Caltrain to Hold Public Hearings on Fiscal Emergency, Service Cuts

Up to 16 stations would no longer see Caltrain service under the latest proposal. Image: Caltrain

The Caltrain Board of Directors has decided to hold a series of public hearings and community meetings before voting on a declaration of fiscal emergency and approving dramatic cuts that would slash service and potentially close up to 16 stations.

“Hopefully, we will be able to come up with additional funding sources before we are forced to implement drastic service changes,” Caltrain Executive Director Michael Scanlon said in a statement.

If approved, the cuts would become effective July 2 and include a reduction in weekday service from 86 to 48 peak-hour trains along with eliminating midday, evening, and weekend service altogether, according to Caltrain spokesperson Christine Dunn. The board is also considering a 25-cent base fare hike.

Under the latest proposal, the six stations south of San Jose Diridon Station would no longer see Caltrain service and up to seven of the ten following stations could be closed: Bayshore, South San Francisco, San Bruno, Burlingame, Hayward Park, Belmont, San Antonio, Lawrence, Santa Clara, and College Park. Combined with three weekend-only stops, closures could affect a total of 16, or half of the system’s 32 stations.

Although Caltrain lacks a dedicated funding stream, it is considered one of the Bay Area’s most efficient public transit systems with a 47-percent farebox recovery, second only to BART [pdf]. Its administrative staff costs are among the lowest in the country at 6.4 percent of the budget. With the proposed service reductions, Caltrain would see its fiscal year 2012 deficit of $30 million reduced to $4.7 million.

Caltrain is offering the public a chance to comment at four community meetings. It will also hold a public hearing at the board’s next scheduled meeting on March 3.

Caltrain community meetings:

Feb. 14 – 7 pm. San Jose City Hall
200 East Santa Clara St., City Council Chambers, San Jose

Feb. 16 – 6 pm. San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency
1 South Van Ness, Atrium, San Francisco

Feb. 17 – 6 pm. Gilroy Senior Center
7371 Hanna St., Gilroy

Feb. 17 – 6 pm. San Mateo County Transit District
1250 San Carlos Ave., second floor auditorium San Carlos