New Caltrain data highlights redundancy of BART Diridon to Santa Clara

New information from the Caltrain business plan highlights the redundancy of VTA’s planned BART segment from San Jose Diridon to Santa Clara station.  Caltrain’s new data shows that there is so much pent up demand that the Caltrain line is likely to get crowded again, even with capacity increases.

But, even with the highest capacity increase option that the Caltrain board is considering, the segment between Santa Clara and San Jose will have plenty of room.

So VTA’s plans to extend BART from Diridon Station to Santa Clara, with tracks running parallel to Caltrain, and a brand new station parallel to Caltrain, will spend hundreds of millions of additional dollars, not counting the operating funding, to create new rail capacity where is already plenty of room on a rail line that the region has just spent $2Billion to electrify and upgrade.

Connecting BART from the Berryessa station, which will be the end of the line in the current phase of the Santa Clara County extension, to Downtown and Diridon with many homes, jobs, and educational institutions, and connections to Caltrain, VTA and other regional transit, will be beneficial.  But the Caltrain information is more evidence that the redundant Diridon Santa Clara segment is wasteful.

Meanwhile, VTA is studying a range of high capacity transit corridors, including the Stevens Creek corridor with the County’s second highest ridership bus line.

For many years, the extension from Diridon to Santa Clara has been considered politically  untouchable, because Santa Clara’s voters have historically preferred blue BART trains over red Caltrain trains. To be fair, the original plans for the Santa Clara County BART extension were made back when Caltrain ridership was a fraction of the current ridership, long before Caltrain electrification was funded and under construction, and before the recent Caltrain business plan is setting a vision for much more  level boarding, making it functionally equivalent to BART.

Now, as VTA’s leaders wrestle with a financial crisis, where they are needing to cut service per rider, there may be greater willingness to update capital plans to fit current realities, and current land use plans.

VTA will be working on their upcoming two year budget in April, May and June, and the efforts to complete the funding for Phase 2 of BART to Santa Clara will be happening in the coming year.

Here is the schedule for the upcoming VTA budget process between now and June. You can send a note to board.secretary@vta.com and feel free to share your thoughts with us in comments or by email, friends@friendsofcaltrain.com

vta-budget-sched

Santa Clara-Diridon not crowded

Connecting BART from Berryessa – the last station in the current phase under construction – to Downtown San Jose and Diridon Station will be beneficial, connecting to the