Riders Drag VTA Online Over Merged Routes, Service Cuts

It looks like the Santa Clara Valley Transportation Authority (VTA) is getting people off public transit and back into their cars with recent changes to bus and light rail routes.

The new service plan—which the transit agency has branded as a way to shorten wait times and streamline connections—rolled out Dec. 28. But many riders are less than enthused about routes being been merged or cut entirely.

So, they began popping off on Twitter.

“@VTA the new light rail schedule is ridiculous,” Tyler Saunders tweeted. “I used to take 1 train from San Jose to [Mountain View] now it’s 2 different trains in the morning and a train [plus] bus in the evening. The rails didn’t move (I checked), so what gives?”

Saunders’ commute has been upped from 45 minutes to an hour and 10 minutes, according to his subsequent posts. “It’s now faster for me to ride my bike the 12 miles to the office than to take the train,” he quipped in another update.

Monica Mallon, a vocal transit advocate, says she’s equally as frustrated by the changes, especially after voting for Measure B—a 30-year, half-cent countywide sales tax for transportation-related projects—in 2016.

“Now I have fewer transit options than I did before,” she remarked in an interview with Fly. “My commute now requires a transfer, and parts of the county that I need to go to are completely cut off from transit.”

A spokeswoman for VTA didn’t return Fly’s request for comment by press time, but it seems the agency’s customer service account has been busy trying to help riders find new lines. The mysterious tweeter behind the account also took the time to address one particularly troubling inquiring about a potentially unscheduled detour.

“@vtaservice is it normal for the bus driver to park the bus, get off and buy McDonald’s during the middle of the route?” Ryan Globus tweeted.

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The Fly is a weekly column written by San Jose Inside staff that provides a behind-the-scenes look at local politics.

33 Comments

  1. If you ask a bus driver /train operator what they think of this “ new service plan! Personally o would give it 3 ??????…as far as the stops in the middle of the route…I will be making even more as VTA has placed outhouses for operators to use which are broken into constantly and are unsanitary. I took will be pulling out my bike from its locker and not taking transit …

    • Shonna, as someone who is likely older than you with eyes to match, I understand errors due to not being able to read things I wrote on my phone. While I hate all things Light Rail and BART, while supporting buses, I suggest you repost your comment, as I profit from reading comments that counter the narrative, and I think you can offer all of us some insight.

      • if i can shed some light on what shonna was speaking on…

        the problem with bus routes is that it’s not taken into consideration whether or not there are options for the driver to use the restroom and/or get food. for example, the old 58 line went from alviso to west valley college. there are not food options at either ends of the line. there is 1 mexican restaurant in alviso and if it’s open, it’s a 5 minute walk to get to it. but if it’s not open, not only the driver can’t get food but the driver will need to wait until they get back to west valley college… and when the ere are no options, we stop in the middle of the route.

        now throw in the driver shortage, that’s been going on for over a year, many drivers are working overtime extending their already long day. often, they eat their food they brought for the day, but picked up some extra work on a route with little or no options at both ends of the route. a driver’s conundrum.

    • Ask the Chair of VTA, the most incompetent public official in the county who supported the demolition of an historic home in favor of six townhouses while opposing devolpment in her backyard.

  2. What a testament to idiocy. Wow, Teresa ONeill leads a public transit agency that stresses car use. Sorry ONeill, the 49ers did not do it.

  3. By the way, have you all seen these moronic television ads about some guy giving a speech about society. What person taking too much hemp oil designed this stuff? Seriously. I could see AOC on tv talking about mass transit and climate change. At least it would make sense instead of some unemployed poet rambling about moving in our society.

  4. Hi! It’s me “the spokeswoman for VTA [who] didn’t return Fly’s request for comment by press time”. I’ve been pretty responsive and don’t recall being contacted by a Fly. Nevertheless, here’s what I would have told you given the opportunity:

    We knew going into this new service plan was not going to be an easy change for some. We spent 18 months out in the community talking about the tradeoffs of having a transit network that emphasizes frequency versus a network that emphasizes coverage. We went from having 30% of our service dedicated to coverage routes that experienced very low ridership to 10%. Now, 90% of our resources are focused on the frequency goal – one that the VTA Board prioritized in order to increase ridership and make transit more attractive to those who would prefer to walk further to a bus stop that sees more buses more often.

    Social media has been a good platform for people to share concerns and complaints about the service changes. By the looks of the article, I can assume that is where you are seeing most of the frustration. Or have you had a chance to actually speak with riders too?

    We are hearing feedback from various channels: our customer service call center (phone and emails), our street team, and social media. That said, we are also hearing from customers who are happy with the changes. Our street team ambassadors have been talking with people in person since December 18th and customers appreciate the significant improvements that have been made to all-day frequency where the most people take transit.

    We understand that change is frustrating and we are here to help people navigate them and find alternative trip plans. We have been attentive and responsive to customer feedback and are documenting everything for the record. We are giving this new service plan time to settle in and customers a chance to adjust before we consider making any major changes.

    • Another SUV owner telling us about mass transit. You sure that Kellyanne Conway did not write this?

    • 18 months talking to the “community”? Umm, how about getting feedback from those who have DRIVEN the buses/routes for years and YEARS?? Or feedback from regulars who have taken/depend on the “low ridership” routes like the 45 for years and years?? VTA has left VETS and elderly literally SCREWED by taking that line away. A line that was already saved once due to the communities outcry. Now….GONE. (Heard it through the grapevine that local news stations will be made aware.)

      I can go on and on and ON. They (VTA) don’t care because it doesn’t personally affect them. The ones who suffer by horrible massive changes like these are the operators and the passengers.

      • Couldnt agree more. Makes no sense why downtown & north SJ residents have to now transfer at least 1x to get to Mtn View or east SJ. Also the 1 bus route (66) that went along a majority of North 1st St has been moved over east 10 blocks for some reason. So much for encouraging people that live &/or work dwtn to take public transportation. & dont even get me started on the Eastridge transit center that has near 0 shade & only 1 pedestrian crosswalk on the far end instead of in the middle. This is what happens when people in a bubble are in charge of public policy. Epic Fail.

    • We all know what outreach means from the government. First, someone raises a point or exception, you shout them down as problematic, racist, sexist. If that does work you rewrite the policy, punishing those who raise the exception or potential unintended consequences.

      Do not trust these progressives from the government trying to help the most vulnerable. They think poor are helpless and they hate the rich. They are motivated by the need to feel good about themselves and justify their choices, not actually implement things that are useful. They give what they think is best for you.

      Buses work, light rail, high speed rail, and BART do not. Stop pouring money into things that don’t work and focus energy, money, resources on things that do.

      • SJ KULAK, light rail may not work for you, but it certainly works for others. If you are going from Chynoweth to Milpitas and then to Alum Rock, you can take just one light rail train (unless they cancel it). Period. Do you have any idea how many buses you would have to take to do that same route and how long you’d have to wait at each transfer location. Speak for what doesn’t!5 work for YOU, but don’t say what’s best overall for others.

        • having a bus make that run would have saved billions, the following article claims that by 2012 it had cost 2B, or 66m a mile. I doubt that, but it was the only source I would waste time finding.

          https://www.mercurynews.com/2012/12/26/25-years-later-vta-light-rail-among-the-nations-worst/

          the average daily boardings are 27300 (2018q3) for a population of 1,937,570 in Santa Clara, or 1.4% of the Santa Clara population use light rail.

          So I think you should say, just because light rail works for my convoluted commute, it doesn’t work for 99% of the rest of the population. And according to the Merc article, taxpayers subsidise each trip to the tune of $10 each boarding. You’re welcome by the way.

    • Well, Brandi aka @VTA spokesperson, I have been an avid rider of the VTA buses and VTA light rail….until your changes. We actually began using light rail when it was first built. You (VTA) ended a line we used to take frequently to south SJ past Oakridge. That line serviced high schoolers, seniors, apartment dwellers, home owners, shoppers and workers at Oakridge Mall, workers at Home Depot and the shopping centers around that area, but now VTA’s decision has caused us to have to start driving our cars now and not buy into the hype of SJ wanting us to get out of our cars and take public transit. I had been on that line along Oakridge twice the week of the change from your company. Both the light rail security guy and I were excited when reading your colorful announcement of more schedules. Little did we know it was going to be CANCELLED!! Excellent decision by VTA to cancel that leg of VTA and get back into our gas-guzzling cars. We have met great people at the gas stations now while pumping gas.

  5. > Monica Mallon, a vocal transit advocate, says she’s equally as frustrated by the changes, especially after voting for Measure B—a 30-year, half-cent countywide sales tax for transportation-related projects—in 2016.

    > “Now I have fewer transit options than I did before,” she remarked in an interview with Fly. “

    From the mouths of babes.

    Actually, I’ve never seen Monica. I don’t really know if she’s a babe or not.

    • If Monica is the person I think she is, she has been a very vocal advocate for VTA (transit) and, no, she isn’t paid by them. She has spoken at City Council meetings.

    • Nos sympathy for anyone who voted for a tax increase and thought it would help in any way or solve any real world issues. All the tax increases do is help cover unfunded pension liabilities and add new union members to the payroll.

      We pay the highest taxes, have the worst roads, highest homelessness, trash covered freeways, etc.

      Were are the results and accountability. Until voters behave differently, our elected politicians will not change their behavior either.

      Want more of the same, vote the same.

  6. the didn’t have to cut the almaden LR line. they could’ve extended it to mountain view transit center during peak times – off peak times could end DTSJ.

    • yes vta did have to cut the Almaden line light rail was horribly underused as the light rail line was a only a massively inconvenient spur of the main light rail line of Santa teresa along highway 87. Almaden light rail also only had 1 track. the closing demonstrated the severity of incompetence at vta, the first light rail line to close in around 20 years in the USA (not a station closing, but a full line of stations). the closing marked the needed end to an enormous waste of taxpayer money, a financial tumor of the larger cancer that is VTA governance. Oakridge Mall and Blossom Hill Road should have been directly served by the Santa Teresa line instead of a technically complicated single track spur that required transfer

      • it wasn’t horribly underused. it was underused but it wasn’t horrible. they could’ve made it perform better if they extended it as i mentioned above. but in order to do that, the need more drivers. which they don’t have.

  7. Anybody know where I could get some bumperstickers made?

    “The VTA…
    Took my bus away”

    Good luck this fall when they come asking the people along my old route to pay more taxes for NO service.

      • yes vta did have to cut the Almaden line light rail was horribly underused as the light rail line was a only a massively inconvenient spur of the main light rail line of Santa teresa along highway 87. Almaden light rail also only had 1 track. the closing demonstrated the severity of incompetence at vta, the first light rail line to close in around 20 years in the USA (not a station closing, but a full line of stations). the closing marked the needed end to an enormous waste of taxpayer money, a financial tumor of the larger cancer that is VTA governance. Oakridge Mall and Blossom Hill Road should have been directly served by the Santa Teresa line instead of a technically complicated single track spur that required transfer

    • Oooohhhh, I DARE VTA try to come along and try to ask for more money!!

      What happens to the added money I just put on my Clipper card to take me on the Chynoweth to Almaden light rail that has been CANCELLED?? Am I forced to take the VTA light rail downtown to get a credit?

      • VTA does need to ask you for money, they take regardless. Every ride on light costs, operationally, over $11. So they take $10 from you everytime some one boards a car.

    • > Good luck this fall when they come asking the people along my old route to pay more taxes for NO service.

      Too late.

      It’s already been done, and they’ve already got the money.

      Just TRY getting it back. We dare you.

    • Lets just double the fair and property taxes to make up for the real cost of running an obsolete socialist concept.

  8. My 2 year old misses taking the 65 to and from her daycare. I miss having the option of getting my toddler and infant home after dark by bus instead of walking. Requiring transit dependent people like myself to walk even farther to make connections is stressful. The death toll for pedestrians in San Jose keeps on rising. I feel less secure with my new commutes more than ever before. Since the service changes I have only been on hold with customer service and have yet to talk to a representative. The trip planner on VTA’s website and 3rd party apps like transit are working with incomplete information. They don’t utilize all the stops and offer confusing and longer routes because of the lack of complete information. If I could drive I would have started in the fall after all the driver shortages and missed buses made me a less reliable employee. There is a big disconnect with who uses transit and how it is used verses how VTA plans for people to use their abbreviated system.

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