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New BART Extension Faces Twitter Backlash

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VTA rendering of the BART extension

Twitter is going crazy. Though this is hardly a rare occurrence, the cause for the backlash is an extension of the Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART) service that goes through downtown San Jose. The problem with the new extension is the station design that will make passengers descend up to 90 ft from their trains to reach street level, according to a May 17 post from the Santa Clara Valley Transportation Authority (VTA). Unsurprisingly, the tweet received many replies, which ranged from humorous to angry and critiqued everything about the project, from the design to its US $6.9-billion price tag, which makes the extension as the largest infrastructure project in Santa Clara County’s history. VTA spokeswoman Bernice Alaniz cited business disruptions, soil conditions, working around underground utilities and avoiding severing VTA’s light rail line as factors considered when developing the design. More conventional stations would require construction on sections of Santa Clara Street for years at a time and would disrupt businesses downtown. Many riders pointed out, however, that the design will increase the time it takes to transfer from BART to other nearby transit, and will make the stations less accessible, particularly for those with limited mobility. VTA estimates that it will take riders “less than a minute” to get from their platform to street level by taking the elevators provided in the station. Taking escalators, which were added to the design as another option for those who felt unsafe riding elevators post-COVID, will take between a minute and 90 seconds. BART has faced complaints about the reliability of their vertical transportation and has increased maintenance efforts in recent years. The extension is estimated to reach completion around 2029 and 2030.

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