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Light Rail System Analysis Introduction

Santa Clara County’s light rail system has grown over the years as a series of V T A light rail vehicle extensions. In May 2010, VTA completed the Light Rail System Analysis, a 2-year study which provided the first-ever comprehensive evaluation of the system’s effectiveness in meeting present and future market needs.

The light rail system analysis represents the second phase of VTA’s Comprehensive Operations Analysis (COA) for the transit system. A COA for the VTA bus system was completed in 2007 and provided the framework for the re-design of the bus network introduced in January 2008.

The study acknowledges some of the significant challenges in developing a more efficient system:

  • The system is underutilized when compared to peer properties (this comparison graph which illustrates how VTA compares to its peers).
  • The system does not offer competitive travel time, particularly for choice riders (this map shows how light rail compares to auto travel for two sample trips within the County).
  • The system’s routing and transfers are a deterrent to greater market share, given demand and travel patterns in the county (this map illustrates travel market demand – the thickness of the green lines indicates the strength of the demand for travel between the end points).

Improvement Program

The final product of the Light Rail System Analysis is an investment program for the light rail system which identifies recommended improvements for the system over the next 20 years. This investment program serves as a guide for VTA to make operational and capital improvements to the system. For example, the capital improvements from the Plan will be incorporated into the agency’s next Short Range Transit Plan. The study recommends making improvements in two phases. Phase I is designed for near-term implementation (within the next several years), while Phase II is designed to complement the introduction of BART service to East San Jose in 2018. The major changes for each phase are highlighted in the following pages.

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