Among the modifications, VTA would eliminate Express Route 185, which runs from the Gilroy Transit Center to Mountain View's North Bayshore, due to low ridership. The route had about 45 riders per weekday on average, according to VTA data from last year.
On the other side of the spectrum, VTA is also proposing reductions to Route 22. This 24-hour, seven-day-a-week bus line is known as the "Hotel 22" because homeless people often ride it continuously through the night, using it as a safe place to sleep. This route goes from Eastridge Transit Center in San Jose up to Palo Alto, running mostly along El Camino Real.
Route 22 has the highest ridership of all the bus lines in Santa Clara County with about 9,740 riders on an average weekday. The proposed VTA changes would eliminate Route 22 service from 1 a.m. to 4 a.m. on all days of the week.
VTA officials say about 40 to 45 people use Route 22 as a shelter between these hours. VTA officials say providing service during these early-morning hours is costly because it requires drivers, dispatch staff and security at the transit centers. Normally those labor costs are spread out between all the bus routes throughout the county, VTA spokeswoman Holly Perez told the Voice.
"We are certainly aware of the impact that this proposal could have on homeless riders and those who may rely on this service as transportation to get to and from work," Perez said. "While we recognize that members of our community have used our buses as a safe haven, the cities and county play a critical role in tackling homelessness."
Other changes include reductions to Route 81, which runs from downtown San Jose to Moffett Field. That bus line will no longer make a special detour on weekday afternoons to pick up students at St. Francis High School in Mountain View.
Despite the cuts, VTA officials say they will improve service levels on some highly trafficked bus lines. For example, the Rapid 522 express line that runs along El Camino Real, could see improved frequency, with buses arriving every 15 minutes during commute hours.
A full list proposed changes can be found on the VTA website newtransitplan.vta.org.
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