This Thursday's Committee Vote -- Free VTA Passes for 2 Years for All Residents of VTA TOD Sites #VTA

Eugene Bradley

Live, work in, or know someone who lives or works in San Jose?

Know someone who has been priced out of living in San Jose?

Read below for a good transit and housing advocacy opportunity to help encourage transit ridership on VTA. Also, to help provide much-needed affordable housing in San Jose.

Eugene Bradley
Founder & CEO, Silicon Valley Transit Users
phone/text (408)888-2208

-----Original Message-----
From: Alex Shoor <alex@...>
Sent: Tuesday, December 13, 2022 12:08 PM
To: Jenn Guitart <jguitart@...>; Adina Levin <adina.levin@...>; ian@...; Zoe Siegel <zsiegel@...>; Jordan Grimes <jgrimes@...>; ebradley@...; Vince Rocha <vrocha@...>; Fred Buzo <fbuzo@...>; Erika Pinto <epinto@...>; Shiloh Ballard <shiloh@...>; Diana Crumedy <diana@...>; hello@...; Jeffrey Buchanan <jeffrey@...>; jean@...; Stuart Cohen <stuartc375@...>; Monica Mallon <monicamallon@...>; Jason Baker <jbaker@...>; Mathew Reed <mathew@...>; organizing@...; Ray Bramson <ray@...>; Ali Sapirman <ali@...>; Betsy Megas <dvortygirl@...>; ryanglobus@...; info@...; omar.f.din@...; Lucas Ramirez <lucas.a.ramirez@...>; Peter <phamp1640@...>; Sergio Lopez <sergio.lopez@...>; christinef@...; arausch@...; bkengland@...; John Zhao <john.zhao@...>; Ilya Gurin <iivvgg@...>; NorcalMothersOutFront@...; neil@...; alex@...; pardis.beikzadeh@...; Adam Buchbinder <adam.buchbinder@...>
Cc: Lalo Mendez <projects@...>
Subject: This Thursday's Committee Vote -- Free VTA Passes for 2 Years for All Residents of VTA TOD Sites

Transit advocacy orgs / TOD advocates (any others we should add to this email chain?),

[Forgive me if you’re tracking this already. If not, below is the narrative on this issue]

As you may know, when Catalyze SV members score development projects <> , we often advocate for free transit passes for occupants for all the sustainable development reasons you know (ongoing shout out to Adina for playing a leading role in designing our scoring criteria years ago!).

So we’ve been surprised when, as VTA has been taking the land it owns near transit and slating it for development, it hasn’t asked or ensured the developers it selects to build on this land include VTA passes for residents. When one such great project was approved by the San Jose City Council in August 2022, Mayor Liccardo raised this same point <> .

So he asked VTA to look into this. The product of his call is coming to VTA’s Administration & Finance Committee this Thursday at noon <> .

While Catalyze SV likes this policy direction overall and will be supporting it, we have some medium-sized questions/concerns too, including:

* What was the community engagement process like for this policy? Were key individuals/organizations like you included in it?
* Who should actually get free transit passes?

* Is it, according to VTA’s current Smart Pass policy, to require developers who choose to buy Smart Passes to buy one for every single resident/potential rider in the building? (Changing this policy could negatively affect VTA revenues).
* Or is it better to offer passes to every single resident, such that those who want one can take them and those who don’t will not?
* Should the policy apply to all residents - both those living in affordable AND market-rate homes?
* Should employees also get passes if the project includes office, ground-floor retail, nonprofits, etc.?

* Is VTA’s recommendation to only provide passes for two years sufficient to increase ridership long-term?
* Will removing the free provision of the pass after two years be a hardship on resident-riders who suddenly have to pay the fare?
* Should a public agency compel developers to pay for these passes rather than just have them covered by a two-year grant such as Affordable Housing and Sustainable Communities (AHSC)?

All of this will be a little academic for now because no VTA projects will finish construction for a couple years.

Nonetheless, we want to make sure transit & housing advocates are indeed weighing in as the policy first gets considered. We welcome dialogue with you on this. Thanks for your attention on this issue - Alex

Alex Shoor
Executive Director | Catalyze SV
Get Catalyze SV apparel <> | Schedule time w/Alex <>

*Please note my new email address & our org's new domain*
alex@... <mailto:alex@...> | <>