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San Jose BART plan absolutely, completely late

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Every trick in the book couldn’t get trains running to Berryessa Station before December 31

A white light-rail train on elevated tracks, with the tops of trees and buildings visible as it passes. Photo by Sheila Fitzgerald/Shutterstock

Breaking their original promise, BART and Santa Clara County’s Valley Transportation Authority (VTA) fessed up last week that service to San Jose just won’t happen this year, and that early 2020 is the best for which anyone can hope.

The writing has been on the wall about the 2019 schedule as BART and VTA attempted a last-ditch effort with a new shorter testing schedule that would have shaved a month off the process, allowing passengers to use the new Berryessa Station in North San Jose by the end of the year. That plan didn’t work.

But the two agencies have concluded that “in the interest of achieving a safe and reliable start of revenue service, a more practical work plan needs to be developed,” VTA spokesperson Bernice Alaniz wrote on November 15.

Defaulting to the standard method of testing will “result in the start of passenger service after December 31, 2019.”

The South Bay transit agency’s official timeline does not specify a finishing date for the Berryessa Station.

Berryessa Station is part of a 10-mile, $2.3-billion extension of what is now called the Warm Springs line, an expansion that also includes the planned Milpitas Station (also delayed until next year).

Proposals for San Jose BART service stretch back to the 1950s and the earliest days of BART planning. Berryessa Station has been under construction since 2012; it is now five years overdue from its earliest service estimates.

The planned downtown San Jose BART station, approximately six miles from Berryessa, may take as long as 2030 before it takes on passengers.