The Santa Clara Valley Transportation Authority launched a new higher-frequency route plan on Saturday, hoping for increased ridership by offering several days of free rides.
VTA is offering free rides system-wide on all buses and trains until about 5 a.m. Wednesday morning, Jan. 1, said Brandi Childress, spokeswoman for VTA. On New Year's Eve only, the 181 bus line and VTA light rail lines will run extended service about an hour later than usual.
While the transportation authority sometimes offers a single free-ride day, "this time around we wanted to make it easy for people to try our service and really say thank you for the patience everyone has had as we roll out our newly-designed transit service," Childress said.
"As we were preparing for the new BART system, we knew this would be a good opportunity to look at the system and find areas where we can improve frequency and connect bus routes that would help the regional service," Childress said.
VTA's new "frequent routes" plan has 20 bus and light rail routes said to pick up every 15 minutes or less during weekdays at stops throughout the county.
"This is the most significant transit service change that VTA has implemented since 2008," VTA said in a news release. "Not only has service been redesigned to accommodate the addition of BART service, but it will give more people more frequent and reliable transit options.
The change was made with community input over 18 months and will shift low ridership routes so that 90 percent of the service is focused on high ridership areas, according to VTA.
Silicon Valley residents still await Santa Clara County BART extensions to BART's Berryessa and Milpitas stations, which were supposed to open before the new year and have since been deferred without a new opening day.
VTA began running bus routes to the would-be extensions on Saturday, Dec. 28.
More info on the free rides and new service routes can be found at newservice.vta.org.