VTA wants to halt DASH
Blog post by Scott Knies, Executive Director, San Jose Downtown Association
February 14, 2017
The free Downtown Area Shuttle (DASH) that averages more than 1,000 riders daily Monday–Friday between Diridon Station and San Jose State University (SJSU) is on the chopping block.
Valley Transportation Authority (VTA) proposes curbing DASH and substituting a new bus route between Diridon Station and the Berryessa BART station. The new route would traverse downtown on Santa Clara Street and riders would pay regular VTA fares.
San Jose Downtown Association (SJDA), SJSU and SPUR oppose the end of DASH and are registering concerns about the proposal to the VTA board.
“Eliminating the DASH shuttle is another counter productive move which will affect SJSU students, senior citizens and our low-income residents who rely on this service to get around downtown,” said Ann Webb, a member of the San Jose Downtown Resident’s Association.
DASH averaged 1,032 daily riders in 2016. Ridership peaked in September at 1,224 and dipped to 859 in June, corresponding to the SJSU semester calendar. DASH primarily operates on San Fernando Street, a route that will become increasingly important once BART subway construction starts under Santa Clara Street.
“BART is a five-year construction project with major impacts near Diridon and First Street where stations will be built,” said Chloe Verrey, SJDA Operations Manager. “Now is definitely not the time to end DASH service.”
SJDA helped initiate DASH in July 1996 when Adobe Systems, Inc. first moved downtown. Adobe was leasing space in Riverpark before its first office tower was completed and the free shuttle connected employees taking Caltrain to the downtown core.
Adobe, SJDA, City of San Jose Dept. of Transportation, SJSU, VTA and regional air quality grants all contributed to fund DASH, which VTA contracted out to private shuttle vendors until taking it in-house in 2007.
From July 2005 to January 2008 VTA changed the DASH route to Santa Clara Street, but ridership lagged as the shuttle took longer to negotiate traffic congestion. Since returning to San Fernando Street, ridership has rebounded, peaking at 1,046 average-daily riders in 2015.
“It’s surprising VTA wants to eliminate DASH and put another bus route on Santa Clara Street again, especially with the BART construction looming,” Verrey said.
Cutting DASH is just one of the many route and schedule changes proposed by VTA in their NextNetwork plan that aims to improve the agency’s overall fare box receipts and operations. See the plan at nextnetwork.vta.org.