Streamlining the VTA

Assembly Bill 1091 (Mark Berman) proposes to address a problem that has detracted from the Santa Clara VTA’s effectiveness for decades. In the last 17 years three successive grand juries have called attention to the VTA’s management, operational and capital improvement practices and recommended ways of improving the situation. These recommendations have been largely ignored.

In 2004, the Santa Clara Civil Grand Jury found that the operating performance of VTA “compared unfavorably to its peer organizations, and that a root cause of VTA’s poor performance was the structure of the VTA board, which was too large, too political, too dependent on staff, too inexperienced in some cases, and too removed from the financial and operational performance of VTA.” The Grand Jury of 2009 reached similar conclusions. 

The 2019 Civil Grand Jury again revisited VTA’s governance and found that VTA’s performance “has continued to deteriorate over the last ten years, and that the VTA Board has not provided adequate oversight”.

Frustrated by these continuing problems and the lack of VTA follow-through, District 24 Assemblyman Berman‘s AB 1091 was developed because “Santa Clara County transit riders, residents, and taxpayers deserve a VTA board that has the time and expertise to provide high quality direction and oversight of VTA.” The primary objectives of the bill are 

  1. to reduce the size and otherwise alter the VTA Board to make it more efficient and increase ability to oversee the activities of its staff 
  2. to ensure that regional priorities as well as local concerns are given their proper due and
  3. no matter how the VTA Board is changed, to make certain that nominations to the reconstituted Board include individuals with adequate expertise in transportation and transportation infrastructure, accounting, finance, and executive management. 

At this point AB 1091 has a long ways to go in the State Legislature so it’s difficult to put a final stamp of approval in what’s currently in the draft. However BATWG is 100% behind the intent of the bill, which is to make certain that VTA’s Board has the time, commitment and expertise needed to provide the Agency with consistently high quality direction and oversight. Santa Clara County’s transit riders, residents, and taxpayers deserve no less.

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