VTA to end RV permit program for employees with long commutes

The Santa Clara Valley Transportation Authority (VTA) is looking to phase out a program that allowed drivers to sleep in RVs in their parking lots. This comes as housing costs are higher than ever, but also at a time that VTA is dealing with a budget shortfall. 

Many of the drivers live in places like Stockton and Manteca, because they can't afford to live in Silicon Valley.

VTA drivers often have hours-long commutes on top of their long shifts on the road.

Henry Martinez is one of them. He says, "You know who the commuters because we call each others zombies."

And so for the last 20 years, VTA has given out RV permits allowing weary drivers to safely sleep on their lots.

It's a program drivers say they loved and one that's about to disappear.

Martinez says, "We hear that they're going to take that away from us. And it's like wow the really don't care."

VTA says the program simply isn't a viable long term solution the the area's housing problems, plus they cite a strain on their resources.

Holly Perez with VTA says, "There's people that need to maintain and regulate the permits and security that has to patrol that area so it's just time to look at other alternatives for housing here in the area."

There are only 28 people currently using the RVs. But the driver's union, ATU Local 265, says more would like to.

They wish VTA would reconsider.

John Courtney with ATU Local 265 says, "I can't imagine the cost being that great to process 28 permits. And they have security guards there anyway so I can't imagine it being that costly for them. Really what is the cost? So we would encourage VTA to grow the program."

VTA currently plans to phase out the program through attrition. The union worries what will happen to exhausted drivers when it's gone.

Courtney says, "Our drivers are some of the safest in the world and we'd like to keep it that way."

For now VTA says they'll continue to renew existing permits but that no new ones will be issued.