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Grand jury report blasts VTA for inefficiencies, poor oversight

Original post made on Jul 5, 2019

VTA, the taxpayer-funded agency in charge of offering transit solutions to Santa Clara County's traffic jams, is currently embroiled in a mess of its own.


Read the full story here Web Link posted Thursday, July 4, 2019, 8:33 AM

Comments (9)

15 people like this
Posted by Steve
a resident of another community
on Jul 5, 2019 at 8:13 pm

I think that the discussion on the way the directors are chosen sort of misses the point. I don’t think it matters that much how the directors are chosen. Change my mind.

However, the grand jury is onto something when it writes “Despite the serious ongoing structural financial deficit, the VTA Board has been unwilling to review and reconsider decisions made years or even decades ago regarding large capital projects (and their attendant operating costs) that are no longer technologically sound or financially viable, based on their costs and projected ridership.”

Based on current ridership projections, the Eastridge extension is questionable. This is especially true if you consider that it duplicates the existing Rapid 522 service.

An even bigger waste of money, which the grand jury ignored is the extension of the multi-billion dollar BART line from the San Jose to the Santa Clara Caltrain stations. This would duplicate existing Caltrain service and the 22/522 buses from San Jose to Santa Clara. This just reinforces the common impression that big ticket transit projects are a waste of money.


4 people like this
Posted by Resident 1-Adobe Meadows
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Jul 6, 2019 at 6:26 pm

Resident 1-Adobe Meadows is a registered user.

The status of "the government of CA" right now is that housing is suppose to be provided next to transportation routes. Yet no one wants to use the transportation because it is so bad. We keep getting trapped in these situations of pronouncements from the "government" but the ability to control what criteria is available to satisfy the requirement is not there. The next time the "government" issues some mandate regarding housing and transportation then it is time to speak up. That is our governor who thinks up these situations and the assembly that keeps writing legislation to write laws. Enough is enough.


2 people like this
Posted by Marc
a resident of Midtown
on Jul 8, 2019 at 4:11 pm

So the response of the VTA to this grand jury report is to issue an RFI for "radical technological solutions" to the traffic problems?

Just what we need. More boondoggles like HSR that will cost billions, take forever and never ever produce any tangible results.

But it will distract attention from the total mis-management of the VTA.

/marc


20 people like this
Posted by Resident 1-Adobe Meadows
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Jul 9, 2019 at 8:10 am

Resident 1-Adobe Meadows is a registered user.

Another transportation problem in PA is the way that major streets are being reduced in number of lanes. Did anyone in the PA city consult with the fire department or police department? I do not see how emergency vehicles will be able to respond to emergencies at commute time when the streets are backed up. If we are suppose to go to the right hand side to allow passage there is no place for us to go to make that happen. And concrete / planters in the middle of the road prevent the fire trucks from riding down the center of the road. I do not see any comprehensive planning anywhere at this point in time. It is like a bunch of special interests just going ahead with whatever they have thought up with no central theme as to how the whole picture works when an emergency happens. And that can be winter when we have heavy rains.


2 people like this
Posted by Anon
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jul 10, 2019 at 10:15 am

Posted by Steve, a resident of another community

>> I think that the discussion on the way the directors are chosen sort of misses the point. I don’t think it matters that much how the directors are chosen. Change my mind.

I can't change your mind. I agree with you.

>> However, the grand jury is onto something when it writes “Despite the serious ongoing structural financial deficit, the VTA Board has been unwilling to review and reconsider decisions made years or even decades ago regarding large capital projects (and their attendant operating costs) that are no longer technologically sound or financially viable, based on their costs and projected ridership.”

This is the big one. It isn't really a "Grand Jury" sort of problem with "waste, fraud, abuse". It is a problem with wishful thinking. They should not be spending money they don't have.

>> Based on current ridership projections, the Eastridge extension is questionable. This is especially true if you consider that it duplicates the existing Rapid 522 service.

I'm unsure about this. I don't know much about transit in the area, and I don't know what the area looks like at rush hour. Other than being completely stuck north of there in gridlock after being dumb enough to venture there after 3 PM against my own better judgement. But, personally, I vastly prefer light rail that keeps moving at rush hour over sitting in a bus not moving in gridlock. And, I don't overuse the term "gridlock" either. People talk about it, but, 680/Milpitas/880/etc has it, and, if this extension will increase ridership by getting people through/past the gridlock area, that is all to the good.

>> An even bigger waste of money, which the grand jury ignored is the extension of the multi-billion dollar BART line from the San Jose to the Santa Clara Caltrain stations. This would duplicate existing Caltrain service and the 22/522 buses from San Jose to Santa Clara. This just reinforces the common impression that big ticket transit projects are a waste of money.

Make all connections at San Jose Diridon. One of my relatives has done that frequently in the past. Caltrain, Amtrak, ACE, VTA, Santa Cruz CA-17 buses, it is all there. Let's keep and expand the inter-system connections right there. I think it makes sense to extend BART to Diridon, IF the money is there for it, but, not further.


2 people like this
Posted by Anon
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jul 10, 2019 at 10:22 am

Apologies for a follow-up post, but, this editorial raises a lot of issues with the Eastridge extension. I may change my mind about it, despite my support of light rail:

Web Link


6 people like this
Posted by Steve
a resident of another community
on Jul 11, 2019 at 8:45 am

Anon: 'Make all connections at San Jose Diridon. One of my relatives has done that frequently in the past. Caltrain, Amtrak, ACE, VTA, Santa Cruz CA-17 buses, it is all there. Let's keep and expand the inter-system connections right there. I think it makes sense to extend BART to Diridon, IF the money is there for it, but, not further."

About a decade ago, I agreed with Web Link that the BART project was over-engineered and that the selected route was subopitmal

I/we lost that fight and it is old news.

I accept that BART will go as far as the Shark Tank/SJ Caltrain station, which was tastelessly named after a still-living politician, but oppose it going to Santa Clara because that would duplicate existing service.

I am sorry if this was not clear previously.

Regarding the Eastridge LRT extension, I just will VTA would do a benefit/cost analysis, something not done with transportation projects any more.


7 people like this
Posted by Frank
a resident of another community
on Jul 11, 2019 at 9:28 am

And speaking of auditors, what about BART?
Web Link


3 people like this
Posted by Curmudgeon
a resident of Downtown North
on Jul 11, 2019 at 4:12 pm

I heard on KQED this morning that VTA gets only 9% of its operating revenue from fares. So why does it bother collecting fares? Operate VTA as a public resource. Let everybody ride free and watch ridership soar.


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