Light rail service won’t resume at the end of the month, the Santa Clara Valley Transportation Authority admitted Tuesday, and gave no new date for a resumption of service suspended since the May 26 mass killing at the VTA rail yards in San Jose.
“Plans for the restoration of light rail service are moving along at a steady pace,” the VTA said in a July 13 press release, “however passenger service will likely start later than the end of July, as originally expected.”
“VTA is working diligently and compassionately to restore the service we know the community relies on, and we are making every effort to bring back that service as soon as is safely possible,” according to VTA staff.
After a VTA worker killed nine colleagues and himself at the VTA rail yard, the system replaced light rail routes with extra bus service for five days. Since then the more than 100,000 weekly riders on the light rail system have had to fend for themselves.
At a special board meeting Tuesday, the VTA Board of Directors received a detailed presentation that outlined six requirements”that must be met before trains are once again carrying passengers along the three light rail routes throughout Santa Clara County,” VTA said in a statement..
Phase One, completed June 30, was a “triage” of sorts to determine workspace needs, and assess the readiness of employees to return, according to the VTA. The main buildings at the Guadalupe yard which housed the Operations Control Center (OCC) and the Way Power and Signal Department, ?are not structurally ready to be used, so offsite locations needed to be identified for employee workspaces.” the board was told.
Decisions as to whether the Guadalupe buildings, site of the mass shooting, will be remodeled or demolished and completely rebuilt have not yet been made.
“The most important of the restoration requirements is the readiness of employees, both mentally and emotionally, to return to work after the traumatic event of May 26,” said the VTA report.
“Management staff and union leaders have reached out to employees essential to accomplishing the initial service restoration work in Way Power and Signal and OCC to understand their needs in order to return to work with confidence,” according to the report to the board.
Phase Two, currently underway, aims to ensure that employees have the resources they need to make their way back to work by moving equipment, technology and employees to temporary locations. VTA staff has identified specialized resources with expertise in similar tragic events to provide services, consultation and continued wellness and safety programs for our employees.
The next three phases involve continued onboarding of staff, infrastructure repairs, and a trial run of service without passengers before being fully operational in the fifth phase. Phase Six will focus on service increases outlined by our pre-pandemic new transit service plan from 2019.
No dates were attached to phases two through six.
Just last week, the VTA released a statement that said: “We know our light rail passengers are eager to see the trains running again. We are too. Our multi-phase plan is now underway with expectations to resume light rail service by the end of July, although no firm date can be set at this time.”