VTA delves into Bus Rapid Transit

Three BRT corridors emerge as the most promising for Santa Clara Valley Transportation Authority

The Santa Clara Valley Transportation Authority (VTA) in San Jose, CA, is making headway on enhancing transit service along major travel corridors in Santa Clara County following an assessment of new Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) service on six potential corridors. Based on existing transit demand and operating performance, land use, transit competitiveness, market potential and what is physically possible to construct, three emerged as the most promising alignments for near-term implementation – the Santa Clara/Alum Rock being the first, followed by El Camino Real and Stevens Creek Boulevard.

Santa Clara/Alum Rock
The Santa Clara/Alum Rock BRT project will provide limited-stop service for 7.2 miles, from the Eastridge Transit Center to the Arena Station in downtown San Jose. BRT buses will travel the route in a mixed-flow capacity that features a dedicated bus-only lane in the median separated from traffic on Alum Rock Avenue, and rely on transit signal priority throughout the route to improve travel time. Modern hybrid BRT buses will operate during the peak times with service every 10 minutes to 11 specially enhanced stations.

The total cost for the Santa Clara/Alum Rock Bus Rapid Transit Project is $114 million, $90 million of which will come from the State of California’s Proposition 1B funding. The remaining $24 million comes through a dedicated local funding source for VTA capital projects known as the 2000 Measure A Transit Improvements Program. Construction begins this fall.

El Camino Real
The plan for The El Camino Real BRT project is to upgrade the existing Line 522 express service to BRT status, which will improve reliability and travel times for the 15,000 weekday riders that take either the 522 or local Line 22 daily. The El Camino Real BRT runs from the Palo Alto Transit Center to the Eastridge Transit Center through downtown San Jose and serves 26 BRT rail-like stations along the way.

At this time, VTA is conducting an environmental analysis for several project alternatives. Once completed in late spring 2014, VTA will release a Draft Environmental Impact Report for public review and input. Following the public review period, VTA’s Board of Directors will consider input from public stakeholders, each of the cities along the corridor and Caltrans, which owns El Camino Real, to select the preferred alternative to pursue.

Funding for the selected alternative for El Camino Real BRT would come from local Measure A and FTA’s Small Starts Program, in which VTA received approval in August to enter into the Project Development phase under the funding program.

Stevens Creek
The Stevens Creek Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) project under consideration would provide rapid transit service for 8.6 miles from DeAnza College to the Transit Mall in downtown San Jose using San Carlos Avenue and Stevens Creek Boulevard. The Stevens Creek BRT project would enhance the newly added Line 523 express service to BRT service, providing faster, more frequent service, with limited stops and enhanced amenities for passengers. The Stevens Creek BRT project is currently in the preliminary planning stage.