'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

Sue Dremann

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Like this comment
Posted by commuter
a resident of College Terrace
on Feb 11, 2011 at 5:44 pm

All of these sound like good ideas to me. There are both long term and short term solutions. How do we go forward from here?

Like this comment
Posted by Martin
a resident of Downtown North
on Feb 12, 2011 at 8:01 am

You missed the idea of only running the large locomotive 5-car train sets during peak hours, and a less expensive to operate light rail type car during off-peak.

This would save millions in fuel costs, handle the lighter load, and access the less-used stations.

A couple of these cars could be leased from the incoming Marin County SMART system, and returned when Caltrain can afford their own.

Like this comment
Posted by choo choo
a resident of St. Claire Gardens
on Feb 12, 2011 at 1:36 pm

Add more taxes on top of taxes so that Scanlon and his cohorts can live comfortably. Spend more tax money to create more tax money. Wow! and these are the great ideas put forth by The Silicon Valley Leadership Group and our government officials. Guess there is no wondering why the current system doesn't work. It seems government managers will do anything to keep their non-productive jobs at any cost to taxpayers. Simply amazing!

Sorry, but further commenting on this topic has been closed.

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