Big changes coming to Valley Transportation Authority bus routes in South Bay

SAN JOSE, Calif. (KGO) -- The Valley Transportation Authority will usher in a new era of bus and light rail service, beginning Saturday, with its biggest service changes in more than a decade.

Riders can expect greater frequency on 20 of the agency's most popular bus routes, as well as the debut of a new light rail line.

In preparation, dozens of VTA employees are in the process of swapping out old bus signs at nearly 3,300 stops across Santa Clara County over the next two days.

"We've been working on this since 2016," said VTA spokesperson Brandi Childress. "We were getting ready for the new BART service to come into Milpitas and North San Jose area and we knew that was a great opportunity to really look at the service and see where we might make our biggest gains in ridership."

VTA officials say local ridership has been declining over the past four years. Despite that, urban planning experts say there's still demand for high quality and reliable service.

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"If you have to take two or three different kinds of buses and trains, that's where you really start to lose the big percentages of riders," said SJSU urban planning instructor Kelly Snider. "You want to be where people are starting their journey, and get them to where they're ending it."

The new service plan incorporates community feedback that was gathered over the past year and a half.

However, some routes are being eliminated, such as the one used by transit activist Monica Mallon, who travels from Cambrian Park to San Jose State University on a daily basis.

"I'm hopeful that we can stop this from happening in the future and actually bring these routes back and do other things that will really make transit a better option for a lot of people," said Mallon.

As part of the switch, the VTA is offering free rides to the public Saturday through Tuesday.

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