After abandoning plans for a new light rail line on Highway 85, the Santa Clara Valley Transportation Authority is hunting for new transit ideas for the northern parts of the county.
A request put out by VTA this month calls for new transit technologies that could connect San Jose International Airport and the cities of Cupertino and Santa Clara. Unlike building light rail, which costs up to $500 million per mile, VTA officials are emphasizing that they want a new transit system that could be built above the road and on the cheap.
The search for an innovative transit system might seem familiar to Mountain View residents. For about three years, city officials have been trying to find a transportation line connecting downtown Mountain View and North Bayshore. For that project, city staff is looking at a grade-separated project that avoids the costly land acquisition needed for a surface-level railway.
In a similar vein, VTA has also demurred on expanding light rail in Mountain View. In a report last year that was supposed to study bringing light rail to North Bayshore, VTA officials instead endorsed autonomous vehicles as a potential game-changer for mass transit systems.
Last month, VTA was lambasted in a Santa Clara County Civil Grand Jury report that found that it is among the most inefficient transit agencies in the U.S. The report said that the lightly used light rail system is the main factor in the agency's cost overruns.