The Rider

The Newsletter That Monitors the Valley Transportation Authority

August-October 2011

Inside ... Message for Community, Nonprofit Groups 6 VT A Board Meeting Dates For 2011 - and more 6 Our Postal and Internet Addresses 6

How YOU Can Help Congress Pass A Transportation Bill
On September 16, President Obama signed another extension of the current Federal transportation funding bill. This is the eighth such extension since the current bill that expired in September 2009. The Federal transportation funding bill is the prime source of federal funding that transit agencies nationwide like the Santa Clara Valley Transportation Authority (VTA) receive for transit capital and operations funding. This new extension, which ends in March 2012, also authorizes the collection of the federal gas tax, which brings in about $100 million per day in revenue. Our group learned of this development by Keith Laing of TheHill, a Washington, DCbased newsletter that reports news from Congress. That story - where public transit funding was lumped in under "highway funding" - highlighted what's currently going in Congress. The Republican-lead House of Representatives wants a six-year transportation bill worth $235 billion total. Meanwhile, Democrats in the Senate want a two-year transportation bill at $109 billion total. As of this writing, no news outlet in Silicon Valley has covered this story in local depth. The new extension was passed by Congress on September 15 , fter Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) allowed the vote on amendments from Senator Rand Paul (R-Ken.) that addressed concerned from Senator Tom Coburn (R-Okla.). Coburn's concerns were that road beautification provisions were included in the proposed bill, and that the bill wasn't offset by costs in other areas of federal spending. Transportation advocacy groups nationwide have pushed for a long-term transportation funding bill. We have learned from the web site, however, that Congress wants to cut public transit and surface transit funding by nearly 33% from current levels. If these cuts are allowed to be approved into the final Federal transportation bill, you will see the cuts as another round of fare hikes and service cuts. WHAT CAN I DO? Let your representatives in Congress know how vital public transit funding is for your bus or light rail commute. * Senator Barbara Boxer - (202)224-3553 * Senator Dianne Feinstein - (202)224-3841 For your representatives in the U.S. House of Representatives, contact the Santa Clara County Registrar's Office at (408)299-8683 from 9am-5pm weekdays for that Representative's local office number. (Capitol photo courtesy of Bobby Mikul at

Info On EI Camino Rapid Bus Service This Month
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Our Next Meeting: October 27
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How To Properly Contact VTA Service
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College &. Pro Football Transit Tips
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EI Camino Rapid Bus Meetings This Month
Our group has learned of public meetings the Santa Clara Valley Transportation Authority (VTA) is holding this month regarding the EI Camino Real Rapid Transit Project. According to VTA, the prime goal of the EI Camino Rapid Transit Project is to provide limited stop rapid transit bus service along EI Camino Real between Palo Alto and San Jose. Construction for the project is due to start in January 2015, with initial service due to start on July 1, 2016. As of 2008, the project is estimated to cost $216 million. Of that amount, $8.7 million will come from the 2000 Measure A Transportation Improvement (voterapproved l/2-cent sales tax) program. VTA will apply for federal funding for the project under the Federal Transportation Administration's "Small Starts" program. buses with three doors. * Enhanced stations - including ticket.~achines, some passeng~r amenities, and all-doors boarding for the rapid buses, helping to speed the bus trip. * Traffic signal priority, allowing a longer green signal as the rapid bus approaches the intersection, speeding the trip * Dedicated bus lanes along some parts of EI Camino Real. This allows separation of rapid bus service from other traffic, further speeding up the bus service. The project further improves the existing 522 Rapid bus service along EI Camino Real from Palo Alto to eastern San Jose, while maintaining the current 22 local bus line. Rapid bus stations in the project are the same as ones used on the current 522 Rapid Bus service. This project will connect with VTA's Santa ClaraAlum Rock Rapid Bus Project between downtown San Jose and Eastridge Mall in eastern San Jose. Our group notes that limited stop bus service along EI Camino Real in Santa Clara County can be traced back to at least 1990. Remember the 300 "Bonus Bus" line that ran only during weekday rush hour periods by Santa Clara County Transit? That bus line was the precursor to the 522 Rapid bus line run by VTA.

Two Project Open Houses ThIS Month
VTA already held two open houses in late September to accept public input regarding the rapid transit project. Here are the dates and locations for the other two meetings this month: * October 18. 2011 - 3:30PM and 6:00PM, Santa Clara City Hall, Council Chambers 1500 Warburton Ave, Santa Clara, CAr (Accessible via VTA's 22 bus line; also walking distance from the 32 and 60 bus lines.) * October 20. 2011 - 3:30PM and 6:00PM, Palo Alto Medical Foundation, Educational Center, 795 EI Camino Real, Palo Alto, CAr (Accessible via VTA's 22 bus line, and about 1/2 mile from the Palo Alto Caltrain Station with connections for Caltrain, SamTrans buses, and VTA's 35 and 522 Rapid bus lines.) WHO'S RESPONSIBLE FOR THE EL CAMINO RAPID BUS PROJECT? VTA Community Outreach(408)321-7575 •

Advantages Of the EI Camino Rapid Bus Project
Amongst the improvements for the rapid bus service along EI Camino Real that VTA wants to provide: * Dedicated bus fleet for the service -likely 60-foot articulated

Next Group Meeting: Thursday, Oct. 27
Our group's next live meeting will be on Thursday, October 27 in San Jose. At our meeting, we'll discuss the El Camino Rapid Bus project and current bus overcrowding issues seen on the 22, 23 and 522 Rapid bus lines. Of course, we can also discuss any concerns about public transportation in Silicon Valley you bring up and what YOU want for a better public transit system in Silicon Valley EVENT: Silicon Valley Transit Users group meeting WHEN: Thursday, October 27 at 6pm WHERE: San Jose Peace & Justice Center, 48 S. 7th Street, San Jose (off E. Santa Clara Street) GETTING THERE: VTA's 22, 522 Rapid, 63, 64, 65, 72, 73, 81, and the Highway 17 Express buses stop nearby. It's also a 2-block walk from the Santa Clara St. VTA light rail station. Can't make our meeting? Contact group founder Eugene Bradley at (408)888-2208.

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How To Properly Contact VTA Customer Service
Ride a Santa Clara Valley Transportation Authority (VTA) bus or light rail often? If you have experienced issues such as: * VTA Bus driver or light rail operator was polite or rude to you * VTA Bus or light rail left early, arrived late or never arrived at a destination * VTA buses and light rail properly connect with one another, or consistently miss connections with other public bus or rail services * Unsafe conditions aboard VTA buses or light rail As a taxpayer who helps fund VTA bus and light rail service, it is your right to report these issues to VTA management. The initial way to do this is through VTA Customer Service. Use this page as a starting point to make your issue(s) known to management of the Santa Clara Valley Transportation Authority (VTA) in Santa Clara County. For all compliments or complaints about VTA bus and light rail service, let VTA's Customer Service know about the issue FIRST at (408)321-2300. If you in the 650 Area Code or are in Morgan Hill, San Martin or Gilroy, call (800)8949908. VTA Customer Service can also be emailed at Here is their postal mailing address: VTA Downtown Customer Service 2 North 1st Street San Jose, CA 95113 Also, please make sure to send a copy of your letter to the Silicon Valley Transit Users as well. Our postal mailing address is on page 6 of this newsletter. However you choose to contact VTA Customer Service, always include details of the incident in question IN FULL DETAIL. In your report to Customer Service, include what bus or light rail train you are riding (or rode) and the driver's badge number. Details on how to get this information are below.

Contacting VTA Customer Service

Identifying VTABus Routes and Vehicles
In your report to VTA Customer Service, make sure to include the following information when calling: * The four-digit vehicle number of the bus * The bus route number and destination * The bus garage routing number At minimum, always get the destination and vehicle number of the bus or light rail train when reporting to VTA Customer Service. ~ The photo of the front of this VTA bus below shows where to find this information. This same information is found in the same place on all white VTA 35-foot,40-foot, and 60-foot articulated buses. This information is also in the same locations on all of the blue VTA 522 Rapid buses as well. * 1. Destination Sign * 2. Bus garage routing number (showing the bus route and number of bus that left the garage for that route. In this case, this is on the 64 bus line and is the 3rd bus that left the garage for this route. * 3. Physical bus number.

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(continued from page 3) Light Rail For VTA light rail, using the light rail car pictured on the left, this is where you can find the vehicle and destination information: * 1. Light rail car number (always three digits - A is on one side of the car; B is for the other side) * 2. Destination sign * 3. Light rail garage routing number - two to three digits, indicating the number of the car that left the garage. Community Buses For VTA Community Buses like the one photographed below, this is where you can find route and bus number information: * 1. Destination sign * 2. Vehicle number (always four digits) * 3. Destination sign near the roof of the bus, next to the wheelchair door Identifying VT A Bus Drivers & Light Rail Operators All VTA bus drivers and light rail operators wear uniforms. On the right side of those uniforms is a three or four-digit badge number identifying the driver. (You always see the driver's badge number as you enter any VTA bus and pay your fare or show a valid fare card.) Refer to the driver's or operator's badge number when contacting VTA Customer Service with your compliment or complaint.

Before Ending Contact With VTACustomer Service ...

Before you conclude your contact with VTA Customer Service, always ask for a case number and request to be contacted in writing. If you do not hear back from VTA Customer Service within five (5) business days, follow up with a phone call or an email referring your case number you received when you first made contact. Send your written followup inquiry to the head of VTA's Customer Service:
Patrick Griffin Customer Service Manager Marketing and Customer Service Division Santa Clara Valley Transportation Authority 3331 N. First Street San Jose, CA 95134-1906

(Please include the full name and title of anyone you spoke to in Customer Service in your inquiry.) In addition, send a copy of your inquiry to the following person within VTA management:
Donald A. "Dan" Smith Chief Operating Officer Operations Administration Division Santa Clara Valley Transportation Authority 3331 N. First Street, Building B San Jose, CA 95134-1906

Provide in writing the same information you gave VTA Customer Service, and the case number they provided you. Ask to be contacted in writing. If no resolution has still not been provided to you, or if you are not satisfied with the response or resolution VTA gave, make time to make your case to the VTA's Board of Directors at their next meeting. Also, send a copy or separate letter to us as well. Our postal mailing address is on page 6 of this newsletter.

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Bus & Rail Tips To Bay Area College and Pro Football Games
Want to go to a college or pro football game but do not have a car to get you to the game? We have published an online public transit guide that tells you how to get to major college and professional football via private and public transit. Here is some brief information: Cal Bears football will have their home games at AT&T Park in San Francisco this season. This is due to renovations at the on-campus Memorial Stadium. AT&T Park is only one block north of Caltrain's 4th and King San Francisco station. Call Caltrain at 1(800)660-4287 for schedule and fare information. Oakland Raiders home games at Coliseum have always been accessible by BART via the Oakland Coliseum/Airport station. You can also get to Raiders home games via Amtrak's Capitol Corridor train from San Jose Diridon Station or the Great America station in Santa Clara. Capitol Corridor trains stop directly behind the Coliseum before and after each game. Call Amtrak's Capitol Corridor at 1(877)974-3322 for fare and schedule information. San Francisco 4gers fans have two private express bus options to and from their home games at Candlestick. The first express bus option has standard express bus service from locations in San Jose and Palo Alto. Call (855)463-2628 for schedule and fare information. The second express bus option also includes a game ticket, food voucher and pre-game tailgate party, in addition to a round-trip ticket. Known as the "4gers Experience" it is the official team-endorsed means for experiencing a 4gers home game. Call (877)494-9377 for schedule and fare information. San Jose State Spartans home football games are held at Spartan Stadium, at 1257 S. 10th Street in San Jose. Spartan Stadium is within walking distance of some Valley Transportation Authority (VTA) bus lines like the 25 (Keyes/S. 10th), 66 and 68 (Monterey Hwy / Alma) and 73 (Alma/Senter). Call VTA at (408)321-2300 for bus schedule and fare information. Stanford Cardinal home football games are held at Stanford Stadium on El Camino Real & Galvez in Palo Alto. Caltrain has special service to and from all Cardinal home games via the Stanford Stadium stop - only a block from the Stadium. Stanford Stadium is also 1/2 mile from the Palo Alto Caltrain station for access to VTA buses like the 22, 35 and 522 Rapid. Call Caltrain at 1(800)660-4287 and VTA at (408)321-2300 for schedule and fare information. Want a full copy of our College and Pro Football transit guide? Please send us a request at our postal mailing address. You can find our postal mailing address on page 6 of this newsletter.


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We Want To Talk To Your Community or Nonprofit Group
Are you part of a community, neighborhood, or other nonprofit group? We want to talk to you about our fight for a quality, affordable public transit system in Santa Clara County. Our group can show you how to make your voice heart to the decisionmakers at VTA, and how to how the agency accountable. Please call our group's founder, Eugene Bradley, at (408)888-2208 anytime. Or, send a written request to our address on the right.

Silicon Valley Transit Users P. O. Box 390069
Mountain View, CA 94039-0069 phone: (408)888-2208



Twitter: Search "Silicon Valley Transit Users" on Facebook!

VTA Board Meeting Dates For 2011 - and more...
The Santa Clara Valley Transportation Authority (VTA) Board of Directors meetings are where all of the decisions affecting transportation in Santa Clara County are made. They typically meet on the first Thursday of every month at 5:30pm at the County Supervisors' Chambers at 70 W. Hedding Street (comer of N. First Street) in San Jose. The VTA Board of Directors will meet on November 3 and December 8 (at 9am). The County Supervisors' Chambers is a short walk from the Civic Center light rail station. The VTA's 61, 62, and 66 local bus lines with the180 express bus lines stop nearby. Plan on carpooling to a VTA Board meeting or workshop? The County Supervisors' Chambers is three blocks from Interstate 880 and Highway 101. Free on-the-street parking is available after about 5:45pm. More information on VTA Board of Directors meetings and workshops is available by calling the Board Secretary at (408)3215680. The same phone number can be used to join their mailing list for all VTA public meeting agendas.

Got an email address? You can get what's going on "under the surface" at VTA from a rider's perspective much faster than getting this newsletter. Our group has a Yahoo! Groups-based email list. Want to be on our email list? Please visit our web site (listed above) and on the bottom left of the page, click on the "Yahoo! Groups Subscribe" button. Or, you can send an email message to with a request to subscribe to our email list. You can also find copies of this newsletter at Moon Zoom Clothing, 1630 W. San Carlos St. San Jose, Please contact Eugene Bradley if you wish to distribute these newsletters to other people and businesses. Please feel free to SPREAD THE WORD about all information in our newsletters. It's how others are informed.

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