Horn debate will cost Caltrain about $200K

Caltrain’s back-and-forth efforts to soften the sound of its horns may be calming annoyed Peninsula residents, but the work is stirring up the agency’s balance sheets.

After abandoning a brief experiment to place horns on top of trains, Caltrain is in the midst of moving them back to their original location in an operation that will cost the department some $200,000.

The noise issue dates back to June, when a check on the transit agency’s fleet revealed the horns didn’t comply with federal regulations, which include a requirement that the horns must toot in a distinct pattern.

For the horns to make that sound, Caltrain had to place them on the top of its trains — but the amplified sound that resulted drew an immediate backlash from Peninsula residents.

As a way to appease the train line’s neighbors, Caltrain agreed to reconfigure the horns so they could be moved back to the bottom of the trains, while still following regulations.

The whole operation will cost the department an extra $200,000 in maintenance and labor costs. Today, staff will ask Caltrain’s Board of Directors to authorize the expenditures.

wreisman@sfexaminer.com

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