Tuesday, April 21, 2009

VTA budget highlights

Despite clear indications of a weak economy since last year, VTA continued to deny huge revenue drop until recently. This Friday, the VTA board will discuss its biannual budget.

Tax drop

VTA basically is expecting revenue from sales taxes will continue to decline for the next 2 years (5% in FY10 and an addition 3% in FY11). Given the escalation in cost, VTA's purchasing power (inflation adjusted revenue) would be even less than what VTA had in 2003.

Bus cuts

From the draft budget:

"The original plan was cost neutral with service hours reallocated from substandard performing routes to other routes which have proven ridership demand. Unfortunately, with the current economic climate, the reduction of state funding for transit and the decline in sales tax revenues, VTA must be cautious with service plan improvements given the need to address our operating deficit in the next few years. Our priority is to protect our existing, well performing services, especially the core network that carries over three-quarters of the daily bus passengers. As such, the Board approved plan calls for the proposed service reductions on underperforming routes to begin implementation on July 13, 2009."

Light rail

VTA has reduced the length of trains to reduce operating cost.

Fare hikes

VTA is proposing general fare hikes effective July 2010, and fare hikes for Eco Pass contracts in January of 2010:

ADULT Current fare Proposed fare Change % Change
Cash $1.75 $2.00 $0.25 14%
Community Bus $1.00 $1.25 $0.25 25%
Light Rail Excursion Pass $3.50 $4.00 $0.50 14%
Day Pass $5.00 $6.00 $1.00 20%
Day Pass Token $22.50 $27.00 $4.50 20%
Express Day Pass $10.00 $12.00 $2.00 20%
Monthly Pass $61.25 $70.00 $8.75 14%
Express Monthly Pass $122.50 $140.00 $17.50 14%
YOUTH Current fare Proposed fare Change % Change
Cash $1.50 $1.75 $0.25 17%
Community Bus $0.50 $0.75 $0.25 50%
Light Rail Excursion Pass $3.00 $3.50 $0.50 17%
Day Pass $4.00 $5.00 $1.00 25%
Day Pass Token $18.00 $22.50 $4.50 25%
Monthly Pass $40.00 $45.00 $5.00 13%
SENIOR/DISABLED Current fare Proposed fare Change % Change
Cash $0.75 $1.00 $0.25 33%
Community Bus $0.50 $0.50 $0.00 0%
Light Rail Excursion Pass $1.50 $2.00 $0.50 33%
Day Pass $2.00 $3.00 $1.00 50%
Monthly Pass $20.00 $25.00 $5.00 25%

As you can see, most fares would be adjusted to the nearest dollar. For the Eco Pass contracts, the fares would go up by 20%.


According to the budget, VTA has stopped filling vacant positions other than those critical to the agency. In addition, VTA proposed a number of measures to reduce labor cost:
  • - Wage freeze/cuts
  • - Furloughs
  • - Employee contribution to Pension
  • - Employee contribution to Retiree Medical
  • - Increase employee contribution to healthcare
Michael Burns also approached the unions to reopen the contracts. However, the contract with ATU (VTA's biggest union) was just ratified last fall, when the economy was already weak. One has to wonder whether Burns was at all intended to stick with the contract, or that he was willing to do anything to prevent a strike last fall so that he could deceive voters.

VTA will host budget meetings in May:

Monday, May 4, 2009
3:00-5:00 pm and 6:00-8:00 pm
Santa Clara County Government Center-Isaac Newton Room

Tuesday, May 5, 2009
6:00-8:00 pm
Morgan Hill-Community & Cultural Center

Wednesday May 6, 2009
6:00-8:00 pm
Milpitas-Milpitas Public Library

Monday, May 11, 2009
6:00-8:00 pm
Mountain View-Council Chambers

Tuesday, May 12, 2009
6:00-8:00 pm
Cupertino-Quinlan Community Center

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