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Light Rail Speed and Safety Enhancements

*Map is showing new service plan when BART begins service in 2019

Project Description

The Speed and Safety Improvements are part of a program identified in VTA’s Light Rail Systems Analysis and Efficiency Study (2010).

The Light Rail Speed and Safety Enhancements study has reviewed a series of speed and safety features designed to enhance light rail operations and efficiency. This study has developed conceptual designs and recommendations for safety, speed, and reliability enhancements in three study areas: one along North First Street, one in Downtown San Jose, and one comprised of key, low-speed zones and specific spot locations throughout the system. 

Project Goals

  • Enhance safety, mobility, and access for all travelers
  • Improve travel times and reliability for transit passengers
  • Increase transit ridership
  • Support community input and adopted land use and mobility policies

Current Activities

  • Advancing project definition, technical studies, and conceptual design
  • Stakeholder outreach
  • Advancing signal timing changes on North First Street
  • Final Design f a Pilot Project in Downtown San Jose
  • Securing additional funding

North First Street

The project area is along North First Street between Interstate 880 (I-880) and Tasman Drive. Light rail currently operates at 35 mph in the median of this stretch of North First Street which includes eight light rail stations and over twenty intersections. The Project is focused on transit signal priority and traffic signal programming. Green lights will hold as the light rail approaches the intersection which will improve travel time. Traffic signals will be reprogrammed to adjust timing based on traffic patterns. This will reduce the time a green light is held after vehicles and pedestrians have crossed an intersection. The removal of left turns on Tasman at North First Street will reduce wait time for light rail, vehicles, and pedestrians. This plan is coordinated with the City of San Jose. A final recommendation and signal design will be available in late 2018.

Downtown San Jose Safety Enhancements and Pilot Project

A six-month pilot project developed to improve safety will be implemented on 2nd Street between San Fernando and San Carlos Streets. VTA will install lighting, signage, roadway striping, and a protective railing.

The objective is to test the effectiveness of the treatments designed to encourage predictable pedestrian, bicycle, and vehicle behavior near the tracks. Predictable behavior could reduce potential conflicts and improve light rail operations downtown. Treatments will also be evaluated for indirect impacts such as maintenance and cohesiveness with the transit mall aesthetic. Effective treatments could remain and later applied in more areas of the transit mall as the first step to increase operating speeds. 

Slow Speed Analysis

Several locations throughout the light rail system that could potentially operate at higher speeds. VTA is studying various locations and is generating a list of potential projects that would enhance speed and reliability. These projects will generally include changes to signal timing, modifications to existing operations, and minor capital enhancements. 

Project Schedule

North First Street Design - Complete late 2018
Downtown San Jose Pilot Project - Late 2018-June 2019
Slow Speed Zone Analysis Study - Continuing

Fact Sheets 

Contact Us

VTA Community Outreach
Phone: (408) 321-7575
TTY Only: (408) 321-2330


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