After modest beginnings with a small staff and $500,000 annual budget, VCTC now enters its 25th year as the regional transportation planning agency for Ventura County and 20th year as the operator of the county’s most extensive inter-community bus service (VISTA). VCTC is poised to make even greater strides in the next 25 years.
“These milestones are a testament to the commitments of each and every community in Ventura County as well as the dedicated professionals who founded and continue to build this agency,” noted VCTC Executive Director Darren Kettle, who has served in this role since 2007. “In addition to expansion of our intercity bus service, a vibrant Commuter Services program, and extensive improvements to the county road network, we look forward to the next quarter century with great anticipation.”
In recent years, VCTC has expanded VISTA bus service along its Highway 126 route, one of seven popular routes that link nearly every Ventura County city. It has grown its Commuter Services program through extensive work with local employers and highly successful annual promotions such as Bike to Work Week (May) and Rideshare Week (October) which promote ridesharing, healthy lifestyles, and environmental responsibility. In addition, VCTC allocated nearly $279 million in Proposition 1B funds, which has resulted in much-needed highway improvements such as the State Route 118 widening, Highway 101 widening between Ventura and Santa Barbara counties, and Highway 101/23 interchange improvements. VCTC was also responsible for the widening of Lewis Road in Camarillo, which enhanced safety as well as access to CSUCI, and partnered with Caltrans for the widening of the Santa Clara River Bridge on Highway 101 in Ventura.
Just three years ago, VCTC took an innovative approach to youth involvement by creating its award-winning Teen Council program, which provides a voice for local students as well as a link between the Commission and the leaders of tomorrow. Most recently, the Teen Council held a countywide art contest wherein winning artwork would be displayed on VISTA buses. The designs can now be seen on VISTA routes daily, capping a successful youth-driven campaign that created a buzz for local transit. The Commission is considering the launch of a college-level component later this year to continue to engage Ventura County’s future voters and decision-makers.
VCTC has also made it a priority to create a variety of user-friendly resources that match trends and technological advancements. From the redesigned bikeways map to the development of free mobile applications, VCTC continues to explore ways to keep moving well into its next 25 years.
For these efforts, VCTC has garnered widespread national recognition. In fact, VCTC has taken home multiple APTA AdWheel awards in recent years, including a Grand Prize in 2013. These honors drive VCTC to find creative new ways to promote public transportation and get the community involved in countywide issues.
VCTC has also coordinated a wide array of local studies and surveys to target improvements to current needs. One such study was the Naval Base Ventura County Joint Land Use Study launched in 2013, which gave local residents a chance to provide input on land use while still ensuring current and future NBVC missions would not be affected.
VCTC succeeded the Ventura County Association of Governments in 1989. Since then, it has played an active role in countywide transit and transportation planning, debuting its VISTA bus and Dial-A-Ride services in 1994 as well as partnering with Metrolink commuter rail for service beyond Ventura County. At its launch, VISTA was the most comprehensive inter-community program offered in Ventura County. VCTC’s Commuter Services program followed in 1995, with the Guaranteed Ride Home program launched in 1997. Commuter Services coordinates ridesharing countywide and works extensively with local employers to reduce traffic and improve air quality through carpooling and vanpooling.
“Our mission is to keep Ventura County moving,” Kettle added, “And we are committed and equipped to do just that – for generations to come.”