VTA’s BART Silicon Valley Phase II Extension Project (Phase II) will extend BART service from the Berryessa/North San José BART Station through downtown San José to the City of Santa Clara. The 6-mile project includes four stations, five miles of subway, a railroad yard, and a maintenance facility. VTA will design, construct, and own the completed facilities, and BART will operate the service and maintain the facilities.
One notable feature of Phase II is the innovative single-bore tunnel configuration, which will be the first transit project to use this methodology in North America. The large-diameter, single-bore tunneling method avoids much of the surface level impacts associated with traditional cut and cover construction.
This extension of the regional BART system will provide a fast and convenient transit alternative for major commute corridors, increase access to and from major employment centers throughout the Bay Area, enhance connectivity of regional transit services, promote economic development in the Silicon Valley and improve mobility for transportation-disadvantaged populations.
Investment in Mobility
Increasing transit options and improving mobility for all Santa Clara County and Bay Area residents and employees is a primary objective of the extension of BART service into the heart of Silicon Valley. Phase II will complete a “ring” of rail around the Bay and connect BART with regional and intercity transportation services including:
- VTA light rail, local bus, and regional express bus services
- Altamont Corridor Express
- Capitol Corridor
- Future California High-Speed Rail (HSR)
The Metropolitan Transportation Commission’s (MTC) Plan Bay Area 2040 long range plan identifies the extension of BART service to San José and Santa Clara as the number one priority of the region for improving mobility.
In total, the four new BART stations are projected to have approximately 54,600 average weekday ridership in 2040, which represents 6.9 percent of total anticipated BART ridership, with a projected 27,900 daily ridership at the Downtown San José Station alone. The two stations adjacent to San Jose State and Santa Clara Universities are projected to serve over 5,600 university student trips per day, not including trips taken by staff and faculty.
Economic Development Benefits
Phase II provides a once-in-a-century opportunity to sustainably organize Santa Clara Valley’s future growth around the future BART stations. Each of the four future station areas are designated as “priority development areas” in Plan Bay Area 2040 and are targeted for higher-density development in San José and Santa Clara’s general plans. Transit oriented development (TOD) concentrates growth near job-rich areas, helps create walkable communities, and maximizes the investment in transportation infrastructure.
A key initiative of VTA’s TOD program is advancing Transit-Oriented Communities (TOC). TOC’s are walkable places to live, work, shop, and learn. They provide a diversity of jobs, housing types, and economic opportunities while reducing the risk of displacement and providing affordable housing choices.
VTA was awarded an FTA Pilot Program for TOD Planning grant to work with the Cities of San José and Santa Clara to develop TOC “Playbooks” for the Santa Clara, Downtown San José, and 28th Street/Little Portugal station areas. Implementing the resulting Playbook strategies is estimated to result in 43,000 new jobs and housing for 76,000 new residents - roughly a new downtown San José - within walking distance to the BART stations.
VTA was awarded a second TOD Planning grant from FTA to support implementation of the TOC strategies and framework.
Creating Infrastructure & Jobs
Building transit infrastructure is an investment that pays off in jobs and local and regional economic windfall. Phase II will stimulate the regional economy significantly, not only through direct and indirect job creation, but also by increasing in the Gross State Product (GSP) through additional spending and wages. According to a 2021 economic impact report published by WSP, as a result of the investment in building this transit infrastructure, Phase II is expected to support approximately 75,000 jobs - including almost 43,000 jobs directly related to the project, and another 32,000 jobs tied indirectly or through the impacts of spending from the project. Direct employment supported by the project would also result in over $3.5 billion in new labor income, with a total effect on labor income exceeding $5.6 billion. In addition to new income for the workers supported by these direct, indirect, and induced jobs, the project would also introduce approximately $6.3 billion in new GSP for California.
Building upon a legacy of sustainability efforts and actions, VTA has issued a Sustainability Charter for Phase II. The Charter affirms the project’s commitment to sustainability and ultimately commits the project to use the Envision sustainable infrastructure rating system and to be an Envision certified project. The design teams will include several sustainability elements in design and contract documents to ensure that VTA’s sustainability goals and objectives are achieved.
Phase II would reduce annual automobile vehicle miles traveled (VMT) by 137.1 million miles. As a result, carbon dioxide emissions are estimated to be reduced by 60.2 tons and greenhouse gas emissions by 33,036 tons per year by 2040.
Congestion Relief for Santa Clara County
Currently, San José residents face the longest average commute (39 minutes) and experience the most hours of traffic-generated delay (81 hours per year) and the highest cost of congestion ($2,557 per year) of any urbanized area under 3,000,000 population in the US. While Santa Clara County is forecast to have the largest projected growth in the San Francisco Bay Area by 2040 with over 550,000 new residents and almost 170,000 new jobs, there is no land available to build any new significant highway infrastructure. The expanded BART service is estimated to eliminate over 3.9 million automobile trips per year.
Building Infrastructure in Unprecedented Times
There is no doubt that the loss of transit ridership caused by COVID-19 will be felt in the San Francisco Bay Area - and across the country - for the next few years. However, the population and employment growth that is forecast for Santa Clara County over the next 20 years; the lack of any planned significant roadway expansion within the same period; and VTA’s, the Cities of San José and Santa Clara, and the private sector’s commitment to TOD around station areas all contribute to VTA’s confidence that the 2040 travel forecasts are reasonable, reliable, and defensible. Even before the first passenger, designing and building Phase II will help the region’s post-COVID economic recovery.