Faced with a $30 million deficit, Caltrain CEO Mike Scanlon announced a series of service cuts. The cuts are intended to help the rail system operate over the next year or two. Officials warn, however, that a longer term solution would require an infusion of public funding, and that would mean a voter-approved tax hike.
The cuts include the closure of three stations: Hayward Park Station in San Mateo, Bayshore, and Capitol Station in San Jose. Other stations will be closed on weekends, including the Belmont, San Carlos, Atherton, and California Avenue stations in Palo Alto, San Antonio Station in Mountain View and Lawrence Station in Sunnyvale. There will also be fewer trains to special events such as sporting events, though it has not yet been decided exactly how this service will be affected.
Commuters will also have to wait longer between trains, often as much as nine minutes. The ride between San Jose and San Francisco will also take longer, by as much as ten minutes, because express trains will stop at more stations along the way.
Revenue will be increased through a fare hike of $0.25 per one-way trip and higher parking fees. The key to the solution of Caltrain’s problems, however, was its ability to work out a settlement with other local transportation providers over the amount of money they provide Caltrain. The VTA, for example, has promised to contribute an additional $7 million.
Not everyone is happy with the service reductions or the longer commute time, but they are relieved that Caltrain has been able to avoid the nuclear option, so far. In the worst case scenario, Caltrain had planned to cut the number of stations in half and only operate them during rush hour.