New bus route enhances safety for south Los Altos students

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Megan V. Winslow/Town Crier
Passengers board a Valley Transit Authority bus. Starting later this month, the VTA plans to offer a bus route that stops near Homestead High School and Cupertino Middle School.

As the winter season approaches, Cupertino Middle School and Homestead High students from Los Altos will have another option for getting to and from school: the new Valley Transportation Authority Route 51H.

Homestead Dean of Students Steve Puccinelli made the official announcement about the new line at a Nov. 20 PTSA meeting. The route is expected to begin operating Dec. 28, along with changes to other VTA routes.

The existing Route 51 runs along Grant Road; the new 51H extension will turn onto Homestead Road to drop off students near the schools. The extension is aimed at mitigating traffic on Homestead Road and helping students avoid safety hazards.

“We see Route 51H as a big step forward for safety to and from school for families in Los Altos,” Puccinelli said in an email. “Much discussion has happened about the route along Homestead Road from Foothill Boulevard to school, and this bus route provides a safe and practical way for students to traverse the route.”

According to Cupertino Union School District spokeswoman Leslie Mains, district officials are excited because the new route will give students an opportunity to use public transportation to get to and from school.

“We have been working with (the VTA) for over a year on this and we are so excited about the community effort behind this – parents, City and School District Leaders and most importantly, VTA,” Mains said in an email.

It was “a long process to get the VTA to agree to open the new route,” Puccinelli said. The route was first pitched a few years ago, but he said the VTA initially concluded it would be too costly. In the spring, the VTA determined that it was possible to modify Route 51 to serve students.

He added that Los Altos Mayor Lynette Lee Eng and VTA board chairman John McAlister largely led the effort. Lee Eng said the idea for the route came from local residents.

“I heard from many people who are frustrated with the traffic on Homestead,” she said in an email. “I have also heard from many parents who wanted a bus program so that Los Altos children would be able to get to Cupertino Middle School and Homestead without adding to the congestion.”

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