Mayor Chuck Reed knows a thing or two about dealing with deficits, which may be why a South Bay consortium of local businesses has invited him to chime in on the CalTrain problem. The transportation provider is financially strapped, and officials claim it only has enough money to operate during the morning and evening rush hour commutes. That would mean no midday service and no service on weekends for the commuter railroad, which has serviced the Bay Area since the late 1800s.

The problem, they say, is that CalTrain does not receive any federal or state funding to operate. Its funding comes from commuter fares and money channeled to it from Muni, Samtrans and the Santa Clara Valley Transportation Authority. This has left the service with a $30 million deficit for the coming fiscal year and a reliance on funding from other transportation groups, which are themselves cash strapped.

On the other hand, San Jose depends on CalTrain as part of its transportation infrastructure. Fewer trains mean more cars on the already overtaxed highway system, with the city’s roads already deemed the worst in the country. On the other hand, it seems unlikely that more money could be diverted to CalTrain without raising taxes, and that will have to win voter approval first.

Reed may have budget problems of his own to deal with, but failing to tackle the problem of CalTrain will only exacerbate the city’s budgetary woes.
Read More at ABC 7.