Friday, July 07, 2006

San Jose Grand Prix and Light Rail

With the Grand Prix race track crossing the VTA light rail tracks in two different locations, the VTA light rail system will be split in more than two pieces during the Grand Prix weekend.

On Friday, July 28, the lines from Alum Rock and Mountain View both end in downtown San Jose, and the line from Santa Teresa will have through routing to Winchester. Like last year, a bus bridge will connect the two light rail segments in downtown San Jose.

The fun part begins on Saturday, July 29, through Sunday. The line from Mountain View will end at Baypointe, and passengers will have to transfer light rail from Alum Rock to downtown San Jose. Like last year, the line from Santa Teresa will only be partially rerouted to the new Vasona line and end at San Jose Diridon station. Service from Winchester will end at Race station, one stop south of San Jose Diridon. Passengers from the Winchester line will have to transfer to a bus to downtown San Jose and connect with other light rail lines.

Normally a system with two main lines through downtown San Jose will be cut into four pieces and the plan will add a great deal of confusion among all light rail riders. For those from Los Gatos and Campbell, this means that they won't be able to take light rail directly to the race track on the Grand Prix weekend.

In its publicity materials, VTA didn't specify any reason to cut the Mountain View line back to Baypointe or cut the service from Winchester away from downtown San Jose, and VTA also did not explain whether additional light rail service would be provided on the Grand Prix weekend.

According to the plan, it is speculated that three car trains will be used throughout on the Santa Teresa line on the weekend. Along the new Vasona extension, only San Fernando and Diridon stations can accomodate three car trains. All platforms south of the Diridon station are one car length shorter than other stations. By ending the service from Winchester to the Race station, it seems that VTA is planning to isolate the less frequent one/two car-service with the more frequent three-car mainline service from Santa Teresa.

In addition, VTA has indicated in its documents that the Paseo de San Antonio station will be in service for the Grand Prix. When VTA closed the station for construction in February, VTA planned to reopen in October. Due to the criticisms and pressures from local businesses and San Jose State, VTA internally accelerated the construction schedule.

No comments: