Caltrain OKs fare increases, service reductionsBy Staff
In an ongoing effort to close a massive budget gap, the Caltrain Board of Directors approved fare increases and service reductions on Thursday, a spokeswoman said today.
Caltrain, which serves an estimated 38,000 people every weekday, is working to close a $2.3 million budget gap with the elimination of certain routes and increases in fares and pass prices to be implemented at the beginning of next year, spokeswoman Christine Dunn said.
Caltrain also intends to start a trial express weekend service program next year, Dunn said.
All of the changes voted upon on Thursday were discussed at length with community members and Caltrain riders during three community meetings in August and one public hearing in September, Dunn said. About 1,700 comments were submitted at the meetings or via email, mail, or telephone input, she said.
"Most people were in favor of increasing the fare and keeping as much service as possible," Dunn said.
Starting on Jan. 1, it will cost an additional 25 cents per zone to ride Caltrain, Dunn said. The price of fares for travel within the same zone will remain the same, she said. The fare increase is expected to bring in an additional $1.4 million in annual revenue, she said.
The last fare increase to Caltrain tickets was in January 2009, when the prices of all tickets and passes were increased by a flat 25 cents, Dunn said. This increase is larger because the fare increase goes up with each additional zone on the commute.
Caltrain officials expect to save about $160,000 from the elimination of four trains between the hours of 9:30 a.m. and 2:30 p.m. on weekdays, Dunn said. The northbound 237 and 257 trains and southbound 236 and 256 lines will not run during those midday hours beginning Jan. 1, she said.
An additional $600,000 is expected to be saved from the elimination of ticket offices at the San Francisco and San Jose Diridon stations starting Monday, Dunn said. That change leaves just ticket vending machines to serve Caltrain riders paying their fares at those stations.
Amtrak will reassign the seven employees that were filling those ticket offices to new positions, Dunn said.
Also beginning January 1, Caltrain will launch a three-month pilot project that will test the success of express weekend service that commuters have requested, Dunn said. The schedule, which has yet to be determined, will be designed around rider demand, she said.
The pilot project will cost Caltrain about $107,000, Dunn said.
That money will come from savings generated by fuel prices being lower than what Caltrain had budgeted for, Dunn said.
The board also voted to increase the on-board bicycle capacity of many trains, Dunn said. The vote would assure that all trains have two bike cars, which would add one 40-bike gallery car to the trains that currently only have one, she said.
Copyright ©2010 Bay City News. Published 10/08/2010.