New route recommendation released

Proposed South County changes minor

Valley Transit Authority (VTA) staff has made seven recommendations for changes in service to existing local routes. Many of the changes include discontinuing or limiting routes primarily in San Jose; however, a few proposed changes still affect South County riders.

In January, the VTA released a 2019 Draft Service plan, which proposed making routes 14, 17 and 19 in Gilroy into a bidirectional route and changing the name of Route 16 in Morgan Hill, which connects Live Oak High School to San Martin Caltrain, to Route 87. Both of these changes are in the VTA’s proposed final plan.

Routes 17, 18 and 19 would be replaced in the new plan with routes 84 and 85. The new routes will go in a “two-way loop” to serve Gilroy. Routes 17 and 18 currently connect the Gilroy Transit Center and St. Louise hospital, while Route 19 goes from the Gilroy Transit Center to Wren and Mantelli.

The VTA also proposed, in January, cutting two “commute period trips” on Express Route 168, which connects the Gilroy Transit Center to Diridon Station. This change would have brought the number of trips down from seven to five. The original plan called for several other express route cuts, but the VTA has since shifted gears on cutting or changing these routes.

While a few San Jose limited bus routes have been discontinued, instead of decreasing frequency in some South County lines, the VTA will implement a new express route service model in 2020. The final plan describes the impending express route model: “The final plan proposes to defer the draft plan’s proposed express service decreases until early 2020 so that VTA can respect the financial contributions that employers have made to purchase annual SmartPasses for their employees.  

“In early 2020, VTA will implement a new express route program model that includes third-party funding partnerships that would offset the high cost of operation and bring the routes into compliance with VTA’s performance standards.”

The frequency of weekday rides on Route 68 between Gilroy Transit Center and San Jose Diridon Station has been increased to every 15 minutes from 30 minutes.

According to information provided by the public information officer for the VTA, the VTA’s board of directors set three new parameters for the 2019 plan, one of which is, “Minimize service cuts in South County.”

The final plan and recommendations will be presented to the VTA board on May 2 at a public meeting. Following the plan’s adoption, changes will begin “with the start of BART service to Santa Clara County,” which is expected to happen at the end of 2019.

The full list of recommended changes in the VTA’s Proposed 2019 New Transit Service Plan can be viewed at http://newtransitplan.vta.org/

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