4:40 PM: Caltrain’s board of directors this morning voted not to pursue station closures and to maintain its 86-train weekday schedule for another year.
At a special meeting in San Carlos, the Peninsula Corridor Joint Powers Board of Directors voted 5-3 to adopt a resolution that would close Caltrain’s operating budget deficit for fiscal year 2012 with $3.5 million in one-time funds.
The money will come from moving a portion of Caltrain’s capital funds–which are used for train track improvements, locomotive maintenance, and new equipment purchases–to Caltrain’s operating budget, which allows the transit agency to run at its current level of service for another year.
The swapping of funds can only be carried out with the approval of the Metropolitan Transportation Commission–the agency that distributes federal dollars to Caltrain and its transit partners–the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency, the San Mateo County Transit District and the Santa Clara Valley Transportation Authority, Caltrain spokeswoman Christine Dunne said.
Two weeks ago, the Caltrain board had been prepared to adopt a resolution reducing daily weekday service from 86 to 76 trains, temporarily suspending service at the Capitol, Hayward Park and Bayshore stations, increasing the base fare by 25 cents, increasing parking fees in Caltrain lots from $3 to $4, and eliminating weekend train service at 11 stations.
The board postponed any action after an overwhelming number of Caltrain riders appealed to the board in emails and during public comment to try to avoid any station closures or cuts in service.
The resolution adopted today goes ahead with increasing ticket fares by 25 cents and raising parking fees – which, added together, are expected to contribute $2.5 million to Caltrain’s budget–and it ensures that service cuts will be averted for another year.
The fee increases will take effect July 1.
Director Adrienne Tissier, who made the motion to adopt today’s resolution, requested that language be added to the board’s action urging Caltrain officials to use their “best effort” in negotiations with the MTC to secure one-time funding for fiscal year 2013 in addition to the $3.5 million being sought to balance the budget for 2012.
Over the next two years, the board hopes to establish a permanent funding source for Caltrain, such as a voter-approved tax.
Tissier appealed to the public to continue their efforts to make Caltrain a sustainable transportation system for the long term.
“I want people to recognize that there are not going to be pots of money at the end of the rainbow in two years,” she said.
Director Liz Kniss asked the public not to go away now that Caltrain’s level of service has been secured for the short term.
“You need this train and the Peninsula needs this train to continue to function properly,” she said.
Director Omar Ahmad led the vote against the resolution, calling the budget maneuvering to maintain Caltrain’s current service levels “unsustainable.”
“At this point, what we have is a scheme, not a solution,” he said.
Chris Cooney, Bay City News
12:05 PM: Caltrain’s board of directors this morning voted not to pursue station closures and to maintain its current train schedule through fiscal year 2012.
The board did vote to raise fares and parking fees, however.
In a 5-3 vote in San Carlos, the Peninsula Corridor Joint Powers Board adopted a resolution that would impose a 25-cent increase on the base fare and a $1 increase in daily parking fees at Caltrain lots.
Chris Cooney, Bay City News