Santa Clara VTA unveils new paratransit vehicles

March 1, 2024
The new 14 new ProMaster 3500 paratransit vehicles will help improve transit efficiency and accessibility.

The Santa Clara Valley Transportation Authority (VTA) has introduced a fleet of 14 new paratransit ProMaster 3500 vehicles, set to start service on March 1, 2024, for Santa Clara County, Calif., residents who rely on ACCESS Paratransit.

“This initiative underscores our commitment to inclusivity and accessibility in our community,” said Cindy Chavez, chair of the Santa Clara VTA Board and Santa Clara County Supervisor. “VTA also offers travel training to empower more people to navigate public transportation independently."

Santa Clara VTA notes the ProMaster 3500 vehicles allow for a softer and quieter ride compared to previous models, a seatbelt monitoring panel for added safety and the latest Q'Straint ONE™ all-in-one wheelchair securement platform, which not only ensures better security for wheelchair and scooter clients, but also reduces the physical labor for operators. The new fleet can accommodate up to seven ambulatory passengers and one wheelchair user. 

Santa Clara VTA says the enhancements come as a direct result of valuable community and the Committee on Transportation Mobility and Accessibility (CTMA) feedback, leading to adjustments such as the inclusion of an emergency rear exit and a reconfigured floor plan to better meet the needs of passengers.

“What is going to make this program successful is the participation of the disabled community, you need to step up and voice your concerns and your compliments,” said Lupe Medrano, the second vice chair of the CTMA.

In addition, the unveiling event served as the kickoff of two initiatives:

  • The “Coffee with the Community Program”, an ACCESS Paratransit quarterly community engagement event designed to promote engagement and communication between the agency's paratransit department and the community. The events will take place at various locations throughout Santa Clara County
  • The “Mystery Rider Program”, an initiative that aims to evaluate and improve the quality of service provided to ACCESS passengers. By employing anonymous mystery riders, the agency seeks to identify strengths and weaknesses in the paratransit service, promoting continuous improvement and ensuring an inclusive and positive transportation experience for all riders

The Open House also marked the launch of Phase II of the Mobility Assistance Program (MAP). The goal of MAP is to deliver transportation options that overcome barriers for the Equity Priority Communities to access essential services such as jobs, healthcare, housing, education and civic engagement. 

“Transit agencies like Santa Clara VTA will continue to evaluate what we can do for you,” said Derik Calhoun, Santa Clara VTA COO. “The practices that we put in place to ensure that we provide the best service that we can provide, these things are under my supervision and they are as important to me as they are to you.”
Santa Clara VTA already implemented MAP Phase I as a partnership with Community Based Organizations to kick off the agecny's low-income transportation program as a pilot program.