Fare hikes, service cuts for CaltrainBy Bill Silverfarb
Caltrain will cut four weekday trains, eliminate station agents and increase zone fares by 25 cents, if the Peninsula Corridor Joint Powers Board approves the changes at a meeting this morning.
To bridge a $2.3 million deficit, the board will also likely increase the price for employer subsidized Go Passes. The base fare, however, will not increase.
Eliminating station agents will save Caltrain about $600,000 this year while increasing the zone fare is expected to increase revenue by an additional $1.4 million. The zone fare increase for a one-way ticket from San Francisco to San Jose will boost the fare from $7.75 to $8.50, for instance.
The transit agency's overall fiscal year 2010-11 budget, approved in July, is about $100.9 million but is projected to drop by $30 million in the next budget cycle as contributions from SamTrans, Santa Clara County's Valley Transportation Agency and the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency are expected to be slashed by half next year as those agencies struggle with their own deficits.
Caltrain also canceled its annual holiday train this year.
Administrative cost has increased roughly 14 percent in three years, despite salaries being frozen, said spokeswoman Christine Dunn.
The San Mateo County Transit District is the umbrella agency for SamTrans bus service, including Redi-Wheels paratransit service, Caltrain commuter rail and the San Mateo County Transportation Authority.
Administrators bill the authority, SamTrans and Caltrain separately, depending on what type of work is being done, Dunn said.
Caltrain eliminated merit increases in 2008 and mandated 17 furlough days over a three-year period at the same time, Dunn said. There were no raises given in 2009 or 2010, she said.
"It is true line-item wages went up for Caltrain," Dunn said. "It is because administrators divided their time differently between the agencies. Some administrators charged more hours to Caltrain and less to SamTrans and the transportation authority."
The total number of hours billed to Caltrain rose 9 percent in the past three years, Dunn said.
Wage and benefits for administrators at Caltrain is $6.5 million, or 6.5 percent of the overall operating budget.
Chief Executive Officer Michael Scanlon's compensation is $323,642.92 and includes his base salary, pay for vacation, holiday and floating days off. Not included in the total is an annual housing allowance of $24,000 and $24,765 in compensation for the sale back to the district of unused time off earned by Scanlon, according to Dunn.
Caltrain lacks a dedicated funding stream and relies on contributions from the three county transit agencies for survival.
The four weekday trains nixed from the schedule are trains 236 and 237, which depart around 9:30 a.m. in the north and south directions and trains 256 and 257, which depart around 2:30 p.m. in the north and south directions.
The Peninsula Corridor Joint Powers Board meets 10 a.m., today, Bacciocco Auditorium, second floor, 1250 San Carlos Ave., San Carlos.
Copyright ©2010 San Mateo Daily Journal. Published 10/07/2010.