Caltrain faces steep deficit

Despite having slashed nearly $2 million since February from Caltrain’s projected deficit for the fiscal year beginning July 1, board members will still face a $3.7 million gap at today’s meeting.

The commuter train agency will have to make some difficult decisions in order to balance the budget, spokesman Jonah Weinberg said.

In past years, Caltrain has called on reserves or used one-time federal or state monies to help it close deficits. But with those options nearly tapped out, board members may have little choice but to increase the amount San Mateo, Santa Clara and San Francisco counties contribute to Caltrain, agency board member and county supervisor Jerry Hill said.

Under the current agreement, San Mateo County pays about $16 million; Santa Clara pays $15 million; and San Francisco pays $6.8 million toward train operations each year, according to Caltrain.

With parking fees already increased last October and train fares raised at the beginning of April, theCaltrain board is running out of opportunities, Hill said.

A plan to expand express service by adding a sixth passenger car to Baby Bullet trains, the equivalent to about 800 seats per hour, by 2009 could also bring in revenue, Weinberg said.

An even better solution, but one that may have to wait until 2014, is electrification of Caltrain, Weinberg said. Not only could electric trains accommodate more riders, but they would save about $10 million in fuel costs annually.

One option Hill hopes board members don’t consider is service cuts.

“I would hate to see us reduce service at a time when more people than ever are choosing to ride the train,” he said.

ecarpenter@examiner.com

Bay Area NewsLocal

If you find our journalism valuable and relevant, please consider joining our Examiner membership program.
Find out more at www.sfexaminer.com/join/

Just Posted

Parents and students line up socially distanced before the first day of in-person learning at Bret Harte Elementary School on Monday, April 12, 2021. (Kevin N. Hume/S.F. Examiner)
‘It’s a beautiful sight’: The first students return to the classroom

San Francisco’s youngest public school students stepped into classrooms for in-person learning… Continue reading

File
Latest Breed nominee for Police Commission moves forward

Immigration attorney Jim Byrne clears Board of Supervisors committee

San Francisco Giants pitcher Anthony DeSclafani (26) starts against the Colorado Rockies at Oracle Park on April 11, 2021 in San Francisco, California. (Photography by Chris Victorio | Special to the S.F. Examiner).
Giants finish sweep of Rockies behind DeSclafani’s scoreless outing

Even with fans back at Oracle Park, San Francisco Giants pitchers have… Continue reading

Kindergarten teacher Chris Johnson in his classroom at Bryant Elementary School ahead of the school’s reopening on Friday, April 9, 2021. (Kevin N. Hume/S.F. Examiner)
SFUSD students are going back to the classroom

After more than a year of distance learning, city schools begin reopening on Monday

Keith Zwölfer, director of education for SFFILM, stays busy connecting filmmakers and studios with public, private and home schools<ins>. (Kevin N. Hume/S.F. Examiner) </ins>
Streamlined SF film festival focuses on family features

SFFILM Director of Education Keith Zwölfer finds movies that appeal to kids

Most Read