Valley Rapid is a high-quality, high-speed form of transit that provides the same service and amenities of light rail at a much lower cost to implement. Valley Rapid uses specialized vehicles that operate in city streets and in dedicated lanes—rather than on a fixed guideway, like rail.
What makes Valley Rapid different from the current VTA bus service?
Valley Rapid will offer a better transit experience by offering faster travel speeds, more frequent service and better transit amenities. Here’s how:
- Dedicated lanes – In certain locations, these lanes, which are restricted to Valley Rapid vehicles, will allow the vehicles to bypass local automobile traffic.
- Signal priority – When the Valley Rapid vehicle approaches an intersection, the traffic signal will turn green or stay green to allow the vehicle to move through without sitting at a red light.
- Off-board fare collection – Like light rail, passengers buy tickets at the station and board without showing proof of payment. This avoids lines at the front of the bus while passengers pay for fares. Like light rail, transit officers will be on board checking tickets.
- Faster boarding and alighting – Passengers will be able to board through the front and rear doors.
- Bulb-out stations – In areas without dedicated lanes, the station platform will extend out into the parking lane, adjacent to the travel lane. The Valley Rapid vehicle will stop in the travel lane while passengers board. This speeds up travel time as the vehicle is not required to pull out of traffic, like regular buses.
- Frequency – Ten-minute headways or faster.
- Enhanced Stations – Stations will be more substantial than regular bus stations, offering better weather protection, more seating and better lighting.
Where will Valley Rapid be implemented?
Three corridors are currently being targeted for Valley Rapid service:
- Santa Clara-Alum Rock Corridor – Connects HP Pavilion to Eastridge Transit Center via Santa Clara Street, Alum Rock Avenue and Capitol Expressway. This is an upgrade to the 522 Rapid Bus line. This service will continue along the El Camino Corridor, ending at the Palo Alto Transit Center.
- El Camino Corridor – Connects the Palo Alto Transit Center to HP Pavilion. This is an upgrade to the 522 Rapid Bus line. This is a continuation of the Santa Clara-Alum Rock Corridor.
- Stevens Creek Corridor – Connects De Anza College to HP Pavilion. Service along this corridor will continue to Eastridge Transit Center.
When service in all three corridors has been implemented, Valley Rapid vehicles in the Santa Clara-Alum Rock Corridor will operate on five-minute headways while vehicles in the El Camino and Stevens Creek Corridors operate on ten-minute headways.
When will Valley Rapid arrive?
Santa Clara-Alum Rock service will begin in August of 2014. West of HP Pavilion, the Valley Rapid service will make all 522 stops until the El Camino stations are opened. El Camino service has a target date of 2016. Stevens Creek service is expected by 2017.