VTA looks to improve service to Levi's Stadium

Overcrowding, long waits marred light rail's service to new stadium's first event on Saturday

The Santa Clara Valley Transportation Authority is assessing ways to improve carrying fans to Levi's Stadium in Santa Clara after the first event there Saturday included long wait times and overcrowded light-rail cars, an agency spokeswoman said today.

The VTA moved about 9,000 people to the stadium for the San Jose Earthquakes' soccer match against the Seattle Sounders FC, with 8,300 taking the agency's light-rail system and 700 coming in express buses, VTA spokeswoman Colleen Valles said.

"There are a lot of things that went well and some things did not go right," Valles said. "We have a lot of things to look at, what worked, what didn't work."

On the positive side, VTA's express bus service to the stadium worked well and passengers also transferred smoothly from Caltrain trains to the light-rail station in Mountain View to get to the match, according to VTA officials.

But other light-rail riders had a more difficult time. Wait times for people trying to get on trains ranged from 15 minutes to an hour and was the worst after the match at the Great America station on Tasman Drive, Valles said.

Too many passengers at times crammed into the light-rail vehicles and "the cars would get packed," she said.

At one point, one of the light-rail trains lost power and stalled while taking passengers to the stadium.

The air conditioning went down and stayed off during the hot summer day even after power was restored and the train resumed its run, Valles said.

The transit agency might decide to deploy more light-rail trains at different times to deal with the wait times and overcrowding during future big events at Levi's Stadium, according to Valles.

Saturday's match attracted 48,765 fans to the stadium, where the Earthquakes defeated Seattle 1-0.

The $1.3 billion Levi's Stadium, with a seating capacity for 68,500 fans, is the new home field for the San Francisco 49ers football team, which will have its first game there on Aug. 17, a preseason contest against the Denver Broncos.

The VTA will be in better shape by the 49ers preseason game when its "pocket track" for light-rail will be completed, Valles said.

The track on Tasman Drive will hold in reserve three three-car trains for up to 1,350 passengers that can be sent out to move riders faster during busy times such as when people are departing Levi's Stadium, she said.

The VTA on Saturday also began a pilot program of charging people $20 a day to park at its River Oaks and Interstate Highway 880/Milpitas light-rail station lots during events at Levi's, Valles said.

The program, involving a few hundred parking spaces at the stations, is meant to provide a revenue stream for VTA over the course of the 49ers' first season at Levi's and will include events other than football games, she said.

— Bay City News Service


Like this comment
Posted by Common sense
a resident of Old Mountain View
on Aug 6, 2014 at 11:03 am

Problems with VTA were prominent in the Chronicle's report of opening day: Web Link

I thought this stadium was greeted as a godsend by VTA (at last! riders!!), yet the agency still doesn't seem to've been ready for it.

Like this comment
Posted by Not a VTA fan
a resident of Blossom Valley
on Aug 6, 2014 at 3:03 pm

I plan on using light rail to attend niners games. As usual, VTA service is underwhelming. It may be quicker to walk or ride a bicycle to the stadium.

Like this comment
Posted by Spletz
a resident of another community
on Aug 6, 2014 at 3:37 pm

Better yet, walk or bike on the San Tomas Aquino Creek Trail - it takes you right past the front door of the stadium! Trailhead start/end - El Camino Real at San Tomas to the Bay...past the stadium.

Like this comment
Posted by Probably74
a resident of Cuesta Park
on Aug 6, 2014 at 3:41 pm

Using light rail should be fine if you go early enough. We went to the Quakes game by car, arriving around 7 pm and every light-rail car we saw was packed past full.

Like this comment
Posted by Enough
a resident of North Whisman
on Aug 6, 2014 at 6:30 pm

Shut down the VTA during games. Let the billion dollar+ 49ers figure out how to get their rich fans into the big bucks seats they gouged them for.

Like this comment
Posted by DC
a resident of Sylvan Park
on Aug 6, 2014 at 11:01 pm

No word on how the transfer from Cal Train to VTA did? I suspect a full train of SF fans transferring to VTA might be a nightmare that Soccer fans did not have.

Like this comment
Posted by 9ers fan
a resident of another community
on Aug 7, 2014 at 8:20 pm

Levi's Stadium is encouraging fans to take public transpiration to the games. They arrive on a somewhat scattered schedule, but they will leave at the SAME time! That meant for this game,the VTA should have been ready to transport 9000 fans in a short period of time, I assume from the Stadium to Mountain View. VTA was NOT prepared and its pretty sad when a fan walking to her car beats her friends traveling by VTA.

If California wants to embrace public transits (aka as HSR, etc.) we should at least be able to transport people 1 1/2 miles (stadium to Mountain View) in less than a couple of hours.

Sorry, but further commenting on this topic has been closed.

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