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Morgan Hill
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October 16, 2021

Fix VTA’s wasteful spending habits before considering measure to raise taxes

EDITOR: Recently, it has made the news that the Valley
Transportation Authority is in a serious financial crisis. One
consequence of this is that some people are now trying to find a
way to raise taxes to fund the VTA. Before opening our wallets, we
should take a good look at why the VTA is in such dire straits.
EDITOR:

Recently, it has made the news that the Valley Transportation Authority is in a serious financial crisis. One consequence of this is that some people are now trying to find a way to raise taxes to fund the VTA. Before opening our wallets, we should take a good look at why the VTA is in such dire straits.

The problem is not that the VTA is underfunded. The VTA is one of the best-funded transit agencies in the nation. The real problem is that the VTA has the second-highest operating expenses in the country. It costs us $134 to run a bus for one hour. The national average (median) is $58. We have higher costs than every other major transit agency in the country.

The reason is not the cost of living, or the fact that the VTA covers a large area. San Mateo County has both, and they manage with $108 per hour. The real problem is that the VTA became accustomed to cash during the dot-com boom.

For example, in 1996, it took 2.42 employee hours to run a bus for one hour. Now it takes 3.15 employees to keep that same bus running. The national average is 1.91 Why does the VTA need 65 percent more people to do the same job?

As another example, the VTA has roughly one fulltime administrator per bus (1,955 hours per year). That is four times the national average. There is no reason why we should need this many administrators. The VTA should not need four administrators to do a job that Santa Barbara and New York City can do with one. (Both get by with 486 administrator hours per bus.)

There is no good reason for this level of waste. Before asking for more money, we need to fix the VTA’s spending habits.

Greg Perry, VTA Policy

Advisory Committee member,

Mountain View City Councilman

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