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|Locale||Santa Clara County, California
Cities: Campbell, Milpitas, Mountain View, San Jose, Santa Clara, and Sunnyvale
|Transit type||Light rail|
|Number of lines||3
(plus 1 peak hour express line)
|Number of stations||62
(plus 4 planned)
|Daily ridership||33,400 average weekday riders
|Annual ridership||11.03 million (2015)|
|Website||Santa Clara Valley
|Began operation||December 11, 1987|
|Operator(s)||Santa Clara Valley Transportation Authority|
|Number of vehicles||99 Kinki Sharyo light rail vehicles
|Train length||90–270 feet (27.43–82.30 m)
|System length||42.2 mi (67.9 km)|
|Track gauge||4 ft 8 1⁄2 in (1,435 mm) standard gauge|
|Electrification||Overhead lines, 750 V DC|
|Top speed||55 mph (89 km/h)|
VTA Light Rail (reporting mark SCCT) is a light rail system serving San Jose, California and its suburbs in Silicon Valley. It is operated by the Santa Clara Valley Transportation Authority, or VTA, and consists of 42.2 miles (67.9 km) of network comprising two main lines and a spur line on standard gauge tracks. Originally opened in 1987, the light rail system has gradually expanded since then, and currently has 62 light rail stations in operation on the three lines. VTA operates a fleet of 99 Kinki Sharyo Low Floor Light Rail Vehicles (LFLRV) to service its passengers. The system's average weekday daily ridership as of Q4 2015 is 33,400 passengers; the greatest daily average recorded over a month was 37,536 in June 2008.
VTA Light Rail
VTA operates 42.2 miles (67.9 km) of light rail route on 3 lines. There are 4 major corridors of light rail which the lines run on. The first and most important is the Guadalupe Corridor in South San Jose along CA-87 north to Tasman Station, which runs through Downtown San Jose and the business areas of central and North San Jose. It is serviced by two lines, making frequency along this corridor around 7.5 minutes. Other corridors include the Tasman East/Capitol Corridor in East San Jose, the Mountain View/Tasman West corridor in Northwest Silicon Valley, and the Winchester corridor, which services communities in Campbell and West San Jose. Frequency along these corridors are around 15–30 minutes.
All the lines and the corridors they run through are designed to move commuters from the suburban areas of Santa Clara Valley into the major business areas in Downtown, the Santa Clara County Civic Center, and the high-tech and office areas of northern Silicon Valley. Light Rail also serves to connect commuters/travelers to the San Jose International Airport, Diridon Station and the transit systems it serves: (Caltrain, ACE, the Coast Starlight, the Capitol Corridor); and moves LRT riders to and from Silicon Valley, the Greater Bay Area, and beyond. Eventually BART and California High Speed Rail will connect with light rail and the other rail systems served by Diridon Station.
Designated as 901, this line runs from the Alum Rock Transit Center in east San Jose near Alum Rock to Santa Teresa station in the Santa Teresa neighborhood of San Jose, passing through Milpitas and downtown San Jose on the way. When BART inaugurates service from Fremont's Warm Springs Station to San Jose's Berryessa district (estimated mid 2018), this VTA line will connect with BART's Milpitas Station at VTA's Montague Station. There are 36 stops on this line. South of downtown San Jose, the line operates in the median of State Route 87 and 85. A proposed future expansion will extend the line past Alum Rock along Capitol Ave. and Capitol Expressway to the Eastridge Transit Center, which would effectively duplicate (and possibly replace) the current service by the 522 bus line along this corridor.
Introduced in October 2010 as a complementary service to the Alum Rock–Santa Teresa light rail line, the weekday, peak-period only Commuter Express light rail service currently operates between Baypointe and Santa Teresa stations. This service, with three trips each in the morning (to Baypointe) and in the afternoon (to Santa Teresa) stops at every station, with nonstop service between Convention Center and Ohlone/Chynoweth stations. This service offers free WiFi on board, and fares are the same as other local light rail services.
Designated as 902, this line runs from Downtown Mountain View station in Mountain View through Sunnyvale, Santa Clara, and San Jose along Tasman Drive, North First Street, Downtown San Jose, and the Southwest Expressway on its way to its terminus at the Winchester station in western Campbell. It has 37 stops, 14 of which are shared with the Alum Rock–Santa Teresa Line. To reach San Jose Diridon Station (interchange to Amtrak and commuter rail services) the line tunnels under the station and rail yard. South of Diridon Station, the line travels alongside Union Pacific Railroad freight tracks en route to Winchester.
Designated as 900, this is a 3-stop spur from the Ohlone/Chyoweth station to Almaden station at the Almaden Expressway in the Almaden Valley. The Ohlone/Chynoweth station provides connection to the Alum Rock–Santa Teresa Line, the intermediate stop serves the Westfield Oakridge mall, and the Almaden station connects to VTA bus service. The shuttle, which runs a single 1-car train, takes about 4 minutes to travel between Ohlone/Chynoweth and Almaden. This line has one track, with sidings at Almaden and Ohlone Chynoweth.
With the commencement of BART service to San Jose, light rail operations will be reconfigured to provide for increased ridership. Lines will be referred to by colors: Alum Rock–Santa Teresa will retain its Blue Line; Mountain View–Winchester will be truncated to Old Ironsides station, but will also retain the Green Line; the Almaden Shuttle will be recolored to the Purple Line; Commuter Express will gain the designation of Yellow Line (with service doubled to six trains during commute hours); and a new Orange Line will run from Alum Rock to Mountain View.
Unusually for light rail systems in the United States, most VTA Light Rail stops are made by request. Similar to VTA's bus network, passengers must be visible to the operator while waiting at stations, and must notify the operator using the bell before the train arrives at their destination. Trains will typically skip stops if no one is waiting on the platform and no one requests to disembark.
As of January 2018[update], the fare for one single ride for adult passengers is $2.25. This fare is standard for both Light Rail and Bus transit, and is good for two hours of travel. No transfer fees between light rail vehicles are required, but upon inquiry riders must provide a proof-of-payment. Passengers without a ticket could be fined up to $250, under Penal Code 640.
From 1987 until September 2003, the system was served by a fleet of high-floor light rail vehicles built by Urban Transportation Development Corporation. In 2002, VTA introduced new Kinki Sharyo low-floor light rail vehicles. The low-floors initially operated only on the Tasman West line (Downtown Mountain View to I-880/Milpitas) because their floor height only matched the 14-inch (360 mm) platform height along that line. After VTA reconstructed platforms along North First Street from the Japantown/Ayer stop northward (with wooden ramps provided for the lead car's front door elsewhere), VTA replaced the entire fleet in 2003 with low-floor LRVs. Currently, all stations provide level boarding at all doors.
|Type||Car numbers||Manufacturer||Built||Into service||Status||Seats/
|High-Floor LRV||801–850||Urban Transportation Development Corporation||1987||1987||Retired 2003||67/155||50|
|Low-Floor LRV||900–999||Kinki Sharyo||2001–2005||2002||In service||64/170||100|
On March 21, 2008, at approximately 7:10 p.m., a southbound 2-car light rail train derailed just north of the Virginia station. Four people, including the train operator, were injured, and the train was heavily damaged. At the time of the accident, trains were operating on a single track through the area because of construction at three nearby light rail stations. The train involved was attempting to switch between tracks when it derailed. VTA ruled out mechanical or equipment failure as a cause for the accident. An investigation indicated human error ("the train traveling southbound stopped over the switch and reversed, which are violations of operating rules").
VTA has considered plans to increase the overall speed of its light rail system. These include adding fences along track on North First Street, which would increase speed along this corridor to 45 mph, and a new Great America station to better facilitate transfers to commuter rail.
In 2000, voters approved Measure A, which was to provide funding for two new light rail corridors. Some of the proposed corridors were through office parks in Sunnyvale and Cupertino, an extension further into Santa Teresa and to Coyote Valley, Stevens Creek Boulevard, El Camino Real, and routes in North County and Palo Alto. However, VTA ultimately opted to build line going through Campbell to Winchester and the Vasona Junction, a route along Alum Rock Avenue to Downtown San Jose, and an extension along Capitol Expressway.
VTA completed most of the Vasona extension in 2005, and plans to begin construction on the light rail extension along Capitol Expressway in 2012. However, VTA lacked sufficient funds to build light rail along Alum Rock Avenue. The originally planned light rail route in Alum Rock, as well as one on El Camino Real, will instead be built as Bus Rapid Transit (BRT).
In 2005, VTA extended light rail service to Winchester station, completing most of a proposed light rail extension to Los Gatos, California. The Vasona Light Rail Extension would complete the original proposed extension. The additional extension is 1.57 miles long and will run alongside Union Pacific Railroad lines. Construction will include lengthening of platforms at the Winchester, Campbell, Hamilton, Bascom, Fruitdale and Race stations. Two new stations (Hacienda and Vasona) will be constructed with the entire project costs projected to be $157 million. The VTA Board of Directors approved a Supplemental Environment Impact Report in February 2014 . The construction schedule is dependent upon available funding.
The first phase of the light rail extension will continue south of the Alum Rock station to the Eastridge Transit Center. Running on an elevated median along Capitol Expressway, it will be designed to provide a competitive commute time to driving on the expressway, which is generally considered one of the most congested traffic corridors in Silicon Valley. In 2012, VTA finished improving pedestrian and bus conditions on Capitol Expressway, with new sidewalks, bus shelters and improved landscaping. Eastridge Transit Center was rebuilt in 2015. Construction of the extension is scheduled to begin in 2019 and be complete in 2022. There will be two stations: Story Road and Eastridge, with an optional intermediate station at Ocala Avenue. The pedestrian improvements and first phase of construction is expected to cost $60 million. The second phase of extension will travel south of Eastridge into South San Jose and will connect with VTA's Capitol station. 
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