At long last, it’s official: BART is finally coming to the South Bay.
Officials from the Santa Clara Valley Transportation Authority (VTA) and BART made the announcement today, saying the Milpitas and Berryessa stations will begin passenger service on June 13, pending final regulatory approval.
The 10-mile, $2.3 billion Berryessa project extends BART service from the Warm Springs in Fremont through Milpitas and on to North San Jose, marking its first venture into Santa Clara County in the transit agency’s 55-year history.
“It’s been 30 years [of various leaders] being involved in trying to bring BART into San Jose,” Santa Clara Board of Supervisors President and VTA Board Chair Cindy Chavez said at today’s grand opening ceremony.
Chavez was flanked by San Jose Mayor Sam Liccardo, BART Board President Lateefah Simon, VTA General Manager Nuria Fernandez, BART GM Bob Powers and Silicon Valley Leader Group (SVLG) CEO Carl Guardino at the signing ceremony, the last milestone certifying the safety and security of the Berryessa extension.
“Efforts to bring BART service to Santa Clara County have been decades in the making,” state Sen. Jim Beall (D-San Jose) said in a statement.
Beall, who was not present today at the event but offered his congratulations on the milestone, helped secure billions in public funding as a Metropolitan Transportation Commissioner and through several legislative bills he authored as the chairman of the Transportation and Housing Committee.
Tuesday’s announcement comes at a time when ridership on BART is down 90 percent during the pandemic. The Milpitas and Berryessa BART stations are part of the Phase 1, 10-mile extension into San Jose, and were supposed to begin service two years ago.
However, those plans were derailed—at least temporarily—due to a variety of issues. Phase 2 will extend service from Berryessa through downtown San Jose and ending in Santa Clara, part of a $5.6-billion project that is expected to start construction in 2022, with an estimated completion date around 2030.
All of the key players at Tuesday’s event credited Guardino for his perseverance and leadership with SVLG that resulted in three successful countywide transportation funding campaigns (2000, 2008 and 2016) and a nine-county tax hike in 2018. The SVLG also helped procure $900 million in federal funds in 2012 and two rounds of state funds totaling $1.3 billion.
“Without each of those significant building blocks, we would have never had the funding to build Phase I of the BART extension,” Guardino said. “There is no celebration without dedication and perspiration.”