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BART to Santa Clara Wastes Billions

VTA officials are considering single or double bore tunnels for BART to Santa Clara. Image: VTA

Five months ago Friends of Caltrain published an analysis on why BART’s $4.7 billion extension to Santa Clara is such a poor investment of taxpayer dollars:

“In particular, the segment from Santa Clara to Diridon is a duplicate of Caltrain service, in a segment that has plenty of capacity. Caltrain ridership has increased over two times over the last decade, and popular peak hour trains show a high level of crowding.

However, Diridon-Santa Clara has plenty of room. According to Caltrain’s recent ridership counts, there were only 39 passengers heading Northbound getting off in Santa Clara (coming from Diridon or points South) and only 11 passengers heading southbound from Santa Clara in the morning (Santa Clara to Diridon).”

If Caltrain has plenty of room between Santa Clara and San Jose Diridon stations, and many travelers have some other transportation choices, including bicycling and VTA bus routes 22 and 522, why build BART there too? BART is even more extra service where it’s not needed.

“Analysis shows that VTA could get more transit service for the money by refraining from building the extra BART station, and using the money instead to increase Caltrain service frequency to match BART frequency in Santa Clara County.

Another concern regarding the environmental benefits and financial viability of the [Santa Clara BART] station is the demonstrated reluctance of the City of Santa Clara to build transit-oriented development at the station location and nearby in the transit shed.”

Despite the multi-billion dollar cost, VTA is still clinging to the obsolete idea of taking BART all the way to Santa Clara, and will present station location options and the tunnel boring methods at the August 25 and September 22 Board of Directors meetings. The meetings are scheduled for 9:00 am when many residents are working. The final “project description” of the final environmental review will be approved at the Board’s October 5 5:30 pm meeting.

VTA officials consider to the locations of the Santa Clara and Alum Rock station to be fixed, but are choosing between two locations for the Downtown station and the Diridon station. Officials are now pushing for a more costly single 45-foot wide tunnel under Santa Clara Street rather than two 20-foot tunnels as assumed previously.