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Coronavirus Update: VTA Santa Clara Valley Service Grinds To Halt After Trainee Tests Positive

SAN JOSE (CBS SF) -- All Santa Clara Valley Transportation Authority light rail train service was halted indefinitely early Thursday after a light rail operator trainee tested posted for the coronavirus, officials said.

VTA spokeswoman Brandi Childress said in a statement that the agency was informed of the positive coronavirus test late Wednesday, and were working to determine the extent of the spread.

Childress wasn't able to provide an update on the condition of the employee.

The infected person did operate some trains, but VTA says its drivers are separated from the public by a partitioned cab.

Childress said the light rail service shutdown began at 11:30 p.m. Wednesday. The six trains in service at the time were taken out of service and sweeps were done to make sure passengers weren't stranded.

According to Childress, VTA operators were being told to shelter-in-place and receive further instructions on whether to quarantine and/or get tested.

Trains will remain in the VTA's operation division for thorough cleanings.

Thursday, the tracks in the north San Jose VTA yard were filled with columns of idle trains. And aside from the occasional would-be rider who didn't get the word, the light rail stations were empty and silent except for a recorded message saying, "Your attention please, there is no light rail service at this time."

With no bus bridge available to cover the VTA light rail routes, those who were relying on the VTA trains will now have to find another way to get around.

VTA says buses are taking up the slack, but light rail riders say it's an inconvenience.

"I have to get to work late.  A half hour late now," said rider Wayne Daly. He said bus schedules and drop off points are different.  "I have to do a little more walking and it takes me a little more time."

On Wednesday, the transit agency announced that ridership numbers down sharply amid the coronavirus shelter in place, leading it to reduce service effective next week.

"With 82 percent fewer riders the last seven weeks or so, that does significantly lessen the impact of course," VTA spokesman Ken Blackstone said.

Beginning Monday, VTA will reduce light-rail service to two-car trains running every 30 minutes, with all bus and light-rail trips after 9 p.m. canceled except for Route 22, which goes between the Palo Alto and Eastridge transit centers and will continue to run 24 hours a day.


The actions are similar to ones taken by BART, which reduced its service hours to end at 9 p.m. starting this past Monday. VTA's Express 181 route will operate to match BART's new schedule, offering service past 9 p.m.  to meet the last BART trains at the Warm Springs station.

The agency has also suspended all in-person service at its River Oaks office on North First Street in San Jose, as well as the Downtown Customer Service Center on West Santa Clara Street in San Jose.

All questions or concerns can be sent by phone at (408) 321-2300 or by email at from 6 a.m. to 7 p.m. on weekdays and 7:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Saturdays

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