This posting has several sections that will be of interest to you.
- What each of us needs to do right now!
- Current Timeline for ANY changes to VTA 120
- Background on why VTA wants to drop VTA 120 (and 180, 181 & 140)
- Insights on the future demise of ECO Passes
- What you can do to help.
What each of us needs to do right now.
- Respond individually.
- Urge your company Transportation Coordinator to represent your company.
- Understand VTA's problem and financial pressures.
Alex Shoor, VTA outreach person, sent me email stating:
A reminder that this is a draft plan. The last time VTA went through a major redesign of its transit system, we made over 50 changes from the first draft of the plan to the final, adopted one. So your feedback is very important to us. We are now starting to compile and analyze the hundreds of comments we have received so far.Even though I will attempt to present your many comments and our petition, there is no substitute for your individual comment. Please send VTA your comments by clicking the link below and starting off with "VTA 120 Rider - ... <Fill in your comment>". Remember, VTA wants to force the migration to BART/Light rail. Please explain whether that would work for you and what your alternatives are.
- Add public comment to VTA's current blog about proposals (requires social media login)
- Email VTA directly ( firstname.lastname@example.org)
- Complete form on bottom of page: http://nextnetwork.vta.org/.
Next, Please urge your company's Transportation Coordinator to attend these public workshop/meetings to discuss your company's needs and discuss financial arrangements in light of VTA's desire to discontinue Eco passes for corporations.
Finally, be aware of the issues raised and what is behind VTA's reasoning. Possibly give input & ideas about financing the costs of these routes.
Current Timeline for ANY changes to VTA 120The whole future of VTA 120 is dependent on what happens with BART. Up until today we were believing the reports that Feb 28th would be when Warm Springs BART would open, and the first change for VTA120 would occur. (Not the cancellation, but adding the Warm Springs station as a 120 stop and a possible change of some of the stops along Mission Blvd.) But the latest news is that BART is pushing that out a bit further
Matier & Ross article from SF Chronicle Click here.
Background on why VTA wants to drop VTA 120 (and 180, 181 & 140)Just got this from VTA (Came from "Senior Transportation Planners"):
We understand Andrew’s desire to continue Route 120. We’ve been checking the Blogspot page and have read the survey results. We have also had conversations with Carrie Haywood of the Moffett Park TMA who, like Andrew, has asked that VTA continue service on Route 120. The proposal to discontinue service on this route is not based on any ridership metrics, but rather on the extension of BART service to Santa Clara County. The operation of VTA Routes 120, 140, 180 and 181 to Fremont BART has always been a temporary solution to connect Santa Clara County with BART. Once BART comes to Milpitas and Berryessa Stations, VTA will no longer be able to justify operating transit in Alameda County. 120 riders would be able to make their same trips in the proposed network, but it would require taking BART or AC Transit Route 217 into Santa Clara County and then transferring to a VTA route which would likely take longer and cost more.
The challenges that Andrew and the other 120 riders face are county borders and the political prerogative to spend locally-collected funds in the jurisdiction of origin. The incentive for counties to only spend money on transit within their borders goes against natural travel patterns and creates arbitrary barriers to transit usage. SPUR has written an excellent report addressing this problem called Seamless Transit, which advocates for inter-county coordination. The good news is that there is precedent for transit that crosses county lines. VTA jointly funds the Highway 17 bus which travels between Santa Cruz County and Downtown San Jose with the Santa Cruz Metropolitan Transit District. This type of coordination, of course, requires two willing partners so AC Transit would have to agree to such an arrangement for a 120-like route. It would also have to be approved by VTA’s Board of Directors. Those are steep hills to climb, and not likely something that can be incorporated in the current VTA redesign process. However, in my opinion, it is the most likely-to-occur solution to restore a Fremont-to-North Bayshore service.
We feel for the 120 riders and I would recommend that Andrew encourage regional coordination when submitting comments to VTA as part of our public outreach process as well as with AC Transit. Leaning on the SPUR report and the survey data he’s collected will strengthen their case. Our service planning team will reach out to AC Transit to see if there is mutual interest. We will let Andrew and Carrie know what we hear. At tonight’s VTA Board Meeting, (70 W Hedding, San Jose and live-streamed from vta.org) VTA staff will give an update on the feedback that we have heard through the first month of public outreach. Comments from Fremont riders will be part of that update.
That kinda says it all... Not sure where to go with this... i.e. actionable plan. I do think we should try to understand how receptive VTA and our employers would be toward re-evaluating the financials of this... I.e.... How much money would be required to keep some number of 120 routes in-place. And, whether there are any other payment-structures that could make it sustainable. For instance, employers change from Eco pass to supplemented Clipper with Wageworks integration or even outright sponsorship of some number of runs. Employers need to realize the costs of pushing these many riders back out into daily traffic. Also, employers need to be reminded and exercise their responsibility to require a certain number of services for their tax dollars to the county. It is not like our employers are not bringing significant benefit and dollars to the county through their presence.
Insights on the future demise of ECO Passes
It appears that Eco Passes for companies may be eliminated.
The full transportation report (link here). around page 225 states:
Eco Pass fares
VTA’s Eco Pass fares were established with twin goals of increasing ridership by providing more access and generating revenues equal to the average adult fare per boarding. The program has been well utilized; however, the average fare per boarding has consistently lagged the average adult fare per boarding. The pricing structure is tiered and complex and has not been modified since inception in the 1990’s. As a result, the program has provided low cost transit access to employers, non-profits and universities/colleges. This raises questions of equity where individuals with low or moderate incomes who do not qualify for the Transit Assistance Program (TAP) pay a full fare; whereas, businesses who can afford to pay more are charged a significantly lower fare. Staff plans to review the Eco Pass program and assess the pricing as well as splitting the program into more logical components such as a College Pass program, a separate program for non-profits and perhaps migration of employers to the regional Clipper® Direct program that enables employers and employees to use pre-tax transit benefits.
It may be a good idea to begin discussion with your company and the transportation coordinator how important any kind of subsidized transportation is to you so that they can properly budget and assess the importance of providing some kind of support to keep pace with trends in the valley like Google buses and other employers. This is increasingly important as the congestion on our roadways and lost productivity due to commuting impact the quality and quantity of employee contributions to their company's success.
What you can do to help
- Make sure everyone around you has joined the maillist & completed the survey.
- Send in additional comments to VTA (link above)
- Urge your company TC to attend the VTA meetings and represent your company with determination.
- Possibly attend one of the upcoming meetings (I'll be attending Feb 6, though it appears that shear numbers of participants with similar interests does not necessarily contribute to the desired response, though everyone is invited.)
- If anyone can help me with enlarging some of the survey result pie charts, for poster boards, that would be awesome. (May be unneeded, however as the communication from VTA already states they know how to grab the survey results dynamically.