VTA streetcar restart plans pushed back as officials discuss what to do with San Jose firing site

SAN JOSE, Calif. (KGO) – Wednesday, July 14, 2021 will mark seven weeks since the deadly mass shooting at the Valley Transportation Authority (VTA) streetcar yard in San Jose. Since then, the agency has discontinued light rail service in the area.

Last week, the VTA announced that it planned to resume service by the end of July. However, at Tuesday evening VTA board meeting, this calendar has been pushed back and postponed to potentially fall 2021.

RELATED: Santa Clara VTA to Receive $20M in Stimulus Funding as Light Rail Service Remains Halted

Part of the council’s discussion focused on what would happen to the filming site. Any return to the Guadalupe Light Rail Yard could involve renovation or reconstruction.

By now, many have seen the body camera footage, recorded the morning of the massacre. The chilling four-minute video showed the first responder team on a mission to locate and stop the active shooter.

VIDEO: Sheriff’s Department releases body camera footage of VTA court shooting

To date, there is physical damage to the facility, as well as emotional scars for employees who will eventually return.

The topic, serious enough to spark discussions about how to rebuild.

“It has been determined that we cannot return to Building B,” VTA’s Robert Daniels said at the board meeting. “Due to the incident, parts of the 3rd floor of Building A are difficult to return and need to be remodeled or rebuilt.”

Daniels was introduced as a project manager to take over light rail service. He explained that these options could take between three and five years.

“A simple remodel – nine months of construction design, nine months of construction, permits, all the time – it can take three years,” he explained. “If we’re able to rebuild and build a facility that will meet our future needs and for the public, you’re talking 3-5 years now.”

RELATED: SJ Unanimously Approves New Gun Control Plan Following Massive VTA Yard Shooting

Reconstruction is not a new idea, as buildings implicated in many of the nation’s mass shootings were demolished after those tragedies.

“It’s sad, but it’s true,” Santa Clara University said. Psychology professor Dr. Thomas Plante told ABC7 News. “There are so many communities that have had to deal with this issue that they’ve probably learned lessons along the way that they can share with San Jose.”

Dr Plante added that it becomes a real challenge to rebuild every place where there is a shooting.

“There is no doubt that people are traumatized,” he continued. “You want to do your best to help these people, somehow, come back to life.”

“And so, I don’t know what the best answer is. I don’t know if anyone knows what the best answer is,” Dr. Plante said.

VIDEO: Mass shooting in San Jose: Victims remembered after VTA light rail station attack

In the meantime, VTA is setting up interim work sites that would allow for the necessary training and transition, before rail service resumes.

The agency presented its six-phase reopening schedule which maps service, staff and infrastructure.

However, those plans won’t come soon enough for a few, critical of having gone nearly seven weeks without light rail service. Many spoke during Tuesday’s public comment period.

VIDEO: SJ mandates videotaping of all gun purchases just weeks after deadly mass shooting

One person shared, “First of all, I had to take three buses instead of one light rail and one bus. So it takes me longer to get to work.”

“Secondly,” continued the VTA pilot, “The football season is right around the corner. So we need to get this thing in place as soon as possible.”

Another shared, “The reason we are in the current situation is that we had no backup facilities in the light rail system. How we got here I have no idea.”

The VTA clarified on Tuesday that there was no set restart date for rail service. The agency ‘Roadmap for the resumption of light rail service‘shows which may occur closer to September.

For more details on VTA’s plans, click here.

Copyright © 2022 KGO-TV. All rights reserved.

Jose P. Rogers