BART announces service start date for long-awaited Milpitas, San Jose Berryessa stations

SAN JOSE, Calif. (KGO) -- BART and VTA announced Tuesday the long-delayed Milpitas and San Jose Berryessa BART stations are scheduled to open to passengers on June 13 pending final regulatory approval.

The addition of the Milpitas and Berryessa stations brings BART service into Santa Clara County for the first time in the transit agencies 55-year history.

Service will now extend south of Fremont's Warm Springs station, through Milpitas, bringing the end of the line to northern San Jose.

The announcement of BART's expansion comes at a time when the transit agency continues to temporarily slash service as the system takes daily hits to its budget with a pitfall in ridership amid the coronavirus pandemic. Both weekday and weekend ridership averages so far for the month of may hovered between 90 to 93% below typical ridership.

The California Public Utilities Commission, the regulatory agency for utilities in California, has 14 days to approve the safety verification, according to Santa Clara County.

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The announced opening of the two new BART stations is a major milestone in the agency's BART to Silicon Valley extension plan, which is divided into two phases.

Phase I is refers to the 10-mile Berryessa extension. It will connect BART from the Warm Spring station in Fremont to two new stations: one in Milpitas near the Great Mall and the other is the Berryessa station in the north San Jose neighborhood of Berryessa.

According to VTA's website, $2.3 billion of funding made Phase I of the extension possible. $1.07 billion was allocated thanks to "Ballot Measure A" - a 30-year half cent sales tax approved by by Santa Clara County voters in November 2000. $363 million came from the State of California Traffic Congestion Relief Program and $900 million from the Federal Transit Administrations New Starts Program.

Santa Clara County did not want to join the BART district when it formed in 1965, leaving the county (VTA) to have to build their own tracks and BART stations. BART will come in and operate them.

Phase II of the South Bay BART extension is 6 miles long and includes four more stations, with stops in east and downtown San Jose, the Diridon intermodal transit hub and Santa Clara.

Earlier this month BART unveiled new service maps including the Milpitas and Berryessa stations.

ABC7 News partners the Mercury News reports Phase II of BART's expansion project is being pushed back by four years and could open in 2029 or 2030 instead of by 2026, as earlier reported.

The hold up involves VTA's plan to use one of the largest tunnel-boring machines ever built to dig through miles of earth needed to be removed to make way for the tunnel needed to house two BART trains and platforms.

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