Caltrain budget bolstered by increased ridership, parking revenue 

click to enlarge Caltrain has seen an unexpected boost from ridership, but without long-term funding, the agency says budget woes will persist. - SF EXAMINER FILE PHOTO
  • SF Examiner file photo
  • Caltrain has seen an unexpected boost from ridership, but without long-term funding, the agency says budget woes will persist.

Higher operating costs will hit Caltrain, but the regional rail system won’t hit customers’ wallets because of higher-than-expected fares and increased revenue from parking lots.

Caltrain’s budget is $103.8 million, but high fuel prices, delays in implementing a new labor contract and increased security costs have increased the budget to $106.4 million.

In September, the agency contracted with TransitAmerica to run its system, ending a 20-year partnership with Amtrak. Terms are still being negotiated, and Caltrain will spend $1.5 million more than anticipated.

Caltrain can cover these costs because it earned $3.4 million more than expected from fares, and an extra $211,254 in parking lot fees. Spokesman Mark Simon said the traffic surge is probably from the rebounding economy.

Finances also benefited from the agency’s 2011 deal with its regional transportation partners to provide one-time funding solutions that would sustain Caltrain operations.

Simon cautioned that budget woes will return in the future without long-term funding.

“We still have a fiscal crisis,” he said. “The problems that caused these threatened service cuts haven’t been resolved; they’ve just been taped and patched together.”

wreisman@sfexaminer.com

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Will Reisman

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