It took months, but the Santa Clara County transit agency is almost fully back in action.
VTA announced a extension of light rail service earlier this week to include the entire blue line, which connects Baypointe to Santa Teresa.
This means that the only part of the light rail system that has yet to be reactivated is a section of the green line from Diridon station to Winchester station in Campbell. VTA spokeswoman Stacey Hendler Ross told the San José Spotlight that the agency carried out a train test on Tuesday night and was waiting for an update on how that went before fully resuming service. .
“VTA works regularly to reactivate the whole system,” she said. “There is no precise estimate yet of when this will be accomplished.”
VTA is set to restore its three-line rail network following a mass shooting in May at Guadalupe Station in downtown San Jose that forced the agency to stop trains for nearly three month. The agency previously estimated it would restore light rail service by the end of July, but canceled that schedule to deal with traumatized workers, repair equipment and establish temporary work sites. Limited light rail service resumed in late August, with VTA bringing workers back to visit the light rail yard for the first time since the shooting.
VTA offered passengers a bus bridge service while the streetcar was down, but some commuters were still upset with the closure of the 40-mile streetcar network which has affected thousands of people who depend on trains to get to destinations across the southern bay, from Mountain View to San José.
VTA also announced this week that free fares for the light rail that were due to end on September 12 will extend through September 30. But users are still complaining about the return of the service to their neighborhoods.
“Great. Those of us beyond Diridon are still stuck,” Mark Romoser wrote in a comment on the VTA website.
Transport advocates say they are happy to see the agency reopen its rail network.
“I am thankful and grateful that the tram is being restored”, Eugene Bradley, founder of Silicon Valley Transit Users, told the San José Spotlight. “It shouldn’t have taken that long.”
Bradley said that after the first World Trade Center bombing in 1993, the Trans-Hudson Port Authority, which operated a line near the site, resumed service in about a week. He is concerned that the VTA and other Bay Area transit agencies may not be able to quickly restore service in the event of a natural or man-made disaster.
“The Bay Area is not prepared for this in general,” he said.
A more immediate concern for VTA is getting the public to re-acclimatize to the presence of the trains. Hendler Ross said pedestrians, cyclists and drivers should be aware of trains, especially at intersections.
“One of the most common occurrences is when a car ignores the left turn signal and drives off when the train signal is activated, crashing into the train,” she said. “We want to remind our community to be familiar with all signals and warnings, and to always watch for trains near the system.”
Contact Eli Wolfe at [email protected] Where @ EliWolfe4 on Twitter.