ENR California names the Santa Clara Valley Transportation Authority (VTA) as its 2023 Owner of the Year. The half-century-old transit agency serves the 15 cities in Santa Clara County as well as commuters in the San Francisco Bay Area. As a congestion management agency, VTA provides bus, light rail and paratransit services, and designs, constructs and maintains transit infrastructure. It is also a funding partner in regional rail service including Caltrain, Capital Corridor and the Altamont Corridor Express.
Average weekday ridership in 2019 reached 114,600 per day and the agency had an operating budget of more than $540 million. Then, like many transit agencies across the country, VTA saw ridership — and sales tax revenue — plummet during the COVID-19 pandemic. At one point, a 30% cut in services was being considered. Ridership has since steadily recovered and VTA expects to be back to full capacity in 2023. In fact, ambitious plans for the future are already taking shape.
The existing VTA Transit Capital Program in addition to the mega BART project, is comprised of nearly 70 projects covering a wide range of transit system assets. The cost to complete all projects in the program is estimated to be about $800 million. The largest of these projects is the Eastridge to BART Regional Connector (EBRC) project that is the lone light rail transit extension project with a total cost estimate of a little over $500 million, making it the second largest individual capital project currently under development by VTA.
A key component for selecting VTA for the Owner of the Year honor is the BART Silicon Valley Extension, the largest project in the agency's history. The rail project is being delivered through an unprecedented partnership between VTA and the future operator, the Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART). VTA is the project sponsor and is funding, designing and building the project, all to BART facility standards. When complete the agency will own all the infrastructure and BART will operate the system.
The $2.3 billion, 10-mile first phase of the project opened for passenger service in 2020. Two new BART stations were constructed, each part of two bigger, new transit centers: the Milpitas Transit Center and the Berryessa Transit Center. The second phase is a 6-mile, 4-station portion that includes 5 miles of a 53-ft single bore subway tunnel underneath San Jose’s downtown. This $9.3 billion progressive design-build effort will be the first and largest single bore tunnel for a transit project in the U.S.