Milpitas elected officials along with VTA and BART officials opened the city’s BART station and VTA transit hub Friday, marking a moment decades in the making.
Officially named the Milpitas Transit Center, the center will feature a BART station, a VTA bus hub, and quick access to VTA’s light rail system.
Plans for BART to come to Silicon Valley have been bandied around since the 1980s, and possibly even earlier. An official joint project between BART and VTA finally broke ground in 2012, when officials decided the new Milpitas station would be located at the intersection of Montague Expressway and Great Mall Parkway.
After a series of delays that pushed the opening date back four years from 2016, the $2.3 billion, 10-mile project is now open to the public.
“This beautiful, beautiful station represents a vision for five-plus counties,” said Lateefah Simon, president of BART’s board of directors, about the station. “The Bay Area is so thankful for the dreamers, for the people of faith who thought in something that could possibly happen outside of [their] lifetime.”
Elected officials and transportation dignitaries opened the ceremonies by cutting a ribbon at the new Berryessa Station in San Jose, and took the area’s first BART train ride to Milpitas, where another ribbon-cutting ceremony was held.
Milpitas elected officials were able to ride the inaugural outbound train from the city to the Berryessa station.
The Berryessa and Milpitas stations mark the completion of the first in a two-phase expansion into the South Bay. Phase two will eventually bring BART to Santa Clara and Downtown San Jose by the mid-to-late 2020s, according to the VTA website.
“The partnership right now between BART and VTA could be held up as how transit agencies and agencies in general are working together to deliver for the public,” said Robert Powers, the general manager of BART at Friday’s ribbon-cutting ceremony.
Both the new Berryessa and Milpitas stations offer ample parking: more than 1,500 spots at Berryessa and more than 1,600 spots at Milpitas. Parking will cost $3 a day or $50 a month. There will also be room for approximately 200 bikes.
Trains will depart every 30 minutes on weekdays, every 20 minutes on Saturdays, and every 24 minutes on Sundays, according to the transit system’s website.
Ridership on BART has plummeted since the state-implemented stay-at-home orders in March to combat COVID-19, although numbers have risen slightly in recent weeks. That’s led BART to present a limited schedule at Milpitas and across its stations.
Still, amid the pandemic and a small-scale opening, project officials were in high spirits.
“BART to Silicon Valley reflects the hope and the optimism of this region,” said VTA Chair and Santa Clara County Board of Supervisors President Cindy Chavez.
Service will open to the public on Saturday, June 13. BART, VTA, and regional officials strongly recommend that the public only use the new station for essential trips and continue to follow social distancing guidelines.