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San José and Partners Consider New Transit Technology

Post Date:06/26/2020 3:30 PM

The City of San José, in partnership with the Santa Clara County Valley Transportation Authority (VTA), City of Santa Clara, City of Cupertino, and County of Santa Clara issued a request for information (RFI) to develop new transit options connecting San José Diridon Station to Mineta San José International Airport and to multiple destinations along the Stevens Creek Boulevard corridor.

Accommodating future growth in the region will require major changes in transportation infrastructure to allow more residents of San José and Santa Clara County to thrive without daily reliance on driving alone and the associated environmental impacts and personal costs. However, recent high-capacity mass transit projects have cost hundreds of millions of dollars per mile and spent decades in planning and construction. This RFI asked the question: can high-capacity mass transit be built faster and more cheaply?

With our partners, we issued the RFI to receive information from innovators in the field of transportation on how transformative transit projects might be completed more quickly and at lower costs. Submissions were requested that addressed new technologies, operational practices, and project delivery methods. The RFI requested information on opportunities for transit solutions that don’t mix with traffic (grade-separated) and could be constructed and operated at a significantly lower cost than existing and planned transit projects.

Twenty-three proposals were submitted, varying widely in detail and feasibility. Most of the proposals focused on technological solutions (with limited proposals for operational practices or project delivery methods), and the technologies ranged from products currently in operation to those that are still speculative. The submissions have taught us and our partners a lot about the emerging market for automated and grade-separated transit solutions. The RFI process also promoted awareness in this emerging market of the specific opportunities and needs in Santa Clara County.

An evaluation of the responses by the partner team’s consultant revealed that there are indeed technologies in operation that would align with the goals of the RFI. Through the submissions, we also learned that the rapid pace of innovation and high levels of investment will likely lead to more new transit solutions in the coming years. The responses also highlighted that many technologies are still in their infancy and are a few years away from implementation readiness. 

You can find the RFI responses and our consultant's evaluation at the project’s webpage.

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