Some Good News for Caltrain

Overhead electrification in Connecticut. Caltrain electrification will survive the Trump Administration after all. Photo: Wikimedia Commons
Overhead electrification in Connecticut. Caltrain electrification will survive the Trump Administration after all. Photo: Wikimedia Commons

After a whole lot of grim news about the Caltrain electrification project it looks as if, finally, there’s a glimmer of hope. A $100 million glimmer at that! Funding for electrification is included in the budget compromise in the federal budget deal announced last week.

A release from Friends of Caltrain, celebrates the development:

$100 Million for Caltrain electrification was included in this week’s congressional budget deal along with funding for three other new major transit capital projects around the US. The full federal grant for electrification would be $647 million, not paid all at once, so the $100 Million is what would be expected for this budget time frame.

What that means, assuming the Trump Administration signs off on this latest budget plan, is that Caltrain electrification could soon be back on track.

It still means there will be a $547 million gap to fill, but that’s less of an issue than it appears. “If they get the Full Funding Grant Agreement sign-off it means they’ll get the remaining $500 plus million over the next few years as construction moves along,” explained Stuart Cohen, Executive director of TransForm.

Friends of Caltrain, meanwhile, wants advocates to keep up the pressure. As Streetsblog previously reported, they’re asking people to reach out to voters who live in the inland districts, mostly in the Central Valley, where members of Congress blocked electrification funding in the first place. “If you can easily get to San Jose Diridon, Santa Clara, San Francisco Transbay, or Oakland Jack London stations, you can hand out flyers to riders of the ACE, Capitol Corridor or San Joaquin trains and encourage them to call their members of congress blocking electrification. The tools you need are here,” wrote Adina Levin, with Friends of Caltrain, in a statement.

While there’s still much work to do–and who, really, can predict if the Trump Administration will find a way to block this latest appropriation–but it’s a ray of hope for this important transit project for San Jose, San Francisco, and all the cities, counties and employers along the route, and for the entire state.

“This is tremendous news for San Mateo County commuters,” said Cohen. “Caltrain electrification is an absolute necessity to keep our economy humming while reducing climate emissions.”

  • Electrify it all you want, but if the last mile connection to downtown SF isn’t completed, then you’re really not doing riders any favor if they still have to transfer.
    I’m not against electrification at all…I’ve been promoting it for the past 17 of the 17 years I’ve lived in SF, but the DTX keeps getting pushed back to a mere afterthought instead of a cornerstone of transit development. And, for the record, SF Transbay isn’t a “station.” Nor is it easy to get to Jack London from anywhere other than the Capitol Corridor. Also, it may be tremendous news for SM county commuters (to some extent), but does very little for the majority of SF commuters who don’t live within walking distance or a quick Muni ride from the Caltrain station in the city. It will still take an hour for most people to get to 4th/Townsend so in reference to those climate emission reductions, it won’t be from fewer cars on the road.

  • John Murphy

    When I lived on Forest Hill it was a 20 minute bike ride from there to 22nd Street.

    When you talk about the “majority of SF commuters” it’s not like Transbay is in the center of some sort of residential area. Or do you imply people will take transit to Transbay? Because when you say that, the Mission, Glen Park, Balboa Park, and the areas around Daly City can take BART *south* to Millbrae – and with an electrified Caltrain that connection will be better. And even if the connection is a little bit poorly designed it’s a lot better than any potential connection to Transbay

    There’s a reason the trains are already SRO

  • Transbay is in the center of a commercial area, a block and half from major Muni and BART connections. After all, isn’t the $2B+ TTC supposed to be just that? A transit center? However, I’m talking about the other parts of SF that are isolated from the current Caltrain terminus in SOMA. Look at a map of SF and look again at transit.
    It’s great you can ride your bike from Forest Hill to the Caltrain station on 22nd. Many folks can’t.

  • david vartanoff

    Yes, Caltrain needs to be extended. Given facts on and under ground TTC is the plan we should press ahead with. That said, a west side SF crosstown RAIL transit line is badly needed. Either a BART extension under 19th or a Muni rail line on the surface with dedicated ROW connecting Daly City BART to the Richmond needs to be built near term. Given the trafficon 19th there clearly is a market for this routing.

  • SF crosstown rail is badly needed, indeed. Skip Muni light rail, regardless of whether it will run in a dedicated ROW on Geary or 19th Ave. Go with BART. Go underground. Demand for heavy rail here already exists, not to mention a quicker trip. I’d rather spend $3B towards 3 miles of a Geary subway than $3B going towards undergrounding a small part of the M line. 19th Ave/PP is the only major N-S connection in this part of the city, as well as the connection point between Marin and the peninsula. Save a huge freeway project, underground rail is the most sensible choice, albeit expensive. But, face it. Any major infrastructure project will be expensive. However, the benefits certainly outweigh the costs.

  • If Caltrain were to use inter-urban type of rail cars then there’s really no reason why it cannot be extended from the TTC under Geary and down 19th Ave to connect with BART at Daly City. This type of standard gauge rail can also be extended in a new tube to the East Bay down the road.

  • KJ

    It was about a 20 minute ride from Cole Valley to 4th & King on the N-Judah when I lived in SF.

  • crazyvag

    After demolition of the old Transbay, we should’ve built the tunnels in phase 1 and kept buses at temporary Transbay until phase 2 money is in place. Now, years and billions later, no extra mobility was achieved.

  • crazyvag

    Yea, Jack London is crap for connectivity. Oakland is a trickier beast, but one idea would be to build an tunnel between Emeryville and Coliseum stations with a new station and connection to 12th or 19th street BART. 3.5 miles might be about $5 billion, but would shave a few mins of Capitol Corridor and make it a more viable line for an upgrade.

  • Vooch

    CALexit 2018 keeps looking better and better

  • Oh okay. 400,000 people live within a 20-min ride. Sure. Unless you can back up that claim with some real statistics..
    Oh yeah…that “subway” extension to Chinatown is going to do wonders to cut down on the time it takes to get to Caltrain.
    There aren’t “many” connections to Caltrain in SF. Sorry, but you are completely wrong.

  • But that cool new park is going to open. Wasn’t that worth those billions of dollars?
    DTX has never been a priority and never will be. Now, they can keep pushing it back indefinitely because “it’s really too expensive now” and “too much development along the ROW will drive up costs even more.” It’s all intentional because they really don’t want to see it get built ever.

  • Right, because CA will be able to function on its own…

  • Vooch

    California has a constitution, executive, legislature, judicial, EPA, DOE, Border Patrol, even its own military academy. So it already has all the organization of a independent gov’t.

    Financially California taxpayers pay significantly more to Washington than comes back. CALexit would be a huge financial gain

  • KJ

    Why not try riding the buses/metro yourself and actually time it like I have? I am able to give real times from various neighborhoods because I have actual experience getting to Caltrain from those neighborhoods.

  • Vooch

    BART uses a different gauge track

    someone’s brilliant idea

  • Vooch

    the easiest way to solve the last mile challenge is indeed cycling

    it’s cheap and simple to encourage

    some bike racks and paint gets the ball rolling.

  • zoom314

    California does not have a Border Patrol, in any case California Nationhood is not going to be on the ballot in 2018, since the initiative was withdrawn on: 04/17/17

    California does not have a State Department either, nor a Military, the National Guard can be Federalized by the POTUS.

    I did a search for a California Border Patrol, it says you are either mistaken, or that you don’t know what you are talking about.

    .gov addresses are US government, is California.

    1795. (16-0011A1)
    California Nationhood. Initiative Constitutional Amendment and Statute.
    Summary Date: 01/26/17 | Withdrawn 04/17/17

    Proponent: Marcus Evans

    Repeals provision in California Constitution stating California is an
    inseparable part of the United States and that the United States
    Constitution is the supreme law of the land. Places question of whether
    California should become a separate country on a future ballot. Treats
    result of such future vote as declaration of independence from the
    United States if 50 percent of registered voters participate and 55
    percent of those voting approve. Requires Governor to request California
    admission to the United Nations if voters approve independence. Summary
    of estimate by Legislative Analyst and Director of Finance of fiscal
    impact on state and local government: The fiscal impact of this
    measure is dependent on various factors, including a vote by the people
    on this measure, a subsequent vote on California independence, possible
    legal challenges, and implementation issues. Assuming that California
    actually became an independent nation, the state and its local
    governments would experience major, but unknown, budgetary impacts. This
    measure also would result in tens of millions of dollars of one-time
    state and local election costs. (16-0011.)[/Quote]

  • zoom314

    Phase 2 of HSR was never funded under Prop1a, if that is what you’re talking about.

  • Vooch

    California does have:

    1) A military AND a military academy.

    2) Foreign ‘Trade’ missions which are embassies in all but name

    3) Cross any California border and you will see uniformed CBP ( california border patrol ) as well as border control posts.

  • crazyvag

    I was referring to Transbay Terminal phasing. Currently Transbay phases are:
    Phase 1 – build bus station
    Phase 2 – build train station

    I claim that it should’ve been:
    Phase 1 – build train station
    Phase 2 – build bus station

  • Er, no, those are Customs and Border Patrol from the Federal government, though the State does colocate ag inspectors there too.

  • Vooch


    so like why do they have uniforms that say

    ‘California Border Patrol’ ?

    you do agree that California had its own military academy ?

    it’s own border posts on the AZ-CA border ?


Possible paint schemes for Caltrain's electric trainsets. Image: Caltrain

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