Santa Clara Valley Transportation Authority (VTA) is planning to cut major bus routes because of budget cuts including Route 65, Route 83, overnight Route 22, Express 101, Express 122, Express 182 and Express 185.
On Tuesday, public relations junior and Transportation Solutions student assistant Monica Mallon organized a public meeting with VTA about its upcoming changes at Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Library.
“I feel like people didn’t have the opportunity to share their thoughts [about this new plan],” said Mallon. “All this service is getting cut, Route 65, which a few hundred students take every day, and then the Almaden service, the overnight [Route] 22 which is very important for people to stay warm in cold weather like this.”
The goal of the meeting wasn’t to make any changes, but rather to have a platform for VTA to hear the public’s opinions about its decision.
“I understand [VTA is] in a very difficult situation,” said Mallon. “I hope that they will listen to people and consider saving some of the routes that people depend on. I know it’s very unlikely.”
Civil engineering junior Soozy Zerbe attended the first part of the meeting and
“This meeting is two hours long, and you can’t speak until an hour into the meeting,” said Zerbe. “Most of the commuter students are in class right now, because they have class from early in the morning to late in the afternoon, and then they take the bus home.”
Zerbe came to the meeting in between her classes and had to rush to another class before she could speak up against the new plan.
“This meeting [might seem] like it’s accessible and convenient for students, but it’s not. It’s convenient for VTA, and there are no public comments allowed,” said Zerbe.
The new route will affect William George, a volunteer in King Library’s Beethoven Center, and his commute.
“I’m riding the VTA bus usually three days a week. So that’s six to eight trips on a bus ride here,” said George. “If [Route] 65 is eliminated, I will then have to walk [more than] a mile to [Route] 63.”
George attended both VTA meetings discussing the same plan at Cambrian Branch Library and King Library and heard similar responses.
“The attendees are overwhelmingly against the plan for high ridership,” said George. “They are concerned and really want to have the [bus route] coverage.”
De Anza College student Marshall Woodmansee was also concerned about the new plan.
“It’s very disheartening to see what they’re doing here. I’m very skeptical that this is going to increase ridership. I don’t think it will,” said Woodmansee.
He also wished the VTA took more input from the public. The ad hoc financial stability committee were the primary input in helping VTA make those decisions.
“They came up with a lot of great things,” said Woodmansee. “One of them was service changes, one of them was increased fares, which is terrible, but a lot of other things were finding more funding sources and the future of VTA. I wish they were talking about that now.”
Charlie Faas, vice president for administration and finance has been in private meetings with VTA to have student’s voices heard.
“Boy does it hurt our students right in their pocketbooks,” said Faas.
According to Faas, BART now has a route from Fremont to Warm Springs, which means students will have to get off at one stop, and take the bus from Warm Springs to campus.
“That’s like $5 each way, that’s every day you’re commuting,” said Faas. “That’s out of your pocket – that’s a big impact to a substantial number of our students.”
The new changes are still being drafted and the final day to submit public comments on the http://newtransitplan.vta.org/ website is Feb. 28.
The preparation for the implementation of the plan will be from May to October.