Santa Clara Valley Transportation Authority

Board Action
6839

2019 New Transit Service Plan

Information

Department:Dept - Transportation PlanningSponsors:Director - Planning & Programming Chris Augenstein, Chief Operating Officer Inez Evans
Category:Planning Documents

Financial Impact

If the final plan is implemented as presented, the updated service levels and VTA ridership impacts discussed above are anticipated to result in annual net savings of $14.7M versus the cost of the original Next Network plan.

Item Discussion

BACKGROUND:

At its December 2018 meeting, the VTA Board directed staff to revise the 2017 Next Network transit service plan based on recommendations from the Ad Hoc Financial Stability Committee. Per VTA's Transit Service Guidelines and the Title VI Major Service Change policy, all major service changes must be developed as part of a comprehensive service plan development process.  This process must include engagement with the community, an analysis of ADA paratransit impacts, a CEQA environmental analysis, and a Title VI service equity analysis.

Working within a very short timeline to develop and implement a new service plan to coincide with the expected opening of BART service at Milpitas and Berryessa, the process needed to move very quickly with no margin for delay. As a first step, staff immediately developed a draft service plan that was presented to the Board and discussed with the community throughout January and February 2019. Following further analysis, extensive engagement and input from the community, an analysis of ADA paratransit impacts, a CEQA environmental analysis, and a Title VI service equity analysis, staff has revised the draft plan into this final recommended service plan, called the 2019 New Transit Service Plan.

DISCUSSION:

This 2019 New Transit Service Plan is a modification of the Board-adopted 2017 Next Network transit service plan. In addition to the plan’s original goals of better connecting VTA transit with the Milpitas and Berryessa BART stations, increasing overall system ridership, and improving VTA's farebox recovery rate, this new plan adds three new parameters set by the Board of Directors:

  1. Reduce the plan’s overall service level equal to today’s service level (the Next Network plan would have incurred a $14.7M increase in annual net operating costs over today).
  2. Adjust the network’s ridership/coverage balance to 90% ridership and 10% coverage.
  3. Minimize service cuts in South County.

As with the draft version, the final plan presented here meets all three of these new parameters.

Community Engagement

During January and February, staff conducted an extensive community engagement effort to gather feedback on the draft plan. The effort included:

·         Six VTA-hosted community meetings

·         YouTube live virtual meeting, subsequently available as a recorded webinar

·         Presentations at 26 community-hosted public and organization meetings (Attachment A)

·         vta.org blog posts on hot topics, each with commentary discussion

·         Email blasts to transit subscribers

·         Multilingual flyers onboard buses and trains

·         Multilingual advertisements in local publications (Viet Nam Daily, Philippines Today, Sing Tao, Korea 24 News Media, El Observador, San Jose Mercury News)

·         A multilingual dedicated website for details on the plan and for feedback submission

The engagement effort was considerably accelerated due to the short timeline of the project but was a big success as staff were able to engage with thousands of riders and residents to hear their concerns and ideas. Staff received 1,520 comments and suggestions via email and from direct in-person conversations, 6,400 engagements on Twitter, 1,500 engagements on Facebook, 50 engagements on LinkedIn, 130 engagements on Nextdoor, 1,200 engagements on Instagram, and several thousand views of vta.org features on the plan. In addition, VTA received official letters from the Cambrian Community Council, the Cupertino Union School District, the Fremont Unified School District, the City of Los Altos, the City of Morgan Hill, the City of Palo Alto, the Veterans Administration, and the City of Saratoga & West Valley College (see Attachment H). The feedback was helpful to staff to better understand the community’s concerns.

The feedback spanned a range of topics related to the proposed changes, but as expected was comprised overwhelmingly of objections to proposed cuts on some routes. The overwhelming majority of all the comments received can be grouped into five topical areas:

  1. The proposed discontinuation of Route 22 trips between 1 and 4 am
  1. The proposed shortening of the Blue Line from Alum Rock to Baypointe Station
  2. The proposed discontinuation of Route 83 in Almaden Valley
  3. The proposed reduction in service across VTA’s Express Bus network
  4. The proposed discontinuation of Route 65 (Leigh Avenue)

The feedback was used to revise the draft plan to create this final plan. Even though the majority of feedback took the form of requests to keep and/or improve service (i.e. additional service which would increase the total network cost), staff was able to use the feedback to make a set of revisions that would greatly improve the draft plan but not increase its overall network cost.

Changes from the Draft Plan

The original Next Network transit service plan was used as the baseline for the draft and final versions of this plan, and as such, this plan is presented by prescribing changes as compared to the original Next Network plan. While service cuts are always difficult because the loss of transit service impacts real riders, staff focused cuts on the lowest ridership services in the network to minimize the impact to riders and maintain as much of the Next Network’s projected ridership increase as possible.

A map of the final plan’s complete transit network is included as Attachment B. This final service plan includes seven changes as compared to the draft plan:

  1. Continue to provide Route 22 overnight service. The final plan would continue overnight service on Route 22 between 1 and 4 am as offered today (one trip per hour in each direction). Originally proposed to be discontinued in the draft plan due to low ridership (200-220 total daily boardings across all six trips) and high costs ($500,000 annually), subsequent analysis has revealed a significant number of riders on these overnight trips use the service for mobility purposes unrelated to a need for shelter. While the plan would continue to offer the overnight service, VTA staff will continue collaborating with social service groups to identify short, mid, and long-term alternative solutions for unhoused riders on these trips, a task force process initiated by VTA following the draft plan’s proposal to discontinue these overnight trips. There is broad consensus that Route 22 is not an ideal overnight housing solution, and staff will continue discussions with the social service task force partners to develop more appropriate shelter solutions.
  1. Maintain VTA’s current Express Bus network unchanged through the end of 2019 (excluding the four Fremont BART routes), then transition to a third-party partnership model for long-distance commute service in early 2020. The adopted Next Network plan includes a continuation of VTA’s nine Express Bus routes that serve long-distance commuters. Given the direction to trim $15 million annually from the Next Network’s total service level, the draft plan proposed to reduce the Express Bus program’s cost by approximately $2.5 million, due to their low ridership and high cost per rider (over $30/rider, compared to $7 for core routes). The reductions proposed in the draft plan included the discontinuation of four routes:

·         Express 101 (Camden & Hwy 85 – Stanford Research Park)

·         Express 122 (South San Jose – Lockheed Martin)

·         Express 182 (Palo Alto – IBM/Bailey Ave)

·         Express 185 (South County – Mountain View)

The reductions proposed in the draft plan would have also included reductions in the number of trips on four of the remaining five routes:

·         Express 102 (South San Jose – Stanford Research Park)

·         Express 103 (Eastridge – Stanford Research Park)

·         Express 121 (South County – Lockheed Martin)

·         Express 168 (South County – San Jose Diridon Station)

However, this final plan defers all the draft plan’s proposed cuts until staff implements a new Express Bus program model in early 2020. Staff is currently studying the Express Bus program and collaborating with employer partners with the goal of transitioning these routes to a new service model that includes third-party funding partnerships in order to offset their high cost, bring the routes into compliance with VTA performance standards (such as VTA’s Board-adopted farebox recovery goal of 20-25%), and achieve a net annual cost reduction of $2.5 million as proposed in the draft plan. VTA will transition to this new service model in early 2020, shortly after the implementation of this service plan. In the meantime, this final plan proposes no changes to VTA’s current Express Bus network, aside from the longstanding plan to discontinue the four Express Bus routes that serve Fremont and Warm Springs BART stations as adopted in the Next Network (routes 120, 140, 180, 181). This plan assumes the transition to the new partnership model shortly thereafter in order to reduce VTA’s net cost. The deferment of Express Bus changes also respects the financial contributions that VTA’s employer partners have made to the SmartPass Express Bus program through the end of 2018, with an understanding that service would remain unchanged.

  1. Modify southern end of Route 42 to provide new service to the VA Clinic, the Mexican Consulate, Carrington College, Northeastern University, and the San Andreas Regional Center. The Next Network plan proposed a change to Route 42 to serve Cottle Road and Raleigh Road near Santa Teresa Station. Instead, Route 42 will serve Silver Creek Valley Road, Hellyer Avenue, Silicon Valley Boulevard, Bernal Road, and San Ignacio Avenue (see map in Attachment D). During the draft plan’s outreach period, staff received numerous requests for new service for the VA clinic, the consulate, the colleges, and the San Andreas center. This change would forego providing new service along Cottle Road and Raleigh Road, areas which are already within a half-mile to light rail service and to frequent service that would remain on Cottle Road, and instead would serve these regional community-oriented destinations.
  2. Consolidate the segment of Route 63 south of Diridon Station into Route 64 so that Route 64 has two distinct “branches” of service south of Diridon, serving the same areas as originally proposed plus an area of Almaden Valley. This service improvement stemmed from suggestions made by Almaden Valley community members. As shown in the map in Attachment C, the new Route 64 will provide the same service as originally planned east of Diridon (along Julian and McKee), but south of Diridon:

·         Route 64a will serve Bird, Lincoln, Almaden Expressway, Almaden Station, Oakridge Station, and Ohlone/Chynoweth Station.

·         Route 64b will serve Race, Meridian, and will be extended further south to Almaden Expressway and Camden, adding more service to Almaden Valley.

  1. Restructure service in Almaden Valley. In addition to the above item, instead of operating Route 64 south of Almaden Station to Camden as originally proposed, the final plan would use Route 64 service in place of the Almaden spur light rail (also illustrated in Attachment C). This would free up resources to put into keeping Route 83 in Almaden Valley, instead of discontinuing it. Route 83’s service level would match what was adopted in the Next Network plan (hourly service on weekdays).
  2. Defer the draft plan’s proposal for early morning and evening frequency improvements on Rapid 522 (delayed for future implementation when demand warrants). The draft proposal included improvements to early morning and evening frequency on Rapid 522 (from every 20 minutes to every 15 minutes). The final plan does not include these improvements. Current service levels have been determined to be adequate, so staff recommends these improvements be deferred for future implementation when demand along the corridor increases and resources permit.
  3. Improve midday frequency on Route 66 north of Milpitas BART to every 15 minutes. This change would complete the northern parts of VTA’s Frequent Network in Milpitas and would offer an additional frequent transit connection to BART service. The Next Network plan had 30-minute midday service (between 9:30 am and 3:30 pm on weekdays) on Route 66; this final plan would improve midday frequency to every 15 minutes, which would make the route frequent all day on weekdays.

The changes above represent the changes from the draft plan to the final plan; all other elements of the draft plan remain part of this final plan. For reference, a complete list of all the changes from the original Next Network plan is included as Attachment E. Again, Attachment B shows a map of the final network in its entirety.

As described in the changes above, the final plan resolves three of the five most common feedback topics referenced earlier in the Community Engagement section. However, the draft plan’s proposals to shorten the Blue Line and to discontinue Route 65 remain unchanged in the final plan. Staff considered both topics at length and a full analysis for each is included as Attachment F.

Service Levels

As shown in Table 1, the final plan includes approximately 1.5M annual hours of bus service and 171K annual hours of rail service, which is 125,000 fewer hours of service than adopted in the original Next Network plan.

Table 1: Summary of Revised Plan Service Level

 

              Original              Draft              Final              % Reduction

              Next Network Plan              Plan              Plan              from Original Plan

Annual Hours (Bus)              1,601,000              1,499,713              1,497,723              – 6.5%

Annual Hours (Rail)              192,000              171,081              171,081              – 10.9%

 

Ridership Impact

The reduction in service from the Next Network will have a projected negative impact on VTA forecasted transit ridership, as well as ridership on BART trains in Santa Clara County. At the same time, the transition to a 90/10 ridership/coverage network through additional investments in VTA’s Frequent Network will have a positive impact on ridership that will offset some of the losses. Table 2 provides a planning-level estimate of the final plan’s net change in ridership as compared to the original Next Network plan and estimated ridership if VTA kept operating the current network into the future (“Future Year Ridership with Current Network”). Note the ridership estimates do not include any impact related to the transition of VTA’s Express Bus to a private partnership program that will occur separately in early 2020.

Table 2: Estimated Impact on VTA Transit Ridership

              Annual Boardings

Year 2018 Ridership, For Reference              36,121,406

 

Future Year Ridership with Current Network              35,259,670

Original Next Network Ridership              37,841,000

 

Impact of Light Rail Reductions              – 681,000

Impact of Bus Reductions              – 217,000

Impact of Bus Improvements              + 669,000

Net Impact              – 229,000               (–0.6% from original plan)

 

2019 Transit Service Plan Ridership (after 24 mo.)              37,612,000              (+7% over current network)

 

As shown above, staff projects the plan will increase transit ridership by 7% over the current network. As with all major transit service redesigns, these ridership improvements will occur gradually over the 18-24 months following the first day of service. Under VTA’s new Transit Performance Monitoring Program, staff will closely monitor the transit network following implementation and conduct regular reporting to VTA’s committees and the Board. Due to the introduction of BART service and its significant impact on travel behaviors, staff expect some routes to overperform expectations and others to underperform. The performance monitoring program will include regular staff service change recommendations to continually adjust service according to performance.

 

Analyses Conducted on the Final Plan

ADA Paratransit Analysis

VTA Access paratransit service provides curb-to-curb and door-to-door service for eligible individuals for trips made within ¾-mile of VTA’s fixed route transit network at the standard fare of $4. VTA also offers service for trips within a premium zone extending an additional mile beyond the ¾-mile standard zone, at a premium fare of $16. Paratransit service is offered on the same days and at the same times as the corresponding fixed route service. As such both zones follow the transit network, changes to the fixed route transit network can impact the geographical footprint of paratransit service. For example, the introduction of transit service to new areas would result in an expansion of the area eligible for paratransit service. Likewise, the elimination of transit service would result in a contraction of the area eligible for paratransit service.

VTA staff conducted a geographic analysis of the final plan to determine how it would impact the geographic footprint of paratransit service on weekdays. Because the final plan includes the elimination of just a single route in the middle of VTA’s transit network and the other route alignment changes are minor, the weekday daytime impacts remain identical to the Next Network plan. This plan would have no impact to the VTA Access overall paratransit service area for weekday daytime trips as compared to the adopted Next Network plan. However, there may be minor impacts to the geographic availability of service late at night and on weekends due to changes in the fixed route network’s service span (hours and days of operation for each route). For example, Route 52 currently provides service until 9:30 pm on weekdays, but would end at 9:00 pm in the plan; this reduction in 30 minutes of fixed route service would have a corresponding impact to VTA Access hours of service along that route.

Title VI Service Equity Analysis

Title VI of the 1964 Civil Rights Act states that agencies that receive federal funding may not discriminate on the basis of race, color, or national origin. Federal guidance encourages transit agencies to uphold Title VI in two ways: by involving Title VI communities in the planning process so that their input may inform decisions as early as possible, and a metric-based analysis that evaluates the impact to minority and low-income communities compared to the overall population of the service area. VTA’s Board-adopted Title VI Service Standards and Public Participation Plan outlines the process by which staff engage Title VI communities throughout the planning process to develop all major service changes, including a full Title VI Service Equity Analysis.

VTA engaged Title VI communities in the Next Network planning process by working with VTA’s Title VI office and following VTA’s Public Participation Plan. This included specific outreach to organizations that represent minority, low-income, and immigrant communities, and hosting community meetings throughout the county. Additionally, a multilingual project website and advertising campaign spread awareness of the plan.

A metric-based Service Equity Analysis for this final plan was conducted and found there would be no disparate impacts on minority residents or disproportionate burden on low-income residents as a result of the plan. The analysis evaluates the impact of the service changes in two ways: 1) Disproportionate Impact, which measures the impact to minority residents, and 2) Disproportionate Burden, which measures the impact to low-income residents. VTA’s Board-adopted threshold for determining Title VI impacts is 10 percent, meaning that a service change that decreases the provision of transit for minority or low-income residents at a rate of 10 percent or greater than for the average resident is presumed to be non-compliant with the mandates of Title VI. The full Title VI service equity analysis is included as Attachment G.

California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA)

Environmental Planning staff analyzed the plan and it was determined to be Categorically Exempt from CEQA under Section 15301(c) of the CEQA Guidelines.

Next Steps

Downtown San Jose Route 64 Refinement

Through the summer of 2019, VTA staff will conduct further analysis and collaborate with stakeholders to refine the exact alignment of Route 64 through downtown San Jose. The downtown portion of Route 64 will provide service between Diridon Station and Julian Street, originally proposed via San Fernando to 6th/7th streets, though staff will explore an alternative option via Santa Clara to 10th/11th streets to improve transit service downtown and give city staff additional flexibility in building a Better Bikeways corridor along San Fernando. The final alignment will be determined in the next few months following further analysis and discussion with the community and stakeholders.

Implementation

Upon adoption of the final service plan, VTA staff will begin the large task of turning a high-level service plan into service ready to hit the streets on day one of BART service in late 2019. This will involve an array of concurrent preparation activities, including:

·         Creating finely-tuned schedules for every transit route

·         Driver and customer service training

·         Development of a robust multilingual marketing campaign to inform riders and residents of the new transit network

·         Training of VTA staff to serve as ambassadors to assist riders in the field during the initiation of service

·         Design, print, and install new bus stop signage

·         Development of new passenger materials such as time guides and system map

·         Update transit schedule information on vta.org

Transit Performance Monitoring Program

After implementation, staff will monitor the new transit network and will make changes in a continuous cycle of iterative improvements. The Transit Performance Monitoring Program is a new VTA program to monitor transit performance continually, regularly report performance to the public through VTA’s Open Data portal, conduct quarterly performance discussions at VTA’s committees, then develop and implement service changes to iteratively improve the network. As such, VTA’s transit network will be continually adjusted, and all routes held to minimum performance standards, particularly the minimum standard of 15 boardings per hour, in order to justify their continued operation. The performance monitoring program, minimum standards, and the cycle of continual improvements are detailed in VTA’s Transit Service Guidelines, adopted by the Board of Directors in 2018.

Fast Transit Program

The 2019 New Transit Plan is a bold plan that would significantly increase VTA’s investment and service throughout the core frequent transit network in order to achieve the goal of faster, more frequent, and more reliable transit. However, the investment in better service is, by itself, insufficient to achieve this goal; the plan’s service investments are only a start. The success of the transit plan will also require bold action by VTA’s municipal partners to prioritize buses and trains over cars. Without action to speed up transit through true prioritization, transit will continue to suffer from its downward spiral: 

  1. Slower transit, which leads to…
  1. Increased cost of service, which leads to…
  2. Service cuts to balance the operating budget, which leads to…
  3. Fewer riders, who turn to driving more, which leads to…
  4. Increased congestion, which leads back to slower transit and the cycle continues…

The persistent downward trend in transit speeds has become an existential threat to the viability of transit service throughout Santa Clara County. Because VTA trains and buses spend more time stuck in congested travel lanes and more time waiting at red lights, the speed of service has fallen 20% over the last 30 years, and as a result VTA has had to cut 20% of service miles to maintain a balanced budget. In fact, VTA now operates less service than it did 30 years ago, in 1988, despite the county’s tremendous growth in jobs and population over the same period. The continuous cycle of transit service cuts and deeper reliance on cars will continue unless we adopt and implement policies that truly prioritize transit over cars.

Changing our course towards a more multimodal mobility future will not be easy because it will require us to make difficult tradeoffs such as retiming traffic signals to genuinely prioritize transit over cars, despite the county’s auto-oriented development patterns. Absent bold action with our municipal partners through the Fast Transit program, however, this plan will fail to achieve VTA’s goal of faster, more frequent, and more reliable transit.

ALTERNATIVES:

Alternatively, the Board could elect to not adopt this proposed service plan, in which case staff would implement the original Next Network transit service plan as adopted in 2017. However, implementing the service levels in the original Next Network transit service plan would not achieve the desired $14.7M net annual operating cost savings and would jeopardize VTA’s long-term financial stability.

The Board could also direct staff to make minor changes to this plan in the interim period before the start of service. However, direction to pursue any changes that could be considered “major” per VTA’s Transit Service Guidelines would require a full analysis and Title VI community outreach process, which could push implementation out beyond the start of BART service to Berryessa.

Body

ADVISORY COMMITTEE DISCUSSION:

 

The Technical Advisory Committee considered this item at their April 10, 2019 meeting and voted unanimously to recommend approval. Committee members expressed appreciation to staff for the robust community engagement process, expressed appreciation for proposing to maintain Route 22 overnight service, encouraged staff to consider additional frequent service between BART and downtown San Jose, expressed appreciation for Route 27 service at 30-minute frequency, expressed a desire for Route 27 to work with Los Gatos High's school schedule, expressed appreciation for the data-driven analysis and visualizations, and expressed a desire to engage during the development of the new Express Bus partnership program.

 

The Citizens Advisory Committee considered this item at their April 10, 2019 meeting and voted unanimously to recommend approval. Committee members engaged in a very robust discussion and asked several questions: 1) what are the walking, wait time, and transfer assumptions behind the "Jane" visualization tool, 2) what is VTA's definition of "major" service changes, 3) could capital improvements along the Alum Rock (Capitol Avenue) rail line be made in order to make a turnback just east of Milpitas Station possible? Staff replied: 1) the software assumes an average of half the frequency for initial wait times and the wait to transfer, plus an industry-average walking speed, 2) the definition of what makes any change major is specifically described in VTA's Transit Service Guidelines adopted in April 2018 but generally include anything that could be considered controversial, and 3) yes, as staff monitor demand on the new light rail network, we could explore the potential for an infrastructure improvement to make a turnback possible. The committee also expressed appreciation for keeping the Route 22 overnight trips, expressed a desire to engage on the development of the Express Bus partnership program's parameters, appreciated staff monitoring the Blue Line after BART opens, appreciate the intense public engagement efforts, expressed that the performance monitoring program should present ideas to improve speed and ridership, noted that the "Jane" visualizations would be smaller if she had limited mobility, appreciated the visuals to describe the plan, asked staff to keep thinking about the transfer experience, appreciated the increase in Route 68 service to South County, expressed a desire for an overall increase in the entire network's service level, appreciate restoring Route 13 (83) in Almaden, and expressed a vision where our Frequent Network offers service much more frequently, like every 5 minutes.

 

The Bicycle and Pedestrian Advisory Committee considered this item at their April 10, 2019 meeting and on a vote of 6 ayes and 7 noes, the committee did not reach a consensus on the recommendation to adopt the final 2019 New Transit Service Plan. Committee members asked several questions: 1) what kind of ridership activity will staff monitor at Milpitas BART, 2) who are the Express Bus program partners, 3) asked how long it takes ridership to materialize on such a plan, 4) and could there be some stated expectation of when the next major redesign would likely take place. Staff responded: 1) staff will monitor transfer activity at Baypointe between the Blue and Orange lines plus demand on Orange Line trains at Milpitas, 2) partners such as Stanford Research Park, Stanford University & Medical Center, Moffett Park Business Group, 3) typically it takes 24 months for ridership to materialize, 4) typically redesigns occur about every 10 years. Committee members expressed appreciation for the staff effort and community engagement process, expressed concern about the impact of Route 65 riders, expressed a desire to revisit the community discussion about the future vision and values of transit, asked for consideration of the first/last-mile issues on both the work and home end, emphasized the cost-effectiveness of transit service, asked for more consideration of connections with partners such as Caltrain, asked staff to collaborate with the private employer shuttle providers, and objected to the foundation of the new service plan to provide good connections for BART riders because they're not county residents.

 

The Committee for Transit Mobility and Accessibility considered this item at their April 11, 2019 meeting and voted unanimously to recommend approval. Committee members engaged in a robust discussion and asked several questions: 1) what kind of partners would VTA work with on the new Express Bus program, 2) what are the plan's impacts on Route 40 service, 3) asked staff to reach out to impacted riders (particularly disabled individuals) along Route 65, and 4) asked if there is a possibility that Route 65 service could return in the future. Staff responded: 1) VTA will work with our employer partners in the SmartPass program and other employer groups, 2) the plan would extend Route 40 to new areas of northern Mountain View and offer service from 6:30am to 10:00pm on weekdays, 3) staff will reach out to riders on Route 65, 4) yes, staff will monitor all routes' performance and suggest changes to meet changing conditions, including watching future development activity along Route 65 which could warrant reintroduction of service. Committee members also expressed appreciation to staff for the robust community engagement effort, expressed appreciation for preparing materials to help members better understand the plan, and expressed a concern that Route 51 will not meet performance standards in the future.

 

The Policy Advisory Committee considered this item at their April 11, 2019 meeting and voted to recommend approval. Committee members engaged in a robust discussion and asked several questions: 1) clarification on Route 22 ridership figures, 2) what happened to the changes that were voted on in the Next Network, 3) will staff watch development activity and adjust transit accordingly, 4) where can community members get more information, 5) will staff add service to the Social Services office in Gilroy back into the plan, 6) asked for more detail on the Express partnership program, 7) asked for clarification on school service, and 8) asked staff to bring the rider and public marketing plan to the committee. Staff responded: 1) initial ridership figures were limited due to the quick timeline of the project and staff subsequently gathered more detailed information and talked to riders and drivers, 2) the Next Network plan and all of its changes from today's network were used as the foundation and therefore not re-opened during this process, 3) yes, staff regularly monitors development activity and coordinates with city staff on developments and will adjust transit accordingly, 4) the plan has a detailed website in six languages, 5) the plan does not include additional service that would serve Tompkins Court, 6) staff explained the financial goals of the program, 7) staff explained that school service was not adjusted specifically for this plan, but this will be addressed in the future, and 8) staff confirmed. Committee members also appreciated the community engagement effort and presentations to city councils, advocated for more service in North County, appreciated keeping the Route 22 overnight trips, appreciative of the increased service in Campbell, appreciated the modification of Route 42, expressed concern for reduction in Route 56 and 51 service, expressed a desire for better north-south connections in Cupertino and Santa Clara, expressed a desire for faster service along Stevens Creek, acknowledged Express Bus service is very expensive per hour, discussed the role of the committee in not picking "winners and losers" but rather focusing on policy, and urged staff to develop a robust marketing plan to explain the new service to riders.

 

STANDING COMMITTEE DISCUSSION

 

The Congestion Management, Planning, & Programming Committee considered this item at their April 18, 2019 meeting and voted unanimously to recommend approval. Committee members engaged in a robust discussion and asked several questions: 1) what are the performance figures for Route 65, 2) did staff examine alternative creative solutions to serve Route 65 area at no net cost increase, 3) do some Route 22 overnight riders use the service for mobility purposes, 4) what services are available for seniors who may not have service under the plan, 5) how did the ridership justification for Route 22 overnight trips change from the draft to final plan, 6) is the net change in service hours higher or lower from the draft plan, 7) are there options for the Board to allocate additional funding for transit operations, 8) how fast will the new network respond to changes in travel patterns and transit performance, 9) how will the plan decrease congestion, 10) why is staff recommending not improving service frequency on Rapid 522, 11) what is the ridership impact of turning the Blue Line back at Baypointe instead of Alum Rock? Staff responded: 1) Route 65 currently carries 13.1 boardings per hour, 2) yes, staff explored all possible options to preserve service along the corridor but none could be accomplished without an increase in service hours, 3) yes, a significant portion of riders on the overnight trips are riding for mobility purposes, 4) VTA Access paratransit may be available if the customer has a qualifying disability, plus the County offers senior transportation services, 5) staff conducted a deeper analysis of ridership data, discussed the service with social service partners, and discussed the service with operators and riders in order to more accurately report ridership on the trips, 6) the net change in service hours is slightly lower in the final plan, 7) yes, but the options would require Board action, 8) the performance monitoring program will monitor and respond to changes quarterly, 9) the plan's projected 7-9% increase in ridership will include some trips that were previously made by car, 10) staff received no comments on the proposal to increase service frequency during the feedback period, and a detailed look at ridership on the relevant trips does not justify the increase at this time, 11) turning the Blue Line back at Baypointe is projected to result in a loss of approximately 560,000 annual riders. Committee members also expressed appreciation for the project's intense community engagement, expressed appreciation for proposing to maintain Route 22 overnight trips, shared an experience of personally riding the Route 22 overnight trips, appreciate the proposal to defer Express Bus service cuts, appreciated staff efforts to work with social service agencies on the issue of unhoused residents on Route 22, expressed appreciation for working with the community to restore Almaden Valley service, implored staff to be more thoughtful and thorough when recommending service cuts, and asked staff to be more mindful that service cuts can have a life-changing impact on peoples' lives.

 

The Administration & Finance committee considered this item at their April 18, 2019 meeting and voted unanimously to recommend approval. Committee members engaged in a robust discussion and asked several questions: 1) can staff look at extending Route 42 to serve Kaiser San Jose, 2) why turn back the Blue Line at Baypointe instead of the Orange Line, 3) why have some routes provide service between Milpitas BART and downtown San Jose when BART riders can ride to Berryessa which is closer, 4) does staff have access to details about the type/income/etc. of the jobs data and also the demographics of the population data, 5) does VTA have a clear definition of what constitutes a major service change, 6) asked staff to clarify the proposed loss of service to the Social Services office in Gilroy, 7) asked how seniors may be served in the proposal, 8) and asked if employers have expressed a willingness to participate in the new partnership Express Bus program? Staff responded: 1) it is possible to extend Route 42, at additional cost however, and the hospital is already well-served by two other routes, 2) the Orange Line is new service designed to provide direct service between BART and the jobs along Tasman west and the Blue Line turnback at Baypointe would take advantage of the station as designed to be a transfer station, 3) yes many BART riders heading to downtown would stay on BART to Berryessa, but there are routes from Milpitas BART that serve good transit corridors along the way to San Jose, 4) the jobs data has very limited additional detail, but staff do have good demographic data on population data such as income, age, etc. 5) yes, the major service change policy is precise and outlined in the Board-adopted Transit Service Guidelines document in April 2018, 6) Route 17 is a very low-ridership route that was consolidated into Routes 84/85 in the Next Network plan but the office is in a difficult-to-serve location that would not have service in the proposal due to very low ridership that wouldn't justify the additional operating cost, 7) seniors could get service through VTA Access if they have an eligible disability plus the County offers senior transportation services, 8) yes, employers have so far expressed an interest in partnering with VTA. Committee members also appreciated staff's outreach efforts, appreciated staff's considerable thought and hard work to "do more with less," appreciated the creative solution to maintain service in Almaden Valley, and asked staff to have additional details about some of the major topics ready for the Board meeting.

 

The Safety, Security, Transit Planning & Operations committee considered this item at their April 19, 2019 meeting and voted unanimously to recommend approval. Committee members engaged in robust discussion and asked staff for the cost and ridership information for Route 22 overnight service and what is the assumed (typical) walking distance to transit. Staff replied the marginal cost of the six Route 22 trips in question is between $400,000 and $500,000 annually and carries approximately 200-220 riders across all six trips. Committee members also asked staff to emphasize that service hours in the new plan remain constant from today's service (not a service cut), asked staff to highlight some of the Next Network changes, asked staff to emphasize the budget element of the plan and the impact if the plan were not adopted, asked staff to come back with a review of school service, suggested some visual changes for the presentation, expressed a desire to not consider the Route 22 riders that ride for shelter any differently than riders that ride for mobility, expressed appreciation for the collaboration with community groups, expressed appreciation for including Route 22 overnight service in the plan, implored staff to be more thorough with recommendations in the draft version of plans, expressed that it appears the numbers on the Route 22 trips are justified for mobility purposes, and expressed a desire to collaborate on a better solution for the unhoused riders of Route 22.

Meeting History

Apr 10, 2019 1:30 PM  Technical Advisory Committee (TAC) Regular Meeting

Jay Tyree, Senior Transportation Planner, provided an overview of the staff report and provided a presentation entitled “2019 New Transit Service Plan.”

Members of the Committee made the following comments: 1) thanked Mr. Tyree and VTA staff for their extensive outreach to the cities and stake holders; 2) thanked staff for keeping the overnight service on bus route 22; 3) encouraged VTA to provide more frequent bus service from Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART) stations to downtown San Jose.4) requested staff bring back information about the express bus lines.

M/S/C (Morley/Abbas) to recommend that the VTA Board of Directors adopt the final 2019 New Transit Service Plan for implementation in late 2019 coincident with the opening of the BART extension to Berryessa.

Apr 10, 2019 4:00 PM  Citizens Advisory Committee (CAC) Regular Meeting

Jason Tyree, Senior Project Manager, provided an overview of the staff report and a presentation entitled “2019 New Transit Service Plan.”

Members of the Committee and staff discussed the following: 1) expressed support for keeping Route 22 overnight trips; 2) routes will be reevaluated if express bus partnership targets and goals are not met; 3) “Jane” visualization tool incorporates walking, wait time, transfer assumptions and mobility; 4) expressed excitement for the anticipated responsiveness to user behavior and user experience; 5) include suggestions that could improve ridership, transit speed and user experience on a quarterly basis; 6) outline cities/job centers for context on the “Jane” exhibit; 7) transit connections; 8) consider capital improvements to better serve the customer; 9) bus line flexibility; 10) importance of partnerships between agencies; 11) thanked staff for extending Route 13 into Almaden Valley; 12) encouraged continued customer service/trip analysis, and; 13) expressed concern, noting that a 15-minute service interval is not considered “frequent.”

Public Comment

Mr. Boone commented on the following: 1) requested Public Comment be heard prior to Committee discussion, and 2) Route 22.

Cole Cameron, Cambrian Community Council, expressed appreciation to staff for attending the Cambrian Community Council meeting. He also expressed disappointment in Route 65 cuts and suggested VTA collaborate for a solution such as having a morning/evening run and eliminating the mid-day run.

Linda McCloud, Interested Citizen, commented that Route 65 has changed her life and she would be devastated if it were eliminated.

M/S/C (Quevedo/Del Pinal) to recommend that the VTA Board of Directors adopt the final 2019 New Transit Service Plan for implementation in late 2019 coincident with the opening of the BART extension to Berryessa.

RESULT:RECOMMENDED
Apr 10, 2019 6:30 PM  Bicycle & Pedestrian Advisory Committee (BPAC) Regular Meeting

Jay Tyree, Senior Transportation Planner, provided a presentation entitled, “2019 New Transit Service Plan.”

Public Comment

Monica Mallon, Interested Citizen, expressed disappointment that Route 65 is being cut.

Mr. Roemer commented on the proposed changes to Light Rail.

The Committee discussed the following: 1) the Express Bus partners; 2) the time it takes ridership to materialize; 3) expectation of when the next major redesign would likely take place; 4) expressed concern about the impact of Route 65 riders; 5) first and last mile issues; 6) emphasized the cost-effectiveness of transit service; 7) asked for more consideration of connections with other transit agencies; 8) collaboration with private employer shuttle providers; and 9) expressed objection to the new service plan because it focuses on transit for out of county riders.

M/S/F (Hertan/Neff) on a vote of 6 ayes to 7 noes to recommend that the VTA Board of Directors adopt the final 2019 New Transit Service Plan for implementation in late 2019 coincident with the opening of the BART extension to Berryessa. Members Caidoy, Cretekos, Fearer, Schimandle, Simons, Stallman, and Tuttle opposed.

RESULT:REVIEWED
Apr 11, 2019 10:00 AM  Committee for Transportation Mobility & Accessibility (CTMA) Regular Meeting

Mr. Tyree provided a presentation entitled, “2019 New Transit Service Plan.”

Members of the Committee commented about the following: 1) people with disabilities are not included in the working public demographic; 2) effects of the proposed discontinued bus lines to its riders and people with disabilities; 3) public and private partnership regarding express bus service; 4) bus schedule changes; and 5) use of 2016 Measure B funds for transit.

A Member of the Committee requested staff to reach out to people with disabilities living along the Line 65 corridor and inquire about how many rides they take.

Public Comments

Ms. Mallon expressed concern about the service cutbacks in the New Transit Service Plan and noted its effect to the senior community and people with disabilities.

M/S/C (Daling/Medrano) to recommend that the VTA Board of Directors adopt the final 2019 New Transit Service Plan for implementation in late 2019 coincident with the opening of the BART extension to Berryessa.

Apr 11, 2019 4:00 PM  Policy Advisory Committee (PAC) Regular Meeting
draft Draft

Jay Tyree, Senior Transportation Planner, provided an overview of the staff report.

Vice Chairperson Paul arrived at the meeting and took his seat at 4:34 p.m.

Public Comment

Teresa Perez, Interested Citizen, expressed concern on the consolidation of Bus Route 17 with Routes 84/85, and the lack of pedestrian facilities from Bus Route 68 to the social services office in the City of Gilroy.

Members of the Committee expressed their support and concerns on aspects of the Plan and requested the following: 1) copy of the staff presentation; and 2) an update on the Express Bus Plan public-private partnership strategy and New Transit Service Plan marketing/outreach strategy at a future meeting.

M/S/C (Jimenez/Matichak) on a vote of 9 ayes and 2 noes, to recommend that the VTA Board of Directors adopt the final 2019 New Transit Service Plan for implementation in late 2019 coincident with the opening of the BART extension to Berryessa. Vice Chairperson Paul and Member Lee Eng opposed.

RESULT:RECOMMENDED
Apr 18, 2019 10:00 AM  Congestion Management Program & Planning Committee (CMPP) Regular Meeting
draft Draft

Jay Tyree, Senior Transportation Planner, provided the presentation for the 2019 New Transit Service Plan.

Member Carrasco arrived at the meeting and took her seat at 10:08 a.m.

Public Comment

The following individuals expressed concern about the elimination of Bus Route 65:

· Monica Mallon, Interested Citizen

· Cole Cameron, Interested Citizen

Robin Roemer, Interested Citizen, expressed concern on the proposed shortening of the Blue Line and potential impact to traffic congestion.

Roland Lebrun, Interested Citizen, offered the following suggestions: 1) integrate Caltrain with VTA’s transit network; 2) make infrastructure change to Almaden light rail line; 3) monitory light rail connections at future Diridon Station. Mr. Lebrun asked about definition of “resident near frequent transit.”

Fred Buzo, American Association of Retired Persons (AARP), expressed concern about the service cuts trend and possible impact to the elder community. He suggested examining potential reallocation of funds to support more transit service.

Members of the Committee expressed appreciation to staff for their work on the plan and the community outreach efforts. They asked about the feasibility of funding reallocation for transit operations and correlating transit ridership data with traffic congestion. Members of the Committee noted the importance of thorough data analysis and the impact of service recommendations to the transit-dependent community.

M/S/C (McAlister/Carrasco) to recommend that the VTA Board of Directors adopt the final 2019 New Transit Service Plan for implementation in late 2019 coincident with the opening of the BART extension to Berryessa.

RESULT:RECOMMENDED
Apr 18, 2019 12:00 PM  Administration & Finance Committee (A&F) Regular Meeting

Jason Tyree, Senior Project Manager, provided a brief overview of the staff report and a presentation entitled “2019 New Transit Service Plan.”

Members of the Committee and staff discussed the following: 1) expressed appreciation for the report and presentation; 2) extending Route 42 to Kaiser; 3) Baypointe Station; 4) service between Milpitas BART Station and downtown San Jose; 5) data analysis for job type/income and population demographics would be helpful; 6) Morgan Hill/Gilroy service changes; 7) appreciate Almaden Valley collaboration; 8) service guidelines; 9) Route 65 service changes; 10) employer interest in collaborating with VTA to link Smart Pass to other routes; 11) ridership impact, and; 12) additional details of the cost and tradeoffs for Route 65 would be helpful for the Board.

Public Comment

The following Interested Citizens expressed concern with the 2019 New Transit Service Plan:

· Monica Mallon

· Cole Cameron

· Teresa Perez

· Robin Roemer

Roland Lebrun, Interested Citizen, commented on the following: 1) thanked staff for working with the community to reach win-win solutions; 2) encouraged VTA to integrate the Caltrain Station into its transit network planning; 3) consider using the discontinued light rail line between Almaden and Ohlone/Chenoweth as a test track for future technologies; 4) BART Station design, and; 5) bus route connections.

M/S/C (Liccardo/O’Neill) to recommend that the VTA Board of Directors adopt the final 2019 New Transit Service Plan for implementation in late 2019 coincident with the opening of the BART extension to Berryessa.

RESULT:RECOMMENDED
Apr 19, 2019 12:00 PM  Safety, Security, and Transit Planning and Operations Committee (SSTPO) Regular Meeting
draft Draft

Jay Tyree, Sr. Transportation Planner, provided a presentation titled, “2019 Transit Service Plan.”

Public Comment

Robin Roemer, Interested Citizen, expressed concern that the blue Light Rail line does not continue to Milpitas under the new plan.

Cole Cameron, Interested Citizen, expressed concern on the following: 1) the blue Light Rail line will not go to Milpitas; and 2) route 65 being discontinued.

Roland Lebrun, Interested Citizen, commented on the following: 1) including Caltrain into VTA’s transit planning; and 2) bus route 181 ridership.

The Committee discussed the following: 1) service hours; and 2) Route 22 alternatives.

M/S/C (Diep/Hendricks) to recommend that the VTA Board of Directors adopt the final 2019 New Transit Service Plan for implementation in late 2019 coincident with the opening of the BART extension to Berryessa.

RESULT:REVIEWED
May 2, 2019 5:30 PM Media Board of Directors BOARD OF DIRECTORS MEETING

Jay Tyree, Sr. Transportation Planner, provided a presentation entitled “2019 New Transit Service Plan: Final Staff Recommendation.”

Board Member Peralez left his seat at 7:54 p.m.

Board Member Carrasco left her seat at 7:56 p.m.

Public Comment

Judy Purrington, Silicon Valley Transit Users, noted that 2016 Measure B promised better transit.

Michael Lee, Almaden Valley Community Association, made the following comments: 1) thanked staff for their work on Route 83; and 2) encouraged VTA to think creatively about Route 65.

Carin Marlin, Veterans Affairs Social Worker, expressed support for the proposed changes to Route 42.

Teresa Perez, Interested Citizen, advocated to keep Route 17.

John Mitt-Chaa, Interested Citizen, expressed support for the proposed changes to Route 42.

Mr. Boone made the following comments: 1) expressed support for Route 22 service being kept overnight; and 2) advocated to keep Route 65.

Marybeth Bowman, American Association of Retired Persons (AARP), commented on creating an age friendly network.

Stacy Banerjee, Interested Citizen, commented on Route 51.

Mr. Bradley commented on the need to increase bus service.

Glenn Hendricks, VTA Alternate Board Member, noted that the New Transit Service Plan does not reduce service hours from current levels.

Board Members Peralez and Carrasco returned to their seats at 8:18 p.m.

Matt Mahan, Interested Citizen, expressed support for the New Transit Service Plan.

Interested Citizen made the following comments: 1) expressed gratitude that Route 22 overnight hours were saved; and 2) the County needs more year round homeless shelters.

Members of the Board had a robust discussion on the following: 1) an explanation of decisions about specific routes and first/last mile solutions; 2) Express Bus system; and 3) the need for a solution for passengers who use Route 22 overnight as shelter.

Board Member Liccardo left at 8:25 p.m.

Alternate Board Member Davis left her seat at 8:28 p.m.

Board Member Liccardo returned at 8:31 p.m.

Alternate Board Member Davis returned to her seat at 8:36 p.m.

M/S/C (Chavez/Jones) to adopt the final 2019 New Transit Service Plan for implementation in late 2019 coincident with the opening of the BART extension to Berryessa. Further, the Board requested staff look at the following items and report back at a future meeting: 1) for Route 17 explore developing first/last mile solutions and Vice Chairperson Chavez will work with the County to determine if there is a more easily accessible location for the social service facility on Tompkins Court; 2) explore developing first/last mile solutions, alternative service, and alternate routing options for Route 65 and work with residents along the route to market it; 3) examine options that can address the transportation needs of middle school students along Route 51; and 4) evaluate and present all options for a future Express Bus system.

RESULT:ADOPTED [UNANIMOUS]
MOVER:Cindy Chavez, Vice Chairperson
SECONDER:Chappie Jones, Board Member
AYES:Larry Carr, Magdalena Carrasco, Cindy Chavez, David Cortese, Dev Davis, Chappie Jones, Sam Liccardo, John McAlister, Teresa O'Neill, Raul Peralez, Rob Rennie, Rich Tran