Commuters beginning Monday, Aug. 2 will be able to ride Santa Clara Valley Transportation Authority buses along light rail lines at no cost.
Similar replacement buses had been put into service in the first week of the indefinite closure of the regional light rail system following the mass killing at the transit system’s San Jose railyards May 26. That service ended abruptly, as the system mulled its options.
The resumption of the no-fare "bus bridges” could ease a summer of frustration for thousands of mass transit commuters, who had been told in mid-June that light rail might resume this month. The indefinite suspension of the light rail service began immediately after the tragic shooting deaths of nine VTA workers at the hands of a colleague who took his own life.
“At this time, there is no firm estimate of when light rail service will begin,” Ross said in a statement this week. “VTA is working diligently and compassionately to ensure employees impacted by the tragic events of May 26 feel safe and confident to return to their normal duties.”
The temporary bus service will operate along First Street in San Jose, from the Paseo de San Antonio Station to the Baypointe Station. The buses will continue to the Milpitas Transit Center along Tasman Drive, serving all light rail stations along that route, said Stacey Hendler Ross, a VTA spokesperson.
This service will operate every 30 minutes on weekdays from 5:30 a.m. to 8:30 p.m., and hourly on weekends from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. No fares will be charged for this temporary bus service, which will continue until light rail has been restored.
The authority’s board in June approved emergency powers to lease temporary space and start repair work at the Guadalupe Yard, the headquarters of the light rail system where the mass shooting occurred.is own life.
The light rail network that runs for more than 40 miles through the South Bay was shut down hours after the shooting. It remains unclear what the authority plans to do with the emotionally charged Guadalupe Yard, which suffered significant damage to VTA property.
Gov. Gavin Newson signed a special resolution by the Legislature just prior to the July 1 budget deadline for $20 million to help address the mental health needs of the VTA workers and their families and to make repairs and safety upgrades the light rail system.
“Making sure that location is hardened and protected long term is going to be very, very important. And also so that employees feel safe going back to work,” Santa Clara County Supervisor Cindy Chavez said in late June.
“We know how important it is to keep our community running and we know that, as we come out of shelter-in-place and COVID restrictions and containment, now more than ever those trains need to continue to connect people across the valley and beyond,” said State Sen. Dave Cortese, a former county supervisor.
The following service changes will take effect on Aug.2:
New Light Rail Bus Bridge: The bus bridge will operate from the Paseo de San Antonio Station up to Baypointe via 1st St, then over to the Milpitas Transit Center via Tasman. It will serve all the light rail stations along the way. It will operate every 30 minutes on weekdays from 5:30am. to 8:30pm., and hourly on weekends from 7am. to 7pm. No fares will be charged on the bus bridge. This service will continue until light rail is up and running.
The weekday schedule on Route 500 will be revised to match the improved BART schedule, with evening service running until 2am The Saturday schedule will be improved to operate every 10-20 minutes, and service hours will be expanded to cover 5:30am to 2am. The Sunday schedule will also be revised.
Effective Monday, Aug. 30, the following routes will be revised due to the new Caltrain schedule
The following weekday service improvements will be implemented in conjunction with the reopening of community colleges:
Route 86: Gavilan College gains improved 30-minute headways until 7pm., with hourly service until 10pm. Changes take effect Aug. 23.
Route 31: Evergreen College gains extended hourly service until 10pm. Changes take effect Aug. 30:
Route 40: Foothill College gains extended hourly service until 10pm. Changes take effect Sept. 20.
Route 52: Foothill College gains 30 minute service until 4pm., then hourly until 6:30pm. Changes take effect Sept. 20.