Showing posts with label san jose vta. Show all posts
Showing posts with label san jose vta. Show all posts

Thursday, March 14, 2024

VTA board green lights Eastridge Light Rail extension

Finally, the Eastridge Light Rail extension is officially approved. The project will extend VTA Light Rail from the Alum Rock Station to the Eastridge Transit Center, which is 2.4 miles further down Capital Expressway.

The total cost will clock in at a whopping $653 million, which is $122 million over the original budget. This amount will be covered by the VTA's debt reduction fund.

There is one nice silver lining. The extension is expected to be completed 350 days faster than originally estimated. Trains should be running to the new station by 2028.

Source: SVBJ

Tuesday, March 12, 2024

Estimated BART costs go up again

If you thought $12.2 billion was astronomical for a 6-mile, 4-station extension... I don't have good news. The Federal Transit Administration now thinks the project will cost $12.8 billion and the timeline will be extended to 2037. Reasons behind the cost increase are primarily the volatility of labor and supply costs.

13 years is a long time. We might be living in a post-AGI word (artificial general intelligence) where costs for design and construction could be significantly lower than expected or perhaps new transit options will arise that were not feasible in the past. While I have voted for the BART extension every single time, the consistent increase of cost estimates and timeline adjustments is concerning.

Source: SVBJ

Monday, March 4, 2024

VTA partnering with Beep on autonomous shuttle pilot program

The VTA is leaning into transit innovation by testing out new options for getting people from point A to B. They announced a partnership with a company called Beep that provides a low-speed autonomous shuttle service in a geofenced area.

The first test pilot would be at the Veteran Administration's office in Palo Alto and the autonomous shuttles would replace golf carts that are currently used to move people from building to building. The shuttles will still have a human attendant that can over-ride anything the shuttle is attempting to do.

The pilot was supposed to start several years ago but was delayed by covid. Hopefully it will be one of many as there are several places where a shuttle like this would be useful (Downtown San Jose, Willow Glen, Japantown, perhaps even suburban areas like Evergreen with limited public transit options). I rode a similar shuttle on Treasure Island by a company called Loop and it was great.

Beep also has another pilot in the area. They partnered with the Contra Costa Transportation Authority on a similar shuttle that goes through San Ramon's Bishop Ranch business park.

Source: SVBJ

Sunday, February 25, 2024

The VTA is getting their first batch of new hybrid buses

While metro and rail line extensions are very exciting, they also now cost billions of dollars these days. If you look at the amount of value per dollar in public transit, it is still very tough to beat investing in buses. 

The VTA ordered up 92 "state-of-the-art" hybrid buses that cost $822k each. The buses can operate in all-electric mode for up to 10 miles and improve fuel economy by up to 25% over the old diesel buses they are replacing. Each bus has a 36-passenger seat layout with USB mobile charging ports and wireless stop request buttons.

The first two buses have already arrived and the VTA is now expecting six new buses each week.

Source: San Jose Inside


Tuesday, December 19, 2023

RIP Apollo tower, site of proposed San Jose high-rise sold to VTA

The Valley Transportation Authority (VTA) has purchased two parcels of land that were meant to meant to become a 20-story, Las Vegas-style, 472-unit tower at the corner of Stockton Avenue and Santa Clara Street. The design was quite striking as you can see below.

The VTA is going to use this parcel for the first phase of California High Speed Rail, which might actually beat BART to Downtown San Jose. If the tower was built, the costs to complete Diridon would rise exponentially.

Hopefully this design could be reused on another Urban Catalyst project in Downtown San Jose.

Source: SVBJ

Friday, October 27, 2023

Tamien Station broke ground

A 555-unit midrise project just broke ground in the Tamien neighborhood just south of Downtown San Jose. It's a partnership between the VTA, Core Companies, and Republic Urban Properties and will cost around $270 million to build across three phases.

Phase one is 135 affordable housing units with a 3,000 SQFT daycare. It'll have 20 studios, 44 one-bedroom, 37 two-bedroom, and 34 three-bedroom apartments.

One of the highlights of this project is it will have immediate access to a Caltrain, VTA Lightrail, and multiple VTA bus lines.

Source: SF Yimby

Monday, June 20, 2022

Latest San Jose BART Updates

VTA released a new conceptional video of the new BART station planned for Diridon. The teal accents are a nice nod to the San Jose Sharks. Below the Diridon video is an older one showing the plan for the Downtown San Jose Station, which is just a half-dozen blocks or so away from Diridon.

Hat tip to MrAronymous from the San Jose Development Forum.

Tuesday, November 26, 2019

San Jose is a top city for public transit ridership increase

Between 2010 and 2017, public transit ridership increased by 11% in the US while car use only increased by 6%. What is more interesting--and perhaps shocking--is that San Jose's use of public transit shot up by 46.7%. This was the largest increase in the country during this time period.

Now 46.7% of a small number is still a small number. San Jose didn't rank in the top 10 cities for actual public transportation trips even though we are the 10th largest city in the US. In fact, much smaller cities like Portland, Baltimore, and Boston pushed us to 13th place when it comes to actual usage. That being said, the growth rate is reassuring that things are headed in the right direction and one day we will have more options of getting from Point A to Point B.

BART may finally open in December and that will definitely help our standings. Traffic is getting out of hand, a robust transit system will benefit everyone including those that still want to drive.

For more info and stats, hit the link below.

Source: STORAGECafe

Wednesday, November 21, 2018

VTA's Holly Trolley is back for the holidays!

VTA has a special historic train all decked out for the holidays that loops around Downtown San Jose. The train runs on Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays from November 23rd to December 30th. It runs on the Light Rail tracks between the Civic Center and Diridon Station and is completely free. It is worth seeking out if you are visiting Christmas in the Park, Downtown Ice, or any other Downtown holiday attraction.

For a timetable, click here.

Monday, June 4, 2018

Downtown San Jose BART Station renders

Now that the construction methodology has been finalized for the BART subway in San Jose (single bore), let's have a quick look at the stunning station that is being planned for Downtown San Jose. To call the current design "open" would be a serious understatement. From the lowest point you can look up to the ceiling 145 feet or so above. The layout is modern and welcoming with high tech flourishes throughout. Check out the renders below of what will become one of the most iconic stations in the BART network.

Source: Robertee from the San Jose Development Forum

Tuesday, April 3, 2018

VTA moving forward with single-bore subway for BART

There has been a heated debate on whether to use a twin bore or single bore subway for BART's extension from Berryessa to Downtown San Jose. Proponents of the single bore argued that it would greatly minimize disruption to Downtown businesses as it would avoid gutting all of Santa Clara Street. It would also cut the construction timeline by as much as a year. On the other hand, this type of subway has never been built in the United States and would not be consistent with the rest of the BART system. In the end, VTA staff has officially recommended single bore.

The $4.7 billion tunnel will have a diameter of 47 feet, enough to accommodate two lines stacked on top of one another (see image below). This also means that all of the stations will be on one side of the street.

Two other important related decisions were also made. There a couple options for the Downtown Station: City Hall and on Market and 1st Street. By choosing single bore, VTA was able to select the more central Market/1st Street location without having to shut down the Light Rail line during construction. The second decision was the alignment of the Diridon station. With single bore the station can be built right under Santa Clara Street with easier access to SAP, all without having to close the street down during construction.

Source: SVBJ

Tuesday, December 12, 2017

New mixed-use project proposed off Bascom and Southwest Expressway

Bay West Development is proposing a significant residential and office development right next to Bascom Light Rail station. The 6.4-acre project would have 447 residential units and 200,000 SQFT of commercial space. Today the site is a half-empty strip mall and smog testing station. The residential building would be eight stories (respectable density outside of Downtown) while the office building would be seven stories. There would also be an undisclosed amount of retail on the ground floor and a landscaped public space connecting the two buildings.

Source: SVBJ

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

VTA's BART Phase II Update

Below is a webinar with the latest updates on the $4.69 billion BART Phase II project. This will be the most expensive transit project in Silicon Valley history and add a subway through Downtown San Jose with three stations along with a new terminus station in Santa Clara.

The video is 40 minutes long, but well worth watching if you are interested in transportation projects. One question that came up multiple times is why the heck we are building a completely redundant station in Santa Clara that is already serviced by Caltrain instead of evaluating running BART to San Jose International or Santana Row. Unfortunately, the response was very mediocre--it takes a long time to plan these projects and voters already voted for this specific alignment. I have to say that is a disappointing answer and is completely misaligned with the pace of change in Silicon Valley. It will be 9 years (at least) until this project is completed, so we should make sure we build that most effective system that will maximize utilization instead of making multi-billion dollar errors because we did the easy thing instead of the right thing.

BART itself is built on 45 year old technology. I have been a huge advocate and supporter, but honestly am starting to have doubts that BART will be the most effective transportation solution in 2026. Self-driving cars will completely change the transportation landscape within a decade, and costs will come dangerously close to public transit for point-to-point transportation in a private cabin. I hope that VTA is agile enough to keep up with transit innovations and make sure we are building these epic projects for the future and not for the past.

Video Link

Thursday, January 26, 2017

VTA Next Draft Plan

Fortunately, the VTA logo isn't the only thing that is changing about our transit system. There are significant route changes in the works to coincide with the arrival BART in the fall that sound very promising. In general, VTA is planning to reduce or eliminate routes with very low usage and re-utilizing that budget in highly trafficked corridors.

The proposed changes are too numerous to mention (list over here), but below you can see what the travel times from Downtown San Jose would look like before and after the changes. The area you will be able to get to within 30 minutes of Downtown will roughly double in size. However, your mileage may vary. If you live in the suburbs, say deep in Evergreen or Almaden, then your coverage area will likely shrink. To see exactly how you may be impacted, you can do your own simulation over here.

Current VTA Travel Times from Downtown San Jose

Proposed VTA Travel Times from Downtown San Jose

Our Light Rail system will get a major overhaul as well. The lines will finally be named after colors like most other metro systems in the world and a brand new line will be added that will run from the Alum Rock to Mountain View. Here are the proposed changes:

  • Green Line (902)
    • Northern end would become Old Ironsides
    • Increase frequency from 30min to 15min during the weekday, all day long
  • Yellow Line (Commuter Express)
    • Northern end would become St. James Park
    • Double frequency from 3 trips per peak period to 6 trips
  • Orange Line (NEW)
    • New line between Alum Rock and Mountain View that would connect Light Rail to BART
    • Would run every 15min during the weekday and 30min during the weekend
    • Potential express service is under review
  • Blue Line (901)
    • No changes
  • Purple Line (900)
    • No changes

If all of these changes get implemented that means Light Rail will run every 7.5 minutes (not including express trains) all day long during the workweek throughout all Downtown, Milpitas, Santa Clara, North San Jose, and East San Jose Stations. That would be a significant increase in service.

Monday, January 23, 2017

VTA introduces abysmal, terrible, AND horrific new logo

As regular readers know, I am usually pretty upbeat and optimistic. Unfortunately, this post will be a bit uncharacteristic of this blog... we are making a terrible mistake that will impact the region for at least the next decade. Before I get too it, let me start off by saying that I respect all the hard work the VTA has been putting in on trying to improve local transportation and later this week we will discuss some of the exciting route changes that will have a net positive impact for our city.

Switching gears, let's have a good look at the logo and slogan that will adorn hundreds (maybe thousands) of buses and light rail trains in the region. This is what will represent transportation in the most technologically advanced and innovative region in the entire world:

What... the... %@#&.

The first thing I think of when I see this logo is a Christian Fellowship. I'm Catholic and have nothing against religion, but that is not the vibe a transportation company should exude, except for perhaps a mortuary, hearse manufacturer, or ambulance company. Speaking of which, that is the second thing that comes to mind--a hospital like Good Samaritan or O'Connor. Have one more look.

Next the slogan seeps into your brain... "Solutions that move you." As Sal points out in his piece, "Solutions that move you" makes our transportation system sound like a laxative. That's right, the perception is that VTA is something that helps you go to the toilet. If you think I'm overrating, show the image below without the "Valley Transportation Authority" text to anyone that is not familiar with VTA and ask them what product they think this company produces:

To prove that this is not an early April Fools joke, here is what all of our buses will eventually look like:

Let me ask you, what about this logo represents Silicon Valley? Where do you see innovation, or diversity, or technology, or sunlight, or even transportation in this logo? I can't imagine a more vapid representation of Silicon Valley to slap on the side of our entire transit network. 

How did this happen? There were focus groups, people voted, this was a community decision. This logo is supposed to represent a peaceful ocean and sky, the white reminiscent of a seagull gliding through the air. Of course people are going to like in isolation, the logo reminds them of a vacation in a coastal town. But guess what--we are not Santa Cruz, Monterrey, or Hawaii, and we are definitely not San Francisco. Where does the ocean touch Silicon Valley? When was the last time you saw a seagull gliding through Downtown San Jose? 

This is so misguided, it's apalling. The last time the VTA changed their logo was 1998. That means we could be stuck with this aberration for the next 20 years! We have so many intelligent, creative, passionate people working in San Jose. We shouldn't settle, we can do better than this. We have accomplished so much as a region, we cannot let this be our brand.

Wednesday, December 7, 2016

San Jose BART Station - latest updates

San Jose is just one year away from finally being connected to BART. Below is the latest update from the VTA, which is responsible for the extension to Silicon Valley. Both the Milpitas and San Jose stations should be open in late 2017. Watch the short video below for construction photos and details.

Tuesday, November 15, 2016

Ride VTA's historic trolley during the holidays

The VTA’s "Holly Trolly" is already decked out for Christmas and is circling Downtown San Jose. I did drop the ball a bit since it actually began service on October 14th with a Halloween theme.

The Trolley operates between the Civic Center and San Jose Diridon light rail stations and the best part is that the ride is completely free all holiday season!

Riders can expect some fun surprises including a Virtual Reality experience using Google Cardboard. Don’t forget your smartphone and to download the Cardboard app through Google Play or the App Store, or view VR videos on YouTube.

Instructions for Google Cardboard:
1. Download the Google Cardboard app, then select your video. Or select a VR video on YouTube.
2. Place your smartphone in the front of the Google Cardboard and secure your device.
3. Push the play button on the side of the Cardboard to start your video.
4. Enjoy your VR experience!

2016 Historic Trolley Service:
October 14 through December 31, 2016.*
Fridays                             6:30 p.m. - 10 p.m.
Saturdays & Sundays      2:30 p.m. - 10 p.m.

*Weather permitting. Please check for updates on service.

For more details and to plan your trip, call VTA Customer Service at 408-321-2300 or check the schedule and hop on board!

The Historic Trolley, Car 2001, was built in Milan, Italy in 1928 where it originally operated until the mid-1980s when it was donated by the Italian government to the San Jose Trolley Corporation. VTA's Car 2001 is one of six restored trolleys maintained by VTA.

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

San Jose Bus Rapid Transit overview video

VTA's first Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) line is getting closer to reality. Despite several delays, the line connecting East San Jose and Downtown should be fully operational in 2017. The blue hybrid "accordian" buses are already being used on the route. These are the nicest buses in the VTA fleet with comfortable seating, free WiFi, and bike racks both inside and outside the bus.

When the BRT line is complete, each stop on the route will get stations similar to Light Rail. These will have real time information for arrival times, local artwork, bright lighting, and 24/7 security cameras.

The other major improvement that BRT will bring besides the stations is faster travel times. This will be accomplished using dedicated bus lands in the median of Alum Rock Avenue as well as transit signal priority (green lights will stay on longer if a bus is present). You also won't have to worry much about catching a specific bus since they are only 10 minutes apart during peak hours.

Have a look at the 3 minute video below for a quick overview of the new system.

Wednesday, March 16, 2016

Envision Silicon Valley - preliminary VTA project evaluations

The VTA has started doing very early research on a variety of potential future transit projects. It would almost definitely take an increase in sales taxes for any of these to become reality, but it is interesting to see the ideas that are being tossed around.

There were several projects in the study that are already well into planning-mode. These include BART to Downtown San Jose, a Light Rail extension to Eastridge Mall, a Light Rail extension to Los Gatos, and expanding the Express Lane system on our freeways. However, there were also brand new projects that I have never heard even mentioned before. This include a billion dollar Downtown San Jose Subway (nice!) that would significantly speed up the whole Light Rail system, a $1.5 billion Light Rail line that would go from Downtown San Jose to Santana Row/Valley Fair and eventually De Anza College, a new Light Rail line that would go from that NASA/Bayshore station to North Bayshore in Mountain View, and a ton of highway interchange improvements.

You can find some of the project "evaluation cards" below, but I recommend going through the whole list over here.

Source: Robertee from the San Jose Development Forum

Sunday, January 31, 2016

VTA Plan for the Super Bowl

There are going to be some major VTA route changes during the Super Bowl next week. The most substantial of which is a complete closure of Light Rail in front of the stadium itself. If you are one of the lucky ones with Super Bowl tickets and are planning to take Light Rail to the big game--or you just plan on using Light Rail at any time on February 7th--you should watch the video below.