Palo Alto Weekly

Cover Story - February 11, 2011

'Saving' Caltrain

Business and grassroots groups brainstorm ideas for keeping the passenger rail line afloat

Numerous ideas for funding Caltrain in the near and long terms were proposed at recent events sponsored separately by the Silicon Valley Leadership Group and Friends of Caltrain.

* Use $5.5 million from the Dumbarton Rail Project for temporary, immediate relief for Caltrain. The Dumbarton project has a capital shortfall of several hundred million dollars and further need of operating funds. It is not expected to move forward for years.

* Santa Clara and San Francisco counties owe San Mateo County's SamTrans a combined $16 million for its 1991 purchase of the Caltrain right-of-way from Caltrans. That money could be reimbursed and earmarked for Caltrain.

* Form a regional transportation agency that would merge the transit systems of the three counties and reallocate the money.

* Add a toll on the Dumbarton Bridge specifically to fund Caltrain.

* Add "congestion pricing" — charging higher tolls during peak commute hours.

* Add a high-occupancy toll lane on U.S. Highway 101 with dedicated revenue for Caltrain.

* Ask Silicon Valley businesses to chip in to cover short-term costs.

* Add a value-added fee to new transit-oriented developments.

* Add efficiencies to attract new riders, such as WiFi and, as capital permits, electrification.

* Charge a transit fee on all sports tickets to 49ers, Sharks and Giants games.

* Ask voters to approve a new transit tax (requires 2/3 approval).

Watch the broadcast

On Feb. 13 from 10:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m., the Friends of Caltrain Jan. 29 summit will be broadcast by Midpeninsula Community Media Center on cable channel 27, with additional playbacks at future dates. More information is available at www.midpenmedia.org.

— Sue Dremann

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