Speeding Up Downtown Light Rail

VTA Light Rail making turn on Downtown streets

What is the status quo and what have we heard from the community?

The VTA light rail system offers fast and convenient transportation in much of San José. But trains slow to a crawl as they travel through the downtown core. This is because there are several places where the light rail system crosses paths with cars, pedestrians, and bicyclists.

What is being contemplated as part of this big move?

The Plan is exploring potential solutions to speed up light rail and make it a more competitive and attractive way to travel. The two following options would make light rail faster and more reliable. Both heard support from the community during earlier outreach.

Diridon Station to Saint James Park Tunnel: Removing the light rail from street-level traffic and creating a tunnel would result in a much faster line. Once completed, the time to cross downtown would be dramatically reduced. However, there are tradeoffs. The construction and development process would be costly. It would take several years, be highly disruptive to current travel conditions, and likely result in only one station that serves downtown.

First St. Light Rail: A less costly and disruptive option might include consolidating light rail onto First Street. This would remove the First Street/Second Street split, which many people find a bit confusing to navigate. It would speed up light rail and make the service easier to use, which could attract and keep riders. If this effort were to move forward, we could re-envision Second Street. This might mean introducing new street front eateries, shops, and high-quality bicycle and pedestrian infrastructure.

Return to the Big Moves Survey.