As usual, when a new light rail line opens, there's will be changes to bus routes as well. Mostly likely it would involve shortening long trunk bus routes coming from downtowns to the nearest new light rail stations, and the rest filled by short feeder bus routes between the new light rail stations and the neighborhoods.
When the Tasman East/Capitol light rail opened last year in Milpitas, lines 70 and 71, long mainline bus routes connecting East San Jose and Milpitas, were both shortened at the north end at the Great Mall light rail station. Services in Milpitas were then replaced by short feeder bus routes 46 and 47. The replacement services are less frequent and with shorter operating hours than 70 and 71.
For a trip that took only one bus trip between these two neighborhoods now takes two, in addition to the transfer penalty, it also increased the fares for riders without monthly passes. Passengers now either have to pay twice on the one way fares or buy day passes.
On the other hand, similar proposals were presented to Los Gatos for the opening of the Vasona extension scheduled in August, but the wealthy folks in Los Gatos would get a much sweeter deal.
Under the current service plan for July 2005, lines 60 and 62, both long mainline bus routes, would be shortened at the south end at the Winchester light rail station and Good Samaritan Hospital respectively. Services to the south would replaced by new feeder routes 48 and 49 from the Winchester light rail station.
Unlike the services in Milpitas, both routes 48 and 49 would be as frequent and would have a similar operating hours as the mainline bus routes (all night services to and from Los Gatos end at about 9:00pm currently). The best of all, however, is that these feeder services would be FREE for everyone!
Can't you see what's wrong? People of color and lower income in Milpitas and East San Jose faced de facto service deterioration with feeder services that are less frequent, have shorter service span, and are more expensive than the previous mainline services. Meanwhile primarily white residents in million dollar homes would receive free feeder services to Light Rail that would be as frequent as the mainline services.
While VTA would try to justify free and more frequent service in Los Gatos because of the smaller buses that would be operated by private firms, VTA is nonetheless providing unequal treatment. Milpitas and East San Jose has a much larger minority and lower income population than in Los Gatos.
Where do the Milpitas and San Jose politicians stand on this? It seems that they are okay about the unequal treatment as long as they get the stupid BART extension through in the next 20 to 30 years. For them, an expensive rail system that is even more expensive for their constituents to ride would sure make things right!