VTA kicked off its first Ask VTA of 2024 with an update on the state of its light rail system and information about what’s to come in the near future, which includes overhead wire and rail repair work, a new vehicle pilot, and the start of construction on the Eastridge to BART Regional Connector (EBRC).
The event began with a quick overview of VTA’s light rail system, which includes 60 stations and approximately 42 miles of track, making it one of the nation’s largest systems. Service is currently running at 96% of pre-pandemic levels. Service is expected to reach 100% later this year with a return to 20-minute intervals on weekends. Some late-night trains will be replaced with bus service to allow for more maintenance to take place during the overnight window. Details are available on the 2024 Transit Service Plan.
Staying on the topic of maintenance, VTA staff shared that segments of light rail lines will again be out of service this summer to allow for the repair or replacement of portions of the overhead wire system. Rail ties (rectangular rail supports) and ballast (the crushed stone beneath ties and rails) will also be replaced during planned shutdowns.
Ask VTA participants also learned about the process underway to replace the agency’s aging light rail vehicle fleet. With current trains expected to reach the end of their useful lives in the next 7-10 years, staff are currently learning more about replacement options. Among the factors to consider include the length of vehicles, bicycle capacity, ability to move within the train, customer convenience, and propulsion system. A pilot program where prospective trains can be tested on the VTA system is expected in 2025.
Closer on the horizon is the start of construction for the EBRC light rail extension, which is expected this spring. This 2.4-mile extension starts at Alum Rock station and consists of an elevated light rail station at Story Road and an at-grade station located at the Eastridge Transit Center.
Our 2024 Ask VTA slate continues Thursday, February 29 with an extended 90-minute Q&A focused on VTA's BART Silicon Valley Phase II Project. Join us to ask questions about construction, tunneling, future stations and more! Interested participants can RSVP on Eventbrite.