Due to the potential scale of changes to the transit network that could be considered as part of the Next Network Plan, VTA started the process of reimagining the transit network by seeking public input on how transit could be improved. A five month long community engagement process was conducted from May 2016 through September 2016 and consisted of a dozen community meetings, four community leader workshops, many guest presentations, surveys, blog posts and social media posts designed to collect feedback on how VTA could make its transit service better.
We heard the following things loud and clear:
- Shorten trip times
- Improve connections to BART and Caltrain
- Make transit service more frequent
- Make transit faster
- Spend public funds more cost-effectively
VTA conducted a Transit Choices Survey at public meetings as well as online asking how respondents would choose between competing aspects of transit service. We posed each question as a choice along a spectrum between two aspects of transit service and asked respondents to place a dot (or for online survey takers, drag a slider) along the spectrum indicating their preference among those factors. For example, would you rather that public transit operate more frequently or operate for longer hours?
Responses that support elements of current transit service:
- You said you wanted more transit service on weekdays than weekend
- You said you wanted more transit service in peak than off peak
Responses that indicate a desire for changes to current transit service:
- You said you preferred frequent service that required transfers over infrequent service that was direct
- You said you would be willing to walk farther to more frequent service
- You said you would be willing to walk farther to faster service
VTA also conducted a Ridership Preference Survey that asked respondents to imagine they were on VTA’s Board of Directors and to vote on their preferred ridership/coverage balance. To provide context for that decision, VTA developed three network concepts that explored what the transit network could look like at different balances of ridership and coverage services. Here’s what you said:
The average of all responses was an 80.2/19.8 ridership/coverage balance.
In general, we noticed that the more time a person spent learning about how transit works and the ridership/coverage tradeoff, the more likely they were to support a more ridership-oriented concept. Those who attended community meetings and four-hour intensive community leader workshops, which were attended by many leaders of community organizations that represent low-income, disadvantaged and transit-riding constituencies, preferred an 85/15 ridership/coverage balance. As such, the 85/15 balance was the basis for the staff recommendation and Board action at the November 18 Board of Directors Workshop.