Santa Clara VTA continues to grapple with tragedy's operational impacts

June 1, 2021
Light-rail service remains suspended, the bus bridge has been halted and the transit authority says it cannot provide reliable service due to limited staffing levels.

The Santa Clara Valley Transportation Authority (VTA) is implementing service changes June 1 as it continues to deal with impacts from last week’s shooting at Guadalupe Light Rail Yard which left nine of its employees dead.

“The May 26 tragedy at the Guadalupe Light Rail Yard continues to affect VTA transit service. As the VTA Family grieves, attends funerals and supports each other, we have less staff available to operate reliable transit service,” the authority said.

Light-rail service, which is dispatched from the Guadalupe Yard, was suspended indefinitely following last Wednesday’s incident. However, the bus bridge intended to replace light-rail service will not operate due to limited staffing.

Santa Clara VTA is focusing its existing resources toward its regular bus network, but explains even that service will be negatively impacted by limited staffing levels.

“We apologize for the inconvenience and ask our riders for their patience and understanding while we work to navigate this unprecedented circumstance,” said Santa Clara VTA.

In a message posted on Santa Clara VTA’s website, Interim General Manager and General Counsel Evelynn Tran recounted the authority’s difficult year and noted how inspiring the authority’s employees have been since the events of May 26.

She says her priority and the priority of the agency will be the well-being and health of its employees:

“Unlike many other organizations sadly faced with similar tragedies, VTA faces a responsibility to deliver service particularly to the transit-dependent and disabled. Despite the recent trauma and sadness, our people continued to try to meet this responsibility; after remaining on the job during a 15-month pandemic and a crippling attack on our technology systems. Our employees showed up.

“Now, our primary focus is the well-being and health of our people. I have directed staff to make our people our first priority. We will marshal all the resources we can to assist our people through this. It will mean providing less service to the community than we would wish. But healing our organization must be our first priority.

“For the immediate future, the light-rail system is shut down. At this point, it is impossible to estimate when service can be restored. There are many factors involved in restoring service, most importantly the human factor.”

Tran offered her thanks to the County of Santa Clara, the county Sheriff’s Department, San Jose Police and Fire, union leadership and peer agencies who put forth offers of aid.

She added, “Everyone in our VTA family is impacted by this. None more so than the immediate families of the victims. We are working with them to make sure they receive the help and support they need during this terrible time.”

About the Author

Mischa Wanek-Libman | Group Editorial Director

Mischa Wanek-Libman serves as editor in chief of Mass Transit magazine and group editorial director of the Infrastructure and Aviation Group at Endeavor Business Media. She is responsible for developing and maintaining the editorial direction of the group and is based in the western suburbs of Chicago.

Wanek-Libman has spent more than 20 years covering transportation issues including construction projects and engineering challenges for various commuter railroads and transit agencies. She has been recognized for editorial excellence through her individual work, as well as for collaborative content. 

She is an active member of the American Public Transportation Association's Marketing and Communications Committee and serves as a Board Observer on the National Railroad Construction and Maintenance Association (NRC) Board of Directors.  

She is a graduate of Drake University, where she earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in Journalism and Mass Communication with a major in magazine journalism and a minor in business management.