VTA’s Incredible Shrinking Bus Ridership

20150905_181050A bus ridership crisis at the Santa Clara Valley Transportation Authority (VTA) has publicly reared its head. Gary Richards of the San Jose Mercury News reports on how VTA bus ridership has dropped 23% since 2001. Richards’ report details highlights of a presentation from worldwide transit planner Jarrett Walker detailing solutions to the bus ridership crisis.

More details on that story, the report, and what YOU can do follow after the jump.

The Rest Of the Story

Gary Richards interviewed me on this story last week. Here is an email exchange with his inquiry for the story and my comments on the Walker Report.

One key fact that Richards’ story got wrong was the final cost of the Walker report. Here is how Richards’ story detailed the cost of the two-year report:

Currently, about 30 percent of VTA bus service is geared to covering areas where bus rides are vital to the very few riders those lines carry. The two-year, $50,000 report by consultant Jarrett Walker + Associates said if that was lowered to 20 percent or 10 percent and money was redirected to the most heavily used routes, ridership and fare revenues would likely increase.

An email to VTA’s Office of the Board Secretary revealed a final cost over 20% higher:

Question: How much did VTA spend in hiring Jarrett Walker & Associates last year?
VTA Staff Response:  VTA paid $63,496.00 to Jarret Walker and Associates for work performed in calendar year 2015.
Question: In what portion of the budget did the expenditure originate from?
VTA Staff Response:  The expenditures were paid from the VTA Transit Fund Operating Budget.

Recall the last time VTA reorganized its bus service, back in 2007. While it was supposed to make VTA more efficient and increase bus ridership, as of 2015 it still has nearly the same 106,000 riders it had as when the bus reorg took effect in 2008.  VTA’s bus system statistics detail this fact, and are found below.

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Written by Eugene Bradley

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