Friday, December 11, 2009

Epitome of VTA's real structural problem

In what otherwise a somber meeting about VTA's huge deficit, general manager Michael Burns sprinkled some "good news" that FTA has allowed the BART project to compete for "new starts" fund. VTA had tried to apply for new starts fund for years but FTA repeatedly gave the project "not recommended" status. VTA gave into FTA's demand by splitting the entire project into two phases and submit the first phase to Berryessa for federal funding.

It is not good news when VTA had multiple chances to pursue superior and more cost-effective options, and when VTA riders will have to suffer as bus and light rail service reductions go into effect next month. Some VTA boardmembers apparently show no concerns for their own constitutents who ride VTA:

"With the BART project, we are planning for the next 30 years," said (Sam Liccardo) the San Jose councilman. "It would be foolish for us to forget a very promising project over the long run over what may be a very dire situation in the short run."

VTA is not a construction agency for a single rail project, but an agency that provides transit operation to about 100,000 riders daily. To blindly pursue this wasteful project, VTA concealed key information from voters about its ability to finance this project and the rest of VTA's services. Only until when voters no longer matter, they said oops and cut service anyway. Despite some of the boardmembers' claim about being green and supporting open government, they are still beholden to crooks like Carl Guardino, who then is beholden to corporations and the highway lobby.

Even though this BART project will turn out nothing but a massive failure, we riders should not allow VTA to further reduce service, but rather bring back the service that we were promised. Perhaps FTA cares if VTA doesn't.


Mike said...

The dichotomy is amazing. I commute from San Francisco into Sunnyvale two days per week. In San Francisco, the buses are still scheduled to run pretty frequently, but are completely unreliable.

In Santa Clara County, the buses are generally on time, but if your boss stops by to ask you a question, you might be looking at a 30, 40 or 60 minute wait for the next bus (even in commute hours on many lines).

It is really hard to rely on transit when a change in plans means such a long wait. I also find that transfers are difficult, because it can take 3 or 4 minutes to cross a 6-lane highway, and your connecting bus goes whizzing by while you are waiting for the pedestrian light.

accountablevta said...

At one of those MTC sponsored conferences, a staffer will ask which agency has the best on-time performance record. Quite a few chose BART, but the answer is VTA (not many people ride it). The same staff will also ask which agency has the highest ridership. Some people chose BART, but the real answer is Muni (about twice as much as BART).

arcady said...

In my experience, VTA is pretty good with on time performance, but to some extent that comes from overly padded schedules. I was on a 22 bus recently at about 7 pm, and the bus stopped at El Camino and Wolfe (3 minutes early, as usual), and the driver took about 8-9 minutes to go cash a check. But he said, and I have no reason to doubt him, that by the time the bus got to Castro Street, it would be on time again.