Federal Transit Adminstration New Starts report, released February 2004.

Silicon Valley Rapid Transit Corridor

Santa Clara County, California
(November 2003)


The Santa Clara Valley Transportation Authority (SCVTA) is proposing to implement a 16.3-mile heavy rail extension from the proposed Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART) Warm Springs station to downtown San Jose and the Norman Y. Mineta International Airport. Because of rapid job growth in Silicon Valley in the 1990's and residential growth in Alameda and Contra Costa Counties, travel conditions on I-880 and I-680 have worsened, while express bus service and the Altamonte Commuter Express rail system operate at capacity. The proposed BART extension is intended to help address the imbalance between jobs and affordable housing in Silicon Valley by opening up the area to improved regional transit connections and providing commuters alternatives to travel on I-680 and I-880. The proposed project would serve the heart of Santa Clara County and Silicon Valley, connecting SCVTA's light rail and bus system to BART, and would thereby expand transit access to Santa Clara, Contra Costa, and Alameda counties, as well as to the city of San Francisco.

Summary Description

Proposed Project:
Heavy Rail
16.3 Miles
7 Stations

Total Capital Cost: ($YOE): $4,997.8 Million

Section 5309 New Starts Share: ($YOE): $ 973.0 Million (19%)

Annual Operating Cost: Not Available

Ridership Forecast (2025): Not Available

Opening Year Ridership Forecast: Not Available

FY 2005 Finance Rating: Low-Medium

FY 2005 Project Justification Rating: Not Rated

FY 2005 Overall Project Rating: Not Recommended

The project received an overall rating of Not Recommended due to the limited demonstration of local financial commitment. In addition, SCVTA did not submit complete information on the benefits of the Silicon Valley Rapid Transit Corridor, and as a result FTA could not evaluate the project's justification criteria. The overall project rating applies to this Annual Report on New Starts and reflects conditions as of November 2003. Project cost estimates and proposed New Starts share are developed by local project sponsors and are not FTA assumptions. Project evaluation is an ongoing process. As New Starts projects proceed through project development, estimates of cost, benefits, schedules and impacts are refined. FTA's ratings and recommendation will be updated annually to reflect new information, changing conditions, and refined financing plans.

Because of the project's high costs and the reduced local revenues available to fund it, a minimum operable segment (MOS) in the corridor is being contemplated by SCVTA. In the coming months, FTA intends to work with SCVTA to help develop an MOS and a financial plan that reflects SCVTA's ability to build and operate the system. FTA will also continue to work with SCVTA to improve its ability to more accurately portray the benefits of the proposed project.


FTA approved SCVTA's request to initiate preliminary engineering on the Silicon Valley Rapid Transit Corridor project in September 2002. Since then, the financial condition of SCVTA has deteriorated, which has impacted the agency's ability to implement and operate the proposed project. SCVTA is currently contemplating MOS options and alternative financing strategies.

The current project scope and financial plan propose a New Starts share of $973.0 million. FTA notes that, historically, more than $500 million in New Starts funding has rarely been provided to any single major capital transit investment project.

TEA-2l Section 3030 (b)(19) authorized the Fremont-South Bay Corridor for Preliminary Engineering and Final Design. Through FY 2003, $250,000 in Section 5309 New Starts funds have been appropriated for the proposed project by Congress.


The following criteria have been estimated in conformance with FTA's Reporting Instructions for the Section 5309 New Starts Criteria, updated in June 2003. The project will be re-evaluated when it is ready to advance into final design and for next year's Annual Report on New Starts.

Project Justification Quantitative Criteria

Mobility Improvements Rating: Not Rated

New Start vs. Baseline

Average Employment Per Station

Average Low Income Households Per Station

Transportation System User Benefit Per Project

Passenger Mile (Minutes)

Environmental Benefits Rating: Medium-High

Criteria Pollutant Reduced (Tons)

New Start vs. Baseline

Carbon Monoxide (CO)

Nitrogen Oxide (NOx)

Volatile Organic Compounds

Particulate Matter (PM10)

Carbon Dioxide (CO2)

Annual Energy Savings
(millions of BTU)

Cost Effectiveness Rating: Not Rated

New Start vs. Baseline

Cost per Transportation System User Benefit (current year dollars/hour)

Operating Efficiencies Rating: Not Rated

New Start vs. Baseline

System Operating Cost per Passenger Mile (current year dollars)

Baseline N/A
New Start N/A

N/A indicates that information is not available for this measure.

Project Justification

Rating: Not Rated

The project justification rating is Not Rated because the transportation system user benefit measure used for cost effectiveness and mobility improvements was not submitted. FTA will continue to work with SCVTA to improve its travel demand projections. FTA further notes that unless the project generates an acceptable cost effectiveness estimate, its ability to advance into final design could be jeopardized.

Transit-Supportive Existing Land Use and Future Patterns

Rating: Medium-High

The Medium-High rating reflects the region's commitment to growth management and the continued success of land-use policies that focus development near transit nodes, as well as the tremendous potential for improving densities around proposed station sites. However, while several station areas currently maintain relatively dense population and employment, only moderate population and employment densities exist throughout the corridor as a whole.

Existing Conditions: The proposed extension would connect Santa Clara County to the rest of the San Francisco Bay area. The Silicon Valley Rapid Transit Corridor contains some high residential and employment concentrations, as well as other trip generators such as universities, hospitals, cultural attractions, and entertainment. Station area employment and population densities are 9,365 and 7,094 per square mile, respectively. Downtown San Jose maintains a good mix of office/commercial use and residential development, often with ground floor retail. The rest of the corridor consists of predominately low-density industrial parks with a moderate amount of commercial and residential uses. Pedestrian accessibility in the corridor varies by proposed station site but is generally good.

Future Plans, Policies and Performance: The corridor is in the heart of the Silicon Valley and is projected to grow 19.4 percent in population and 34.7 percent in employment by 2025. There is a concerted effort by all jurisdictions, through the establishment of goals and policies, to concentrate development, conserve open space, and contain sprawl. The jurisdictions have created several specific planning areas with high-density development requirements and enhanced design characteristics in order to foster increases in development and improvements in the character of proposed station areas. A considerable amount of light industrial/warehouse use is present in station areas that are zoned for higher density uses, offering significant possibilities for redevelopment. The station areas are not constrained by well-established, low-density residential development. Local jurisdictions have already shown great success in establishing higher- density, mixed-use development around transit centers.

Local Financial Commitment

Rating: Low-Medium

The Low-Medium local financial commitment rating acknowledges the low proposed New Starts share of project costs but also reflects the questionable feasibility of the capital and operating financing plan and the lack of supporting documentation submitted by the project sponsor.

Proposed Non-Section 5309 New Starts Share of Total Project Costs: 80%

Rating: High

SCVTA plans to use Section 5309 New Starts funds to fund 20 percent of project costs. State Transportation Congestion Relief Program funding sources and Measure A dedicated sales tax revenues are proposed to fund the balance of project capital requirements.

Locally Proposed Financial Plan

Proposed Source of Funds / Total Funding ($ million) / Percent of Total

Section 5309 New Starts / $973.0 / 19.5%

Traffic Congestion Relief Program / $649.0 million / 12.9%

Measure A / $3,375.7 / 67.5%

NOTE: Funding statements reflected in this table have been made by project sponsors and are not DOT or FTA assumptions. Sum of figures may differ from total as listed due to rounding.

Stability and Reliability of Capital Financing Plan

Rating: Low-Medium

The Low-Medium rating reflects the questionable feasibility of the capital financing plan and the lack of supporting documentation submitted by the project sponsor.

Agency Capital Financial Condition: SCVTA has limited capacity for additional capital funding. The primary sources of capital funding for the project include State Transportation Congestion relief program funds, which may no longer be available, and local sales tax revenues, which are not growing at the level anticipated. The average age of the bus fleet is presumed to be 7.5 years based on information submitted by the agency last year; this age is above the national average. Information on the agency's bond ratings was not provided.

Capital Cost Estimate and Contingencies: SCVTA is evaluating options for a minimum operating segment; however, updated capital cost estimates have not been provided to FTA. Contingency allowances are currently 26 percent of the total capital cost, which is considered low for a project at this early stage of project development with complex underground elements.

Existing and Committed Funding: The level of funds committed to the project has been reduced due to economic conditions impacting sales tax revenues and State funding.

New and Proposed Sources: SCVTA will need to identify a new source of funding to make up the shortfall in State and local sources of funds.

Stability and Reliability of Operating Finance Plan

Rating: Low-Medium

The Low-Medium rating was assigned because sources of operating funds for the proposed project and the existing system have not been identified and supporting documentation for the operating plan was not provided.

Agency Operating Financial Condition: SCVTA did not provide sufficient documentation to determine the current operating financial condition of the agency. FTA is aware that the agency has been forced to reduce service in the last two fiscal years due to declining sales tax revenues.

Operating Cost Estimates and Contingencies: The operating plan did not include a 20-year cash flow. Consequently, the annual operating cost of the project was not provided.

Existing and Committed Funding: Unless new sources of operating funds are found, there is not sufficient funding under existing and available sources to operate the existing system and the proposed extension.

New and Proposed Funding Sources: SCVTA is seeking a new operating finding source to sustain existing operations. A source of funding for the proposed extension has not been identified.

MAP (mtcwatch note: map etc not shown here)