Blast from the past… one of my ideas

If VTA actually considered, then we might have a rail connection for quite sometime now rather than still waiting for BART and VTA to settle their issues.

I used to have a separate web site for these ideas, but the advent of social media platforms and content management systems, along with changes with my hosting provider, resulted in these contents no longer appearing online.



By Andy Chow

Vehicles: Electric trains consist of up to six low floor light rail vehicles, providing more than 400 seats and can accomodate about 1000 passengers standing and sitting comfortably at maximum length, significantly higher than typical light rail trains.
Route: Connecting to BART at either Union City, Fremont, or Milpitas via a subway under Santa Clara Street and surface alignment on the Union Pacific rail line. The downtown subway will be shared with VTA East-West light rail line. West of the downtown subway, which is near the Guadalupe Freeway, mBART will make use of the Vasona LRT line into the expanded Diridon station
Right of Way: Purchase railroad right of way from Union Pacific.
Stations: Three subway stations under Santa Clara Street. Two surface stations west of the subway on the Vasona LRT line. The line terminates at San Jose Diridon Station. Subway and surface stations west of the subway will be shared with VTA East-West light rail line. Stations north of the subway will be 1-2 miles apart for rapid service. Each station will be constructed or upgraded to accomodate 6-car trains.
Service Frequency: 6-7 minutes peak, 15-20 minutes off-peak, timed to meet BART trains.
Land Use Integration: Transit friendly residential and employment opportunities around stations at least as great if not greater than other rail modes.
Operating Model: Owned and operated by VTA with fare and schedule coordination with BART.
Fare: Barrier-free Proof-of-Payment system, with Translink readers for seamless connection to BART and other systems.

Compatible with light rail: mBART uses standard gauge track and overhead electrification, permitting mBART to share tracks and stations with VTA light rail.
Lower cost: Lower cost light rail like rolling stock and infastructure providing speed, frequency, and capacity comparable to higher cost heavy rail.
– The capital cost for the subway will also be lower because mBART equipment will be able to make tighter turns than BART vehicles and thus reduce the need to buy or obtain easement of private properties for the rail right of way.
– mBART requires less tunneling than BART because mBART can make use of certain portions of the surface and underground LRT right of way.
– The capital cost for the stations, especially for those on surface, will be less because of the simpler fare collection method and the fesibility of installing at-grade crossings.
– Resulting in additional savings by eliminating the need to provide separate surface tracks for VTA light rail.
Greater ridership: Removing VTA East-Valley light rail from surface mix-traffic tracks into subway significantly improves travel time and realiability. High ridership on the underground VTA East-Valley light rail, combining with East Bay mBART riders, help justify the high cost of the subway construction.
Providing balanced benefits across different communities: Unlike a BART-only subway, the subway will be shared with VTA East-Valley light rail. Lower-income commuters traveling from East San Jose will be able to take advantage of the traffic-free, high-speed subway service that otherwise only higher-income commuters from East Bay will enjoy.
Smart investment: For a BART only subway to justify the ridership, downtown San Jose will have to grow to unrealistic high level, so that a small portion of all workers and residents will be able to use BART to the East Bay, leaving all others from elsewhere competing for space on surface streets. On the other hand, mBART/VTA light rail subway only require realistic and modest growth in downtown to justify investment, and leave fewer people using surface streets. Even if downtown San Jose were to grow to the unrealistic level, mBART/VTA light rail subway will still have enough capacity to accomodate the additional riders.
Providing East-West rail backbone for future LRT expansion: Without a grade separated LRT alignment through downtown, the prospect for establishing county wide LRT network will be greatly constrained, due to the limited capacity on surface tracks. mBART/VTA LRT subway allows trains to operate as close as 1.5 minutes without impacting surface traffic, and offers capacity for future extension of LRT system on corridors such as Stevens Creek.
Medium Rail – Heavier than light rail, lighter than heavy rail: Assuming the unrealistic high level development, in simple calculations, which supposed that all passengers travel the whole distance and split evenly to all trains, 4 car trains are enough to carry the ridership, and mBART is more than ready to provide such capacity. Obviously, since not all passengers travel the whole way and most travel during the peak period, the actual demand for capacity may be lower, especially the during the off-peak period. mBART can operate as short as one car trains to save maintenance and electricity cost during low demand period. On the other hand, BART requires a train to have at least three cars.

1) Union City BART connection, no BART extension – Given that most commuters from the East Bay reside in the Fremont, Union City, Newark area, this option gives direct service to most East Bay riders. Also, track connection can be provided in Milpitas between mBART and Tasman LRT for through no-transfer service between Union City and Mountain View during peak period, covering many employment centers in the Golden Triangle area.
2) Shinn BART connection, no BART extension – This option has most of the advantages with the Union City connection, but also has a direct connection with ACE and future Dumbarton Rail. A new BART transfer station must be constructed at Shinn.
3) Fremont BART connection, no BART extension – This option has many of the advantages with the Union City and Shinn connection, but it will require slower operation on street median since the Fremont BART station is not close to any existing railroad right of way.
4) Warm Springs BART connection, BART extended to Warm Springs – This option require most commuters to transfer since mBART and BART connection is not close to any major origin or destination.
5) Milpitas BART connection, BART extended to Milpitas – This option provide riders connection between BART and Tasman LRT. Most East Bay commuters have destinations in the Golden Triangle area, not downtown San Jose. mBART provides a more cost-effective solution for the segment with lower demand.

Detailed map of mBART alignment in downtown San Jose:

Detailed map of mBART alignment in Milpitas:

Detailed map of mBART alignment in Fremont: