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Light Rail Progress
Despite the catastrophic economic
plight of California's so-called Silicon
Valley region, and a relentless barrage
of attacks from rail critics and various
news media, San Jose's LRT system
has nevertheless been forging ahead.
On Wednesday, 23 June 2004, the Valley Transportation
Authority (VTA) launched light rail service to East San Jose with
the opening of the Tasman East-Capitol Extension – a $435
million, 6.3-mile (10.2-km) line routed down Capitol Avenue to
Alum Rock Avenue, with siginificant segments on elevated viaduct
(see map, below). The line is the fruition of over a decade of
campaigning for the project by community leaders such as former
councilman Ron Gonzales.
At least 1,000 people attended the hour-long inaugural ceremony,
described by the San Jose Mercury News as "a huge throng for
this kind of event." The News pointed out that "When the
Highway 101 widening north of Morgan Hill – a vital transportation
improvement – was dedicated last summer, a couple of hundred
people showed up and most were state officials or local political honchos."
The News continues:
The Tasman East-Capitol LRT extension into the East Valley was
completed on time in and nearly $14 million under the approved
project budget. This accomplishment is particularly remarkable in
the face of the serious economic decline in the Silicon Valley
region, which has resulted in ten consecutive quarters of
decreased sales tax revenues and thrown VTA into a budgetary crisis.
With the latest extension, VTA now operates a 36.8-mile, multi-route LRT system extending from south San Jose through downtown to the northern areas of San Jose, Santa Clara, Mountain View, Sunnyvale, and now East San Jose. While ridership has dropped in the past couple of years as a result of the region's economic slump (loss of jobs means loss of commuters), the LRT system nevertheless has rertained about 22,500 riders on an average weekday.