The Valley Transportation Authority may eliminate its only bus offering overnight service, the 22 line.

Mike Colgan/KCBS Radio

Overnight Bus That's Popular With Homeless People May Be Eliminated

Mike Colgan
March 08, 2019 - 4:37 pm

SAN JOSE — Citing the need to cut costs, the Santa Clara Valley Transportation Authority (VTA) is proposing to put the brakes on its only 24-hour bus route, which de facto doubles as an overnight shelter for people who are homeless. 

The VTA is proposing to eliminate service between 1 and 4 a.m.

The 22 line runs from Palo Alto to East San Jose, making it the longest in the county. It’s also affectionately nicknamed “Hotel 22” because it provides heat and shelter to many looking to escape the recent grip of cold and rainy nights. 

Douglas Taylor spends almost every night riding the bus.

“It keeps me out of the cold,” he said. “I can sleep at the same time, so by the time I wake up, I’m refreshed. I can go look for work.”

It's so popular that it can actually be tough to find a seat after midnight. 

Housing and homeless advocate Shaunn Cartwright said many people prefer riding the bus than going to a shelter.

“If you think about it, it has security, it is not subject to weather, so it’s safe. It’s warm. It’s secure,” she said. “It’s well-lit, there’s full-time security. There’s cameras capturing anything that happens there, and you can’t say that about almost any other shelter.”

Cutbacks to the the 22 is is one of 70 changes being considered because the system is facing a huge deficit, according VTA spokeswoman Holly Perez.

She said eliminating a few hours of service on the 22 line could save the agency about $500,000 a year. The agency is working with social services to come up with a solution for people who depend on the line for a safe place to sleep, she said. 

Cartwright isn’t buying it.

“Shelter beds aren’t going to fall out of the sky,” she said. “Nobody is building new shelters.”

A final decision is expected in May.