Obama proposes hundreds of millions for BART, Muni, Caltrain

If President Barack Obama has his way, BART, Muni and Caltrain will each net hundreds of millions of dollars from the federal government.

The money is part of Obama’s Fiscal Year 2017 budget, which starts in October.

The $3.5 billion in transportation funding is also recommended by U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx.

If approved by Congress, it would help the Bay Area electrify Caltrain, build a new BART extension, and pay for current construction of a San Francisco subway.

There are several Bay Area projects in this program, most earmarked for 2017. The San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency, which runs Muni, is recommended to gain over $173 million for the Central Subway, which will run from Union Square to Chinatown.

“This year’s budget once again highlights the administration’s ongoing commitment to transit investments,” said Paul Rose, a spokesman for SFMTA.

The San Jose Silicon Valley Berryessa BART Extension Project is recommended to receive $125 million. And in a huge gain for those looking to speed Caltrain, the Peninsula Corridor Electrification Project for Caltrain Modernization is recommended to receive $125 million.

“These projects transform communities, improving mobility and access to jobs, education and other important opportunities for millions of people,” said Secretary Foxx, in a statement.

Electrification is part of a larger Caltrain modernization program that will replace the diesel system with a more modern electric system, according to the Department of Transportation. The project will replace both train cars and infrastructure.

If Caltrain receives the funding, it “will have a sizeable impact” on the $430 million still needed to pay for electrification, Caltrain spokeswoman Jayme Ackemann said.

Caltrain will also get $73 million that had been allocated in previous years, she said, leaving a deficit of $232 million.

A report by the Bay Area Air Quality Management District said Caltrain will be able to run 114 cars per day rather than 92 and reduce emissions by up to 97 percent by 2040.

Bay City News contributed to this report.

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