Caltrain riders favor higher fares instead of service cut

Faced with the dubious choice between fare increases and service reductions, Caltrain passengers have indicated their willingness to pay extra if it means keeping more trains on the tracks.

In June, the regional transit agency approved a budget with a $2.3 million deficit, under the auspices that the shortfall would be made up with some combination of fare increases and service reductions.

Possibilities for the service changes included the elimination of weekend service and service to Gilroy, and a reduction in general weekday train service. The fare increase proposals included a 25-cent hike to all base fares, or a 25-cent raise to zone prices, meaning passengers would pay more based on how far they traveled within Caltrain’s six pay zones.

After the completion of a series of community meetings to gather rider feedback, the consensus has become clear that Caltrain passengers are far more averse to service reductions than to fare increases. Of the 1,008 comments collected by the agency, more than half were pleas to keep weekend and Gilroy service intact, according to Caltrain spokeswoman Christine Dunn.

In reaction to the feedback, Caltrain officials said they would no longer consider eliminating weekend and Gilroy service.

At its board of directors meeting today, the agency will hold a formal public hearing to get more responses to the budget-balancing
proposals, which also include charging more at parking lots and eliminating manned ticket offices.

By October, Caltrain will come up with an official proposal to solve its $2.3 million deficit.

wreisman@sfexaminer.com

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