Caltrain board opts to delay service cuts in hopes of finding funding

In a surprise move Thursday, Caltrain’s Board of Directors opted to delay a proposal to raise fares, close stations and cut service, leaving hope that the agency may be able to close its $30 million budget deficit without any major impact on its passengers.

The Caltrain staff had recommended a series of cost saving moves, including eliminating the agency’s popular Baby Bullet line, closing three stations, and increasing of base fares by 25 cents.

While not pretty, that package of measures was a lot less drastic than the doomsday scenario first floated by the agency, which included the elimination of all but weekday peak-time trains, and the shuttering of seven transit stations.

Caltrain was able to avoid that unseemly scenario by working with regional transportation groups to find funding sources that partially closed the agency’s $30 million shortfall. On Thursday, the agency appeared poised to move forward with its scaled-back cost-saving plan.

However, Caltrain’s board opted to delay any decisions for another two weeks, with the hope that the remaining funding could be identified, and the agency could avert service cuts altogether. The agency needs to identify another $3.5 million in funding in order maintain current service and station levels.

“We need to go back in the next two weeks for that $3.5 million,” said board member Adrienne Tissier.  “We can bring full service back. We can keep stations open. We can keep Baby Bullet alive.”

The agency will hold a special hearing at 10 a.m. on April 21 to discuss the budget-balancing proposals again.

wreisman@sfexaminer.com

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