Instead of BART to San Jose, how about...


photo manipulation by Clem Tillier

Silicon Valley Express: fast, frequent, modern, electric rail system at a fraction of the cost!

Peninsula Rail 2000 proposal, Summer 2000

(This photo shows a European suburban train, which can be as long as a BART train. It is double deck and therefore has higher seating capacity. It is not light rail.)

An electric rail system between southern Alameda County and San Jose comparable to BART in speed, frequency and convenience can be built in a fraction of the time and at a fraction of the cost required for a BART extension. This can be achieved by upgrading existing rail lines (shown on South Bay rail map), including those used by ACE and Amtrak's Capitol trains. The latter trains already are often faster than driving between Hayward, Fremont, and Santa Clara/Great America (the main Silicon Valley stop for ACE and the Capitols). Hayward-Santa Clara on most Capitol trains takes 32 minutes; Fremont-Santa Clara takes 16-19 minutes.

This electric rail proposal is based on several rail projects in Europe (and in other continents such as Australia), and on the Schuylkill Valley Metro between Philadelphia and Reading, Pennsylvania. The latter project is described in detail in the following web page and newspaper article:

"Metrorail" and BART: a quick comparison

Schuylkill Valley Metro
Philadelphia-Reading, Pennsylvania
BART extension
Fremont-San Jose, CA
Cost:$22 million per mile
($1.4 billion for 62 miles)
$175 million per mile
($4 billion for 22 miles)
Time it will take to build:
(includes time for design, engineering, construction)
3-4 years
(2003 start, 2006-'07 finish)
10+ years
(2010 soonest conceivable completion)
Number of new stations:155-7
Average operating speed:45 mph
(83 minutes for 62-mile run)
40-45 mph, depending on the number of stations
Service frequencies:Both technologies are capable of handling high train frequencies
such as every 2-3 minutes.
Technology type:Electrified commuter rail, standard gauge Subway-type system with unique track gauge
Can share tracks with other trains?
(Amtrak, commuter rail, future high speed rail, freight traffic)
yes no
Fare/ticket enforcement method:POP (proof of payment, sometimes falsely labeled the "honor system") ticketing with $50 fines for those caught without valid tickets. Tickets subject to random visual inspection by fare inspectors (common practice in Europe, and increasingly prevalent on US transit systems, e.g. VTA light rail, Muni Metro in San Francisco; ACE, Metrolink, and Coaster commuter rail) BART system of fare gates, requiring barriers around "paid" train boarding areas which contributes to expensive station design. Passengers carry tickets with magnetically-encoded fare values.
Power contact system:Overhead catenary wire third rail

Additional information about South Bay rail options: