'Hotel 22' Bus Stay Should Stay In Service, VTA Says

April 08, 2019 - 12:31 pm

PALO ALTO —The VTA bus line nicknamed "Hotel 22" by many homeless riders is safe for now as transit officials in the South Bay have decided not to eliminate overnight service. 

The 22 line running from San Jose to Palo Alto has essentially been a shelter on wheels for years. People without homes often ride it overnight, as a safe place to sleep, especially when temperatures dip or a storm brings rain to the area.

A shock wave went through homeless advocates and transients who use the bus earlier this year when the Santa Clara Valley Transportation Authority proposed eliminating service in the early morning.

"On really, really cold nights, I will [ride it,]" said Terry, who does not have a home and uses a wheelchair. "What if some person died [when] it was cold out there?...That would be on [them]." 

On Friday, the VTA changed course and instead recommended continuing with line's overnight schedule, according to the San Jose Spotlight. The VTA will work with social service organization to help passengers that are homeless, the recommendation said. 

The VTA is in the middle of a budget crisis, and is looking everywhere to cut costs. 

"Ridership is going down, costs are going up," said VTA spokeswoman Holly Perez. "So we've been asked by our board of directors to make some tough choices when it comes to bus and light rail service around Santa Clara county."

But bus driver Jeff Fender says in his opinion, the transit agency is mismanaging its finances. 

"The more money that the VTA gets, the less they say they have," said Fender. 

The VTA board will vote next month on the 2019 transit plan, which will ultimately decide the future of Hotel 22.