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Caltrain announces fare increases, cuts in service

Agency struggles to close a $2.3 million annual budget gap

Caltrain will fill a large part of a $2.3 million budget deficit with quarters -- in the form of a 25-cent fare increase for each travel zone on the Peninsula, it announced Thursday.

The increase will generate an estimated $1.4 million and push the cost of a one-way ticket between San Francisco and San Jose from $7.75 to $8.50, effective Jan. 1. The last fare increase was in January 2009.

In addition, two northbound and two southbound midday trains will be eliminated, pushing headways between trains to one hour between 9:30 a.m. and 2:30 p.m. The cut is expected to save about $160,000 per year, according to Caltrain.

The Go Pass will increase from $140 to $155. The pass is an employer-sponsored annual pass that offers unlimited rides on Caltrain seven days a week. The increase is expected to make the program nearly revenue-neutral and generate an extra $150,000 a year, Caltrain said in its announcement.

The board also approved closing ticket-sale offices in San Francisco and San Jose, using ticket-vending machines instead, to save an estimated $500,000.

The changes were approved Thursday by the Caltrain board of directors.

Other actions include approval of a three-month pilot project to test effectiveness of express service on weekends. The $107,000 cost will be offset for fuel savings this year.

The board also approved adding a second bicycle car to all trains, rather than just one.

In its continuing struggle to close its annual budget gap, Caltrain has frozen salaries for the past two years and there are 17 furlough days, along with a hiring freeze. It eliminated two executive-level positions and laid off employees.

-- Palo Alto Online staff

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