Officials urge boost in Caltrain service

Local officials are banding together to call for increased local Caltrain service to smaller stations, particularly as transit-oriented development centered around the commuter rail line kicks into gear.

A 14-member team of local officials announced Thursday the formation of the Coalition to Expand Train Service, which aims to work with Caltrain and other transportation agencies to increase ridership and expand local service, Burlingame Vice Mayor and group spokewoman Terry Nagel said.

While the Baby Bullet service, inaugurated in 2004, boosted ridership by 13 percent, cuts in the number of stops at non-express stations since then have resulted in fewer riders at stations such as San Bruno and Belmont, according to Caltrain statistics.

Furthermore, despite protests from local officials, Caltrain has completely cut weekday service to Broadway and Atherton stations due to low ridership and budget constraints.

The cuts came after some cities began planning for dense, mixed-use development around their train stations, Menlo Park Vice Mayor Kelly Fergusson said. CETS members fear that the decrease in service to certain stations will discourage businesses and homebuilders from setting up shop in their areas

“One example is Hayward Park [in San Mateo],” Nagel said. “It’s pretty much a ghost town because they reduced service. You can’t entice developers to do this type of building if you can’t have adequate train service.”

San Mateo last year approved major zoning changes that allow for transit-oriented development around the Hayward Park and Hillsdale Caltrain stations. Officials and environmental groups are already touting the planned Bay Meadows Racecourse redevelopment as a shining example of transit-oriented project with its 83 acres of housing, retail and office next to the Caltrain line.

Millbrae officials, using the Caltrain/BART hub as a centerpiece, similarly aim to turn the area around Millbrae Avenue and El Camino Real into an easy-to-navigate commuter haven, with several mixed-use projects already under way to realize this goal.

Millbrae Councilwoman Gina Papan said Millbrae’s proximity to San Francisco International Airport will still bring riders to the intermodal station, which is aBaby Bullet stop, but said she still harbors concerns about neighboring cities’ transit-dependent projects.

Renewed service to Broadway or Atherton remains unlikely in the near future, officials said.

“We’re happy to work with them,” said Jonah Weinberg, a Caltrain spokesman. “But we’re not planning on changing our service model. We frankly don’t have enough room to add trains, and we have a limited amount of equipment.”

San Mateo County Supervisor Jerry Hill agreed that transit-oriented development was essential to smart growth, and was amenable to improving shuttle service between stations and encouraging employers to provide their own shuttles to mass transit.

“Everyone’s goal is to provide efficient, economical and comfortable transit service so people will use Caltrain even more in the future,” Hill said.

Nagel said shuttles and business outreach would help improve connections with stations.

Bay Area NewsLocal

Just Posted

Salesforce Tower and several other buildings in downtown San Francisco can be seen through the fog; climate scientists report that The City’s beloved mascot may be on the decline. (Courtesy Engel Ching)
Is San Francisco losing its fog? Scientists fear the worst

This isn’t just an identity crisis for San Franciscans. It’s an ecological problem

The Bay Area is vying to be one of 16 communities,<ins> spread across the U.S., Canada and Mexico,</ins> to host the 2026 FIFA World Cup soccer championships. Games would be played at Levi’s Stadium in Santa Clara. (Courtesy Bay Area Host Committee, World Cup 2026)
Bay Area launches bid to host World Cup games in 2026

FIFA officials pay San Francisco a visit as they tour prospective venues

Carmen Chu became City Administrator in February, after her predecessor, Naomi Kelly, resigned in connection to the ongoing corruption scandal at City Hall. (Kevin N. Hume/S.F. Examiner)
Report knocks City Administrator for innefficiency, lack of transparency

‘A culture that allows corruption to take place’

Outside Lands boasts high-quality food and drink from dozens of purveyors, and many are local.<ins> (Courtesy Outside Lands)</ins>
Outside Lands is for food lovers

85 food vendors, 40 wineries, 30 breweries make the festival nourishing to gluttonous

California Highway Patrol officers watch as Caltrans workers remove barricades from homeless camp sites as residents are forced to relocate from a parking lot underneath Interstate 80 on Monday, May 17, 2021. (Kevin N. Hume/S.F. Examiner)
San Francisco’s broken promise to resolve homeless encampments

‘There is an idea that The City is leading with services, and they are not’

Most Read