State giving VTA $20 million after deadly San Jose rail yard shooting

State giving VTA $20 million after deadly San Jose rail yard shooting
Photo Credit: VTA
By Wesley Severson - Published on June 30, 2021.

Santa Clara County's Valley Transportation Authority (VTA) is expected to receive $20 million dollars in state funds in response to the late-May mass shooting that left nine VTA workers dead. One of the goals for the money is to help workers and families try to move on from the massacre. It will help provide mental health services and counseling to impacted employees and their families.

The other purpose for the funding is to help get VTA’s light-rail service back up and running. It has been shut down since May 26th, when some of the light-rail equipment and computers were damaged in the shooting. 

Some of the money is expected to go toward upgrades that will improve safety at the Guadalupe Rail Yard in downtown San Jose where the shooting happened.

According to San Jose Spotlight, the funding is included in the state budget and will go directly to the VTA which means the agency will decide exactly how to spend it. It’s unclear so far how much of the $20 million will be earmarked for worker recovery, site improvements, and damage repairs.

State Senator Dave Cortese represents much of Silicon Valley and proposed the bill. He says dozens of workers who witnessed the massacre still can’t find the resources they need to deal with the trauma. He says this last-minute addition to the state budget will change that. 

"They've lost their team and they aren't really clear as to what safety measures have been put in place before they come back or what kind of assistance there is for them,” Cortese said at a press conference Monday

Amalgamated Transit Union Local 265 President John Courtney said at the press conference “these families are very scared and afraid but we absolutely have to let them know that there was a process in place to take care of all the family members.”

Assemblymember Ash Kalra, who represents San Jose, also helped spearhead the bill. He said, “this immediate injection of resources to keep the trains running and to make sure we’re able to help workers get through this very difficult time is a great sense of comfort for all of us.”

It’s still unclear when light rail operations will resume. As for the Guadalupe Rail Yard, so far there are no concrete plans as to what safety improvements could happen, but for now the VTA will be adding more safety training for employees.

According to KQED, some local leaders and VTA officials are considering the possibility of demolishing the rail yard altogether but those talks are only in the early stages.