With little fanfare and limited press coverage (compared to Caltrain's Baby Bullet a few years ago), VTA rolled off its express light rail trips. The new trips go from Santa Teresa to Baypointe and do not stop between Ohlone/Chynoweth and Convention Center stations. The cars used for the express trips have special blue and orange wrap and also have free wifi.
VTA Boardmember Sam Liccardo and general manager Michael Burns were on the platform at Ohlone/Chynoweth waiting for the first train to arrive from Santa Teresa. Other VTA top brass were there as well. There were no speeches nor ribbon cutting. However some riders were treated with free Red Bulls and newspapers. Liccardo boarded the first northbound express train presumably heading to the City Hall.
When a northbound express train arrives, another one deadheads to Santa Teresa.
At other stations, signs are in place to warn others about express trains that won't stop.
The express light rail is an experiment whether operational changes can bring in additional riders, similar to how the Baby Bullet has transformed Caltrain. MTC is conducting a regional study of transit sustainability and recently found that Caltrain has raised ridership and improved cost effectiveness compared to most transit agencies (including VTA) because of the Baby Bullet. Caltrain is now considering providing weekend Baby Bullet service, despite deficit, to draw more riders.
The light rail system however is very different from Caltrain, so the opportunities to speed up service are limited. Let's see whether skipping stops and having onboard wifi will help draw riders.