While BART and the Santa Clara Valley Transportation Authority (VTA) still hope to have the $2.3 billion Berryessa Station in San Jose ferrying passengers by the end of 2019, the project has missed a critical final deadline.
Last week, VTA announced that the new station, which would provide a 10-mile extension into Silicon Valley, has begun “pre-revenue operations”—i.e., the final phase of testing before allowing riders onboard—at Berryessa, which includes training BART staff on the ins and outs of the new stop, as well as simulated service to help iron out scheduling kinks.
[Correction: The $2.3 billion budget and 10-mile extension includes Milpitas Station as well as Berryessa Station.]
It’s a big milestone for the long-planned BART foray into the South Bay, but it comes late.
Earlier in the year, BART spokesperson Alicia Trost told the San Jose Mercury-News, “Service will not start on December 28, 2019 if VTA does not resolve the discrepancies necessary for BART to start Pre-Revenue Testing by October 21.”
It looks like the transit agency blew that target by a week. But VTA spokesperson Bernice Alaniz says they can still make the end-of-2019 goal, writing that the new station is “on track to begin prior to the year’s end.”
Trost now tells Curbed SF that the October 21 deadline “was prior to BART and VTA coming to an agreement to start pre-revenue testing with a condensed testing schedule” and that “the goal remains to open for service by the end of the year.”
BART previously shrank its usual 90-day testing period for a station to just two months in an effort to finish by year’s end. Trost says the new agreement “allows time each day for both testing and time for VTA to resolve remaining discrepancies.”
Earlier this year, BART said it hoped to start carrying passengers to the new station by November 1, but VTA pledged service “no later than December 31, 2019.” As months went by, both agencies aligned their goals around a December-or-bust plan.
Plans for San Jose BART service stretch back to the 1950s and the earliest days of BART planning. VTA broke ground on Berryessa Station in 2012. Once upon a time, service was planned for as far back as 2015.
When finally complete, the trip from downtown San Francisco to San Jose will finish take roughly 60 minutes. VTA estimates that by 2030 some 25,000 passengers will enter and exit the station daily.