While San Jose’s International Airport continues growing by leaps and bounds, travelers are still hampered by a problem that does not effect other Bay Area airports. But San Jose Mayor Sam Liccardo is reaching out to a tech giant in hopes of solving the problem.
Elon Musk has been tunneling under the City of Angels, searching for a solution to traffic gridlock. Tuesday, while toasting the Lunar New Year, San Jose Mayor Sam Liccardo revealed he’s been in talks with Musk’s tunnel Boring Company, to possibly provide an underground link for two South Bay staples.
“A critical next step for us is to connect the airport with all the transit we have here in town at Diridon Station,” said Liccardo.
Liccardo says linking the train station and airport was a goal dating back to the passage of Measure A in 2000. But a traditional rail link moving part of the estimated 14-million passengers annually would cost nearly a billion.
Currently getting from train station to airport involves taxis, ride shares, or the use of the Valley Transportation Authority light rail. But the light rail requires hoping on a bus shuttle to complete the three mile trip. There’s no direct fast link.
“And that just adds one layer, of complexity for a passenger. It would be much easier if someone could get off a plane, grab their bags and hop on a single transit system,” said Dr. Hilary Nixon, deputy executive director of the Mineta Transportation Institute.
San Francisco and Oakland airports already have connections to BART, which whisks passengers all over the Bay Area. Doctor Nixon believes the area around Diridon Station is set for growth and transformation, with the impending Google Village; a high-speed rail line; and BART’s expansion through downtown San Jose. A link to the airport using advanced tunneling technology is needed.
“We aren’t looking to put roads underground. We’re looking for some mechanism to large quantities of individuals from Diridon station area to the airport and vice versa,” said Dr. Nixon. Added Mayor Liccardo, “If we can find a cheaper more cost effective way of doing it, let’s do it.”
The mayor is putting out a Request For Information in the next few weeks, to see if other companies can turn a boring idea into a viable link between the train and plane.