Los Gatos, Palo Alto, Morgan Hill and the best place to hang out San Francisco.

    The best restaurants are in those cities. As far as sports teams, I love college football and have season tickets to University of California Golden Bears. As far as pro teams, the San Francisco Giants have the best atmosphere and are jewel of the bay area. Once in a while I will go and watch the San Jose Giants, it’s five bucks for a ticket, plus it puts the money into pockets of San Francisco Giants. Love hockey, but will not go to the game because some the money goes to the city.

    I’ve never been to Happy Hollow park and will never go, and will never allow my kids to go. I don’t know if people know this, but the city of San Jose spent 75 million dollars on
    a petting zoo. I would rather drive an hour and pay a little more to see a real zoo.

    This city has wasted billions of dollars on downtown and there is nothing to show for it. No atmosphere, no character, and absolutely no tradition and if we had any traditions they are gone now.

    Is this an unfortunate way to think, probably. I’m I bitter, maybe a little. But this the way I can get back at the mayor and his muppets.  I urge everybody to spend their money some where else.

    Oh, by the way, when I shop for food I go to Safeway and Costco in Santa Clara.

    • I just looked at a map of District 6.  I didn’t realize that Santana Row was in District 6.  All this time I thought it was in District 1.

      Santana Row is what’s wrong with San Jose.  I don’t mean that Santana Row isn’t successful, I mean that Santana Row is successful in spite of San Jose.  The City seems to go out of its way to make things difficult for Santana Row.  This is because a lot of people seem to believe that whatever success Santana Row should have had, should have been downtown instead.

      San Jose should wise up.  Stevens Creek generates lots of revenue for San Jose.  The City should be looking for ways to make that area more attractive to shoppers.  People decide where they want to spend money.  When they want to go to Santana Row, then make it easier and more pleasant.

      How about putting a pedestrian overpass between Valley Fair and Santana Row?

    • I’m sorry, but the #1 thing wrong with San Jose is people like you that contribute nothing to the community.  I would urge you to move somewhere else, because you are nothing but a cancer upon San Joseans that actually enjoy living here and want to see the city prosper.

  5. I held off on commenting while waiting for people to address the issues raised by the council member because I had hoped that somebody besides me saw the obvious combination of half truth, errors and smoke screens.

    First of all, the city is not supply transportation to anybody.  VTA is our public transit operator and through our award winning Outreach program, individuals who qualify are entitled to arrange for door to door service.  Qualification for the program implies you cannot drive and are not served well by the base transit system.  These operations are heavily subsidized by grants from State and Federal sources.  While lifeline services like this are expensive, they are in some degree mandatory.  And I will point out that our program is held up as a model of providing services for seniors and disabled beyond the minimum requirements.  And I repeat:  The City of San Jose does not pay for this.

    Providing people with a gift certificate for a meal at a restaurant still doesn’t get them there.

    Second, if people who qualify for Outreach service need to go to the doctor, want to attend a meeting or go to a library, they can do so using these services.  I will repeat once more: This is a service provided by VTA/Outreach, not the City of San Jose.

    If Mr. Oliverio hasn’t a basic understanding of how the transit/transportation system works and is only trying to do what he normally does which is poke and anthill, watch the activity and claim he’s doing something.

    If he is truly interested in seeing a solution to problems, his office would be working on getting safe passage to transit for a senior facility in his district instead of leaving that to a fellow council member.  If he was interested in seeing alternatives to our existing program, he would at least learn what the existing program did.  If he was interested in seeing our youth freely to/from libraries and community centers, he would also be more supportive of opening new facilities that are adjacent to transit.

    Sadly he’s not.  He’s more interested in implying the city funds the transportation of our seniors and disabled, along with lunch programs and creating an “us vs them” scenario (because after all, how dare we spend that money on them?) than he is about actually outlining real issues or outlining real proposals that would ensure our public money is spent well.

    • While supposedly near “Fiscal Emergency” our politicians decided that library services were equally important to public safety, water treatment and other essential services.  The County has libraries, as does the State and nearly every school… It’s a complete duplication of NON-essential services.

      Public safety has been decimated while PO talks big and does nothing (well, he does trim roses I guess).  Time to take the power away from the faux fiscal conservatives.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *