The Santa Clara Valley Transportation Authority operates a light rail system consisting of 42.2 mi (67.9 km) of track on two main lines and a spur line. There are currently 62 light rail stations in operation on the three lines. The light rail system was opened in 1987 and has gradually expanded since then. Its average weekday ridership as of June 2008 was 37,536.
Alum Rock — Santa Teresa
Designated as 901, this line runs from the Alum Rock Transit Center in East San Jose (or Alum Rock) to Santa Teresa station in the Santa Teresa neighborhood of San Jose, via Milpitas and downtown San Jose. There are 36 stops on this line. In South San Jose, the line operates in the median of State Route 87 and 85. A proposed future development is an extension past Alum Rock along Capitol Ave. and Capitol Expressway to the Eastridge Transit Center, which would effectively duplicate (and possibly replace) the current service by the 522 bus line along this corridor.
Mountain View — Winchester
Designated as 902, this line runs from Downtown Mountain View station in Mountain View through Sunnyvale, Santa Clara, North San Jose along Tasman Drive, North First Street, Downtown San Jose, and the Southwest Expressway on its way to its terminus at the Winchester station in western Campbell. It has 32 stops, 14 of which are shared with the Alum Rock-Santa Teresa Line. To reach San Jose Diridon Station (interchange to Amtrak and commuter rail services) the line tunnels under the station and rail yard; en route to Winchester the line shares the route with Union Pacific Railroad freight tracks.
Designated as 900, this is a 3-stop spur from the Ohlone/Chyoweth station to Almaden station at the Almaden Expressway in the Almaden Valley. The Ohlone/Chynoweth station provides connection to the Alum Rock-Santa Teresa Line, and the Almaden station connects to VTA bus service. It receives little traffic, even though there is an intermediate stop at the Westfield Oakridge mall.
Light rail vehicles
From 1987 until September 2003, the system was served by a fleet of high-floor light rail vehicles built by Urban Transportation Development Corporation. In 2002, VTA introduced new low floor light rail vehicles by Kinki Sharyo into the fleet. The low floor vehicles initially operated only on the Tasman West line (Downtown Mountain View — I-880/Milpitas) because the vehicles’ floor height matched the platform height only at that line’s stations and was only able to provide level-boarding there. In 2003, after VTA reconstructed platforms along North First Street from the Japantown/Ayer stop northward (with wooden ramps provided for the leading car’s front door at all other stations), VTA replaced the entire fleet with low floor light rail vehicles. The 29 (802-830) high floor vehicles were sold to Utah Transit Authority and 20 (831-850) sold to Sacramento Regional Transit. Only one car was retained as a wrecker. Currently, all stations provide level boarding at all doors.