Additional buses added after San Jose VTA filming suspended

VTA sent additional buses to help fill gaps in streetcar service after Wednesday’s mass shooting. But now it’s going away too.

The transit agency shut down streetcar service after an employee opened fire on the agency’s rail yard near downtown San Jose, killing nine people and then himself. It is not known when the service will resume.

“Management is in discussions on how to resume service in the short term, as well as what the plan to resume service in the long term will look like,” VTA spokeswoman Stacey Hendler Ross said in San José Spotlight. She asked for the patience and understanding of the public as the agency works to get the light rail system back up and running. “We are doing our best to balance the needs of passengers with the needs of our employees to have the time they need to deal with the tragedy of the past week.”

VTA has yet to confirm a timeline for the resumption of light rail service, adding that it still does not have full access to the Guadalupe light rail facility where the shooting took place.

The transport agency operated “bus bridges”, or modified bus lines that mimic the routes and stops of the tram. But these were also suspended from Tuesday because the agency is understaffed. VTA said all bus services will experience at least some delays due to understaffing.

“I know it’s really hard to cope with a lack of service and transportation. I fully understand why riders are frustrated, ”said Monica Mallon, a frequent VTA user and advocate for local transit. Mallon, who uses VTA services almost daily, said his commute has increased by about 30 minutes since last week’s mass shooting shut down the streetcar service. “But it’s understandable that this is the situation. I just hope the riders try to have patience and sympathy for what everyone at VTA is going through.

VTA’s light rail service connects residents along the peninsula from Mountain View to San Jose.

At least one of the workers killed on Wednesday, Tim Romo, 49, had extensive knowledge of the complex tram system. According to Mercury News, only Romo, a 22-year airline veteran, and his team have received the special training required to approach the 800-volt overhead lines that power light rail trains.

Hendler Ross told the San José Spotlight that Romo was not the only employee trained in overhead line work.

For now, VTA has asked people not to wait or congregate at light rail stations and instead find a corresponding bus route to use.

“There are bus stops that will require you to walk a bit. I don’t know if people are up to it, ”said Eugene Bradley, founder of the local transit advocacy group. Silicon Valley Transit Users. He added that delays of up to half an hour are not uncommon.

Bradley is hoping VTA and sister transit organizations will continue to “help each other” to supplement services, which shut down over the weekend. Over Memorial Day weekend, AC Transit, which primarily serves the western parts of Alameda and Contra Costa counties, offered service in Silicon Valley.

According to AC Transit spokesperson Robert Lyles, VTA told AC Transit that it no longer needs bus bridge services.

“I understand that, okay, VTA – especially the light rail staff – they need time to mourn and deal with (Wednesday’s) events. At least have some sort of alternative, ”Bradley said. “Why was this agreement not extended until the return of the trams? “

Hendler Ross told the San José Spotlight that VTA is evaluating what other outside sources are needed to help with the service, if any.

VTA, already grappling with staffing difficulties due to the pandemic, also had to deal with a cyber ransomware attack in April which closed several of its servers, including one that kept track of its paratransit service for people with disabilities.

In recent months, tensions between the VTA employees’ union, Amalgamated Transit Union Local 265 and the management of the transit agency have increased.

Union officials accused managers of failing to protect ATV drivers and operators during the pandemic. The union lobbied for boarding through the back door amid a surge in COVID-19 cases among VTA workers and asked for support for the application of the mask warrant on its vehicles.

“I have asked the staff to make our people our number one priority,” Evelynn Tran, Interim Managing Director of VTA. written on company blog Monday. “We will mobilize all the resources we can to help our people get through this ordeal. This will mean providing less service to the community than we would like. But healing our organization must be our first priority.

The FBI’s evidence team is said to have completed its work on Sunday. Reports indicate that the shooter became more and more unhappy with work in recent years. The motive for the shooting is still unclear.

Tran added that the transport agency is working to provide resources to help employees and families of victims deal with Wednesday’s shooting.

“Together, we will plan ways to commemorate and remember our lost colleagues,” Tran said. “They will never be forgotten. “

For more information on the VTA service, call its hotline at (408) 321-2300, email [email protected] for other travel plans or go to vta.org.

Contact Lloyd Alaban at [email protected] or follow @lloydalaban on Twitter.

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