On Aug. 7, Valley Transportation Authority board members will vote on whether to close Mountain View's Evelyn Avenue light rail station -- said to be the second least-popular station in the entire light rail system.
The move to demolish the station is proposed as part of a $63 million plan. The Evelyn station stands directly in the way of a plan to run a second light rail track into downtown Mountain View, as VTA officials say the existing single track is a bottleneck preventing more frequent and reliable service. Trains currently run every 15 minutes during rush hour, and officials have talked about running trains every 7 minutes.
While it may mean faster service for a trolley that has often been criticized for being slow and inconvenient, not everyone will be pleased to lose the Evelyn station. It serves only 94 people a day. For comparison, the downtown light rail station serves 1,386 people daily.
"It's going to be terrible," said Prasamma Viswakumar, who said his home is a 10-minute drive away and finds the Evelyn station's free park-and-ride lot to be a reliable place to find parking spot. He said he wouldn't even consider trying to park downtown. Another user agreed, saying he uses the station as a way to get to the downtown Caltrain station, to ride Caltrain to work. "I have a monthly parking pass, but I can't find parking (downtown), I don't even bother."
Another man who works nearby said he normally skips light rail for Caltrain, but finds the station a convenient way to get to Hacker Dojo for events -- "Just hop on the train, go two stops and there it is."
VTA staff say Evelyn station users can instead use the light rail station at Whisman Station, which isn't very far away, but there is limited parking there as well.
The plan to improve service happens to coincide with the anticipated spike in use to come from Levi's Stadium events, where parking will be expensive and limited enough that about 600 drivers are expected to park in and around downtown Mountain View and ride light rail for 30 minutes to get to the stadium.
Despite the inconvenience for some, VTA officials say it is more important to remove the bottleneck, which can affect on the whole system if there's a failure or collision on the single track in Mountain View.
"If something happens on that track and it closes -- that has effects throughout the system -- it has a ripple effect," said VTA spokeswoman Colleen Valles. Two tracks will "allow more flexibility and more reliability in the area."
If approved on August, construction and demolition work will begin soon after to add the new track, which would extend from the north side of Central Expressway to the downtown station. Light rail service will continue during construction, Valles said.
Included in the $63 million price is a slight realignment of the Caltrain tracks near the Evelyn Station to make way for the second light rail track.
While the Evelyn station will close, its free parking lot will remain open to the non-light rail users who have apparently been parking there. While Caltrain and the city will charge $10 to park downtown, Valles added that VTA doesn't plan to charge Levi's stadium users to park at its light rail lots, except at the River Oaks and Highway 880/Milpitas stations.