By Robert Haugh
We’ve written a little about the Santa Clara Valley Transportation Authority (VTA) recently. The Santa Clara County Civil Grand Jury earlier this summer bodyslammed VTA for being the worst transportation agency in the nation.
Since then, we’ve been getting a lot of info from current and former VTA employees about how VTA operates. Most of the info is not flattering.
Here’s an interesting story that a few people have pointed out.
San Jose Spotlight has written a couple of stories about Bus Route 65. They’ve focused on the riders who rely on the route to get to school and work.
That’s an important story. A lot of people need public transit in our community.
But they’ve missed other important stories, like VTA’s weak numbers and its lousy promotion campaigns.
In the Zialcita tory, the ridership numbers are pointed out. Bus Route 65, had 468 daily riders from June to July 2018. That’s total boardings per day. So one person riding to and from work equals two daily riders. That’s not good.
But the VTA promotion of the route is worse. VTA spent $100,000 in June and July 2019. Guess what? Ridership fell to 380 daily trips.
Yup. That was after VTA spent $100,000.
But here’s what’s really bad. Bus Route 65 is just the tip of the iceberg. Here’s info from a VTA memo an employee sent us:
While VTA’s bus network is experiencing declining ridership systemwide, Route 65’s ridership is declining at a faster rate. While systemwide bus ridership (boardings) fell 15% from 2016 to today, Route 65 ridership fell 20% over the same period.
So there are a lot of other VTA bus routes that have declining ridership just like Bus Route 65.
No wonder the Grand Jury wrote a terrible report about VTA. Both the bus and light rail systems are in decline. And VTA’s expenses have gone way up in the last 10 years as this chart shows:
VTA needs to figure out how to increase riders or cut costs. But it doesn’t seem to know how to do either. So they’ll probably just go to the ballot for more tax money. Let’s hope voters read the Grand Jury report before they vote to put more money into a black hole.