San José city council moves forward with airport transit system

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The City of San José in California has approved a contract for a dedicated transit system, named the Diridon-Airport Connector, to connect the city’s transportation hubs – Diridon Station and San José Mineta International Airport (SJC).

The proposed transit technology from Glydways uses small, autonomous vehicles driving along a fixed guideway, and the proposed system is designed to initially carry over 2,000 passengers an hour in each direction. The new transit system is intended to be completed in less than a decade. If successful, the Airport to Diridon Connector Project could be expanded to other corridors across San José and the South Bay.

The city council voted to accept a staff recommendation to enter a pre-development agreement with a group of firms under the name San Jose Connection Partners, led by equity partner Plenary Americas. Members of the San Jose Connection Partners team included: Plenary Americas (lead developer and equity provider); Glydways (transit technology provider); Webcor/Obayashi (lead design and construction contractors); HNTB (lead designer); and ACI (operations and maintenance provider).

The staff recommendation follows a multi-year process and is based on a competitive request for proposals that was open from May until November of 2022. The selection of San Jose Connection Partners was based on a combination of a strong team, a well-thought-out solution and competitive costs.

By approving the staff recommendation, the city council directs the administration to enter the first phase of a multi-phase agreement to develop the project. It will result in a Project Feasibility Validation Report. That report will enable the city to validate the technical, commercial and financial viability of the proposed solution. If the staff validates the proposed approach, the project will again return to council for consideration and direction to move on to the next phase. The second phase will include further design and environmental study.

“Diridon Station is poised to become the most significant rail and bus hub on the West Coast in the decades ahead,” said San José Mayor Matt Mahan. “It just makes sense to connect this central station with San Jose’s exceptional airport, which serves over 11 million people per year. I’m hopeful that a public-private partnership will enable us to deliver a seamless connection cost-effectively for both riders and taxpayers.”

John Ristow, City of San Jose’s director of transportation, commented, “This is an early step in an exciting, first-of-its-kind project for San José. The city is working to give people more car-free options that are safer, cleaner, and more pleasant than sitting in traffic. We’re hoping that this project serves as a model for future transit solutions that can be quickly expanded across San José.”

John Aitken, director of aviation at San Jose International, added, “San José Mineta International Airport is on a positive growth trajectory, and our new airport branding sums up what travelers can expect at SJC: Fly Simple. This new transit connection to our terminals will provide another convenient option for our passengers and reiterate why our airport is recognized as the number one airport in North America for customer experience.”

Dale Bonner, executive chairman at Plenary Americas, stated, “The San Jose Connection Partners team is incredibly excited to partner with the City of San José in creating an innovative, new transit solution to better connect the San José Mineta International Airport and Diridon Station. We look forward to working with the city and key stakeholders on this project.”

Read more construction and architecture updates from the passenger terminal industry, here.

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