Faced with a $12.5 million budget deficit for the 2011 fiscal year, Caltrain’s board of directors unanimously voted today to declare a fiscal emergency for the second year in a row.
The fiscal emergency allows the Peninsula Corridor Joint Powers Board to implement changes such as fare increases and reductions in service without meeting the requirements of the California Environmental Quality Act, Caltrain spokeswoman Christine Dunn said.
The act typically requires an evaluation of the potential environmental impacts of changes to public transit service, but the declaration of a fiscal emergency allows agencies to forgo that prerequisite.
Dunn said a number of fare increases and service reductions were suggested at the board meeting today.
Eliminating Gilroy service would save the agency $600,000 a year, and removing weekend service would save $300,000 a year, according to Dunn.
Other potential service reductions include losing four midday trains, which would save $150,000 annually, and eliminating four early morning or late evening trains to save $130,000 annually, Dunn said.
The board will also consider two possible fare increases: a 25 cent base fare increase which would generate $1.4 million annually and a 25 cent zone fare increase to garner $2 million each year, she said.
Service changes would be implemented as early as October, and fare increases would go into effect in January, according to Dunn.
Caltrain officials are “cautiously optimistic” the service reductions and fare increases will help the agency patch together its budget, but are concerned for next year’s budget when the deficit is expected to be even greater.
The main problem, Dunn said, is that Caltrain has no dedicated funding source.
“We go through this process every single year where we try to make ends meet,” Dunn said. “It all goes back to same problem of lack of a dedicated funding source for Caltrain.”
The board of directors will meet again on July 1 to consider the possible service changes and fare increases.