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Name:Michael Patrick
Location:San Jose, California, United States

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Saturday, June 4


VTA Transfers Costly, Transfers Imposed on Riders

And how about those full-price transfers on VTA? They are not a good deal at all. If you're lucky enough to have your starting and ending points near the same transit line, you get to pay $1.75. If not, get ready to pay $3.50 or even $5.25. There is no step in between. You're better off buying a $5.25 day pass for a round trip involving more than one route.

So, when VTA institutes service changes that add transfers to formerly direct trips, the negative effect is significant. Fare increases are problematic enough for riders, but routes split into two require riders to pay double fare.

As accountablevta points out, such service changes occurred in the opening of the Capitol Avenue light-rail line to direct users to the new service. Similar changes also will occur in coordination with the opening of the Vasona light rail line when Downtown Los Gatos will lose direct service to central San Jose and Santa Clara. The big difference here is that, while East San Jose riders must pay an additional $1.75 for previously direct service, new "shuttles" to Downtown Los Gatos will be free of charge. You might say it's an inequitable arrangement.

Would VTA lose funds by allowing less costly transfers, or would it gain riders by eliminating an inconvenience?

October 13: Since Los Gatos has lost its longer-distance route to Santa Clara and San Jose, the question to be asked is: whom does VTA serve first, those who are otherwise immobile or those who do have a choice and choose to crowd the roads?

It was never swift. But it worked. By taking the 82 bus east and switching to the 62 bus south on Bascom Avenue, she could make it door-to-door [from Willow Glen to Los Gatos] in an hour and a quarter.

Now the 62 doesn't go to downtown Los Gatos anymore. Since July 1, no big transit buses go to downtown Los Gatos. They've been replaced by 24-passenger shuttle buses, the kind you take at the airport to retrieve your car. Goodbye, Uncle Diesel. Welcome Mr. Hertz.

This is popular in the town, not least because it's free. The two shuttle lines run in a loop from downtown to the Winchester light rail station, 4.5 miles north. But because the new system requires another transfer to reach downtown, it's hard on long-haul bus commuters. The shortening of the 62 route and changes to a backup route have added another 45 minutes to Cunningham's trip.

. . . . . . . .

When I rode it one afternoon between downtown and the Winchester light rail station, the 49 shuttle -- which is operated by Parking Corporation of America -- was clean, on time and nearly full.

But there's a price to be paid, primarily by non-residents like Cunningham, who counted on a single bus taking them closer to downtown.

Instead of her old route and yet another transfer to the shuttle, Cunningham now takes a bus south on the Almaden Expressway, and then endures a bad connection to a 27 line going west toward Los Gatos. Total time: Close to two hours.

. . . . . . . .

``There are trade-offs,'' he says. ``I would hope that people who are slightly inconvenienced would see this in terms of the added value.''

Again, fair. But the shuttles, which are costing VTA more than $410,000 for six months, enjoy support that most other bus lines in the county don't. Instead of paying the standard $1.75 fare, riders go free in one of the valley's most affluent towns. [Scott Herhold, Mercury News, October 13]