Caltrain disputes councils' resolutionBy Will Oremus
A resolution of local city councils calling for more Caltrain service at certain stations has the transit agency's leaders crying foul.
Several cities, including Atherton, Burlingame and Belmont, have passed or are considering a resolution that calls for outside evaluation and more local input on scheduling. Most of the cities eyeing the document are those whose Caltrain stations have seen fewer stops since the agency added the "Baby Bullet" and revamped its schedule in 2004.
But in an e-mail to city managers sent Thursday, Caltrain CEO Mike Scanlon called into question several elements of the resolution.
Scanlon's e-mail praised some of the resolution's general goals. But it went on to challenge several key assertions. One is that "the reduction in Caltrain service at many stations has made it more difficult for many riders to use Caltrain."
"It is noteworthy that ridership is substantially higher on Caltrain ... including within San Mateo County ... than it was before the changes...," Scanlon said.
Scanlon also disputed claims that the service changes have had significant negative impacts on properties located near Caltrain stations and that the Measure A money that cities contribute to Caltrain could otherwise be used for "street repairs, shuttles and many other transportation needs."
Scanlon could not be reached for comment Friday, however, Caltrain spokesman Jonah Weinberg said the agency's main qualm is that the resolution was distributed behind Caltrain's back.
The e-mail also stated, "Should your council elect to consider this matter, we would appreciate the opportunity to provide accurate information to you and your colleagues about Caltrain, ridership, revenue and service."
Weinberg reiterated that Caltrain service is stretched to its limit under the new schedule and that service has mostly been cut in stations with low ridership that are less than a mile away from larger stations with parking available.
Burlingame City Council Member Terry Nagel said the group that drew up the resolution plans to respond publicly to Scanlon's e-mail on Monday.
Belmont City Council Member Bill Dickenson said Caltrain's objections are mostly a matter of interpretation.
Weinberg said Caltrain has no plans to add to its schedule until it overhauls its service with electric trains, a change slated for 2014.
Copyright ©2007 San Mateo County Times. Published 03/10/2007.