The Santa Clara Valley Transportation Authority (SCVTA) celebrated its 25th anniversary April 11. The light-rail system began as a 6.6-mile segment and has grown into 42.2 miles, 62 stations, 21 park and ride lots and a fleet of 104 trains and trolleys.
“When light-rail service first opened its doors in Santa Clara County, it marked a crucial first step and a new era for modern transit service,” commented Rod Diridon, Sr., SCVTA board supervisor. “Every new rider on the system meant one less person driving their car to work, school or elsewhere. It meant that people had a new choice in travel that would one day expand and support the grand vision of connecting people to jobs and neighborhoods throughout the entire Bay Area.”
SCVTA says its transit investments in Santa Clara County have been a catalyst for attracting jobs and residential developments and are helping local communities shape more efficient, attractive and dynamic environments. Since 1989, the $3-billion in public transportation investment has generated more than $13 billion in private development around a half-mile radius of light-rail stations. This represents approximately one-third of all private development value in Santa Clara County and tens of thousands of jobs in the region.
To meet the demand of job and population growth, SCVTA has identified both operational and capital improvements to the light-rail system that will yield benefits to local residents, businesses and SCVTA riders. Four goals guide this effort: increase ridership, speed up the system, spend transit dollars wisely and actively respond to the changing needs of the valley.
Two months ago, SCVTA began construction on track improvements in Santa Clara that will improve service reliability and ultimately serve SCVTA’s light-rail connection to Bay Area Rapid Transportation (BART). By the end of the year, construction to double-track the line from Mountain View will be under way, which will result in faster travel times, fewer delays and improve light-rail connections to Caltrain. And system wide track and other infrastructure improvements will enable SCVTA to expand to all-day express service and increase train speeds throughout various parts of the system.
By 2017, when BART service extends through Milpitas and into San Jose, SCVTA will have a new light-rail line operating peak hour express service from Mountain View to Alum Rock, providing Santa Clara County residents better connections to Caltrain and directly serving the regional BART system at the Milpitas Transit Center.
“While the past has laid a solid foundation that will continue to yield benefits, the future offers unparalleled potential,” said SCVTA General Manager Nuria Fernandez. “With all of the improvements planned for light rail, SCVTA will revolutionize this region’s mobility through a fully integrated transit network, connecting with bicycle and pedestrian facilities and linking high-tech jobs with homes and activities.”