SAN JOSE (KPIX 5) — BART says it’s hoping to open its San Jose extension in a couple of months, even amid the coronavirus pandemic. BART and VTA say worker health is their top concern as many operational milestones to opening the extension are being checked off.
BART is now running test trains into Silicon Valley and putting drivers and staff on simulated service runs, one of the very last steps before full, so-called revenue service can begin.
“They start running trains on the actual schedules and as we reach each and every milestone, we’ll be able more precisely predict that opening date,” said VTA spokesperson Bernice Alaniz. BART and VTA are still hedging, after earlier opening date predictions came and went.
But in the latest BART to Silicon Valley update, BART engineers presented a slide to the BART board showing most of the remaining tasks will be completed by early June, with one exception: the timing of a CPUC safety review, which could come sooner or later.
“We have made significant progress and we are nearing a time to open the system and begin passenger service in the very near future,” Alaniz said. Both transit agencies are taking steps to protect staff from the coronavirus, which so far has not affected operations.
But if shelter-in-place orders are still in effect in Santa Clara County in June, it could provide a sort of soft opening for the system without a huge number of commuters.
“It could give us an opportunity to gradually ramp up, so that could be seen as a positive,” Alaniz said.
As the remaining milestones are reached, VTA and BART officials will announce the new opening date for train service in Silicon Valley, and the opening of stations in Milpitas and North San Jose’s Berryessa Station.