California’s Santa Clara Valley Transportation Authority (VTA) on Aug. 29 resumed partial light rail service. In addition, the Maryland Department of Transportation Maryland Transit Administration (MDOT MTA) on Aug. 30 launched CharmFlex, a discounted three- and 10-day pass for flexible commuter travel.
VTA trains on Aug. 29 began operating along the Orange Line, which serves the Mountain View Caltrain Station, Levi’s Stadium in Santa Clara, Milpitas Transit Center/BART Station and Alum Rock Light Rail Station in East San Jose (see map below). Starting Aug. 30, and until further notice, trains will operate along the entire Orange Line and part of the Green line, with bus bridge service continuing. Service on the Orange Line will run from 5:30 a.m. to midnight (every 20 minutes until 8 p.m., and every 30 minutes thereafter). Service on the Green Line will run from Civic Center to Old Ironsides from 6 a.m. to 10 p.m. (every 20 minutes until 8 p.m., and every 30 minutes thereafter). Light rail fares will not be collected until Sept. 13, 2021.
A bus bridge will run along First Street from Paseo de San Antonio to Baypointe and onto Milpitas Transit Center/BART Station. It will operate every 30 minutes from 5:30 a.m. to 8:30 p.m.
Light rail service had been suspended since the May 26 shooting at the Guadalupe Yard. There were 10 fatalities and multiple injuries. The gunman, a VTA employee, was among the dead.
VTA on Aug. 24 began testing light rail trains from its Guadalupe Yard in downtown San Jose to Baypointe Station in North San Jose along North First Street, as part of its six-phase service restoration plan (see below). It announced on the same day that it expected to relaunch service during the week of Aug. 22.
“As we continue to bring back employees safely and compassionately, we will update the public on the level of light rail service we can safely continue to provide,” VTA said. “Service on the remaining segments of the Green and Blue lines will come back in phases.
“We appreciate the patience of our riding community and will continue to provide updates as service expands.”
MDOT MTA has introduced CharmFlex to accommodate riders “returning to on-site work in more flexible or hybrid work schedules.” CharmFlex three- and 10-day passes are available only on the CharmPass mobile fare payment app, and can be used on Commuter Bus and MARC Train (offering six and 20 one-way fares) as well as Local Bus, Light Rail and Metro Subway. The passes can be used on consecutive or non-consecutive days and are valid for up to 12 months after the date of purchase.
With CharmFlex fares, riders will pay about 15% less compared with the cost of a day-pass or single-trip fare, MDOT MTA reported.
“As Maryland’s economy continues to recover and riders return to transit, we’re excited to offer new fare options that address the needs of our riders,” MDOT MTA Acting Administrator Holly Arnold said. “CharmFlex provides the best value for riders traveling only a few times a week or on non-consecutive days.”
MDOT MTA previously announced resumption of full service for MARC Train and Commuter Bus, effective Aug. 30.
“While still down significantly compared with pre-pandemic levels, transit ridership has begun to return,” MDOT MTA reported. “For the second quarter of 2021—April, May and June—ridership across all MDOT MTA services was up 20% compared with the same period in 2020. Core Bus ridership is now down 40% compared to pre-pandemic figures after being down about 50% in 2020. MARC ridership is currently down about 80% compared to pre-pandemic levels—an improvement from when it was down 90% in August 2020.”