The Santa Clara Valley Transportation Authority (VTA) is a California independent special district providing bus and light railservice to the nearly 2 million residents of Santa Clara County and serving as the region’s congestion management agency. SantaClara County is truly multicultural with more than one-third (37%) of the county residents being foreign born. Currently, the Asianand Pacific Islander population makes up approximately 37% of the population with the White population at 32%, the Latinopopulation at 28% and the African American population at 2.7%. The County is expected to grow to nearly 2.2 million by 2060.VTA employees approximately 2100 people and enjoys a high level of gender and ethnic diversity in its workforce.
VTA’s mission is particularly compelling because of its location. The Silicon Valley region includes immense wealth and is well-known for its innovative economy. It also has the country’s highest housing and living costs as well as deep and abiding disparitiesamong its residents and communities. Racial disparities are persistent and growing in the area with disproportional numbers ofLatino and African American residents living below the poverty level. Those without significant resources are often forced to livesignificant commuting distances from their jobs or education and from the cultural vibrancy of the City of San Jose and other hubsof activity in order to afford their homes. Basic components of a thriving life are often out of reach for many communities of color,making fast, frequent and reliable public transportation essential to access and opportunity for all residents of the County.
VTA has committed, through its strategic plans, to the incorporation of equity, inclusion and diversity as core values of the agencyand to continuously expand pathways for embracing those values enterprise-side. VTA has started the work toward its vision withthe creation of its Diversity Committee and the ongoing work of the Employee Advisory Committee, both comprised of employeesacross all sectors of the organization. Recently, the General Manager placed the offices of Civil Rights and Diversity and Inclusionunder (direct supervision with a place on the Executive Team. The leadership team is committed to strengthening theorganization’s commitment to equity and all its programs, services and plans, recognizing that VTA has the opportunity andprivilege of making real and lasting difference in the lives of marginalized community members.
This year, VTA will take its next step in this journey by joining GARE and forming the first cohort to participate in GARE’s year-longcurriculum. VTA’s vision for GARE membership is to take a deep dive into inequities and marginalization and the impact onproductivity within the organization and our service to the larger communities. We seek to learn how to better confront and talkabout racial equity and spread those abilities throughout the enterprise. We strive to incorporate real racial equity practices andgoals into VTA’s planning, construction and service. Building on the work that has already begun, VTA’s vision is to build on itsexcellent base and seek ways to better serve all the residents of the County. VTA is ready to take on the challenge of fulfilling itsvision of consistently providing an essential tool for all residents to thrive, grow and fully participate in life in the region.