President Obama asks Congress for $125M for Caltrain electrification

Funds would come through Federal Transit Administration's Capital Investment Grant Program

President Barack Obama has asked Congress for $125 million in the fiscal 2017 budget for the electrification of Caltrain, U.S. Department of Transportation officials announced Wednesday.

U.S. Secretary of Transportation Anthony Foxx said in a statement that projects like Caltrain's electrification "transform communities" by "improving mobility and access to jobs, education, and other important opportunities for millions of residents."

The money would come through the Federal Transit Administration's Capital Investment Grant Program.

If Caltrain receives the money, it "will have a sizeable impact" on the $430 million still needed to pay for electrification, Caltrain spokeswoman Jayme Ackemann said.

Caltrain will also get $73 million that had been allocated in previous years, leaving a deficit of $232 million, Ackemann said.

Last year, the Bay Area Air Quality Management District allocated $20 million to the project, saying it will substantially improve air quality for residents of the Peninsula train corridor.

Electrification is part of a larger Caltrain modernization program that will replace the diesel system with a more modern electric system, according to the Department of Transportation. The project will replace both train cars and infrastructure.

Electrification will allow Caltrain to increase the number of passengers it carries and improve service, Department of Transportation officials said.

A report by the air quality district said Caltrain will be able to run 114 cars per day rather than 92 and reduce emissions by up to 97 percent by 2040.

Besides the funding hurdle, the project is also facing a legal challenge. The town of Atherton and two advocacy groups filed a lawsuit claiming that the environmental impact report for the project was inadequate.

The plaintiffs said the report didn't adequately address the impacts of traffic, station configuration, electricity demand and tree removal.

Ackemann said the lawsuit is in mediation.

Caltrain's ridership was at 58,200 boardings a day in November, according to the Federal Transit Administration. With the new system, boardings may exceed 100,000 per day by 2040.

The total cost of the project is $1.76 billion, FTA officials said.

Related content:

City of Palo Alto opts not to sue Caltrain

Report: Caltrain 'modernization' to worsen Alma congestion

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13 people like this
Posted by resident
a resident of Midtown
on Feb 10, 2016 at 5:35 pm

Thank you Mr President. Palo Alto badly needs improved public transit and Caltrain is the most practical public transit in town.

4 people like this
Posted by Liberty
a resident of University South
on Feb 10, 2016 at 8:45 pm

Thanks Mr. President. Us Poor poor souls in Silicon Valley need you to take money from the rest of the country and give it to us to help our highly paid engineers get to work more conveniently. Thank you for being so compassionate.

7 people like this
Posted by Robert
a resident of another community
on Feb 10, 2016 at 9:06 pm

[Post removed.]

12 people like this
Posted by Alphonso
a resident of Los Altos Hills
on Feb 11, 2016 at 9:39 am

Alphonso is a registered user.

Liberty - considering that the Federal Government is a Net Taker from the Silicon Valley it is nice to see efforts to bring some of that money back. The "rest of country" is not giving us anything since the money came from here in the first place.

1 person likes this
Posted by Follow-The-Money
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Feb 11, 2016 at 11:07 am

Claims that the Federal Government is a “net taker” from the Silicon Valley are not exactly true—

Silicon Valley Companies Get Millions in Stimulus Funds:
Web Link

The government has handed out more than $840 billion in federal stimulus money since 2009. More than $33 billion went to California. It is cash meant to save jobs, kick start the economy and keep small businesses and organizations afloat through tough economic times.

Seventeen of the largest and most recognized companies in Silicon Valley—nearly all of which are flush with cash—were awarded at least a total of $94 million in stimulus money as either prime recipients or sub-recipients.

Government Support Actually Integral to Silicon Valley’s Development:
Web Link

As a 1992 Congressional Office of Technology Assessment report, After the Cold War: Living with Lower Defense Spending, pointed out, the U.S. county with the highest per-worker amount of defense contract dollars was Santa Clara county (i.e. Silicon Valley). As early as the 1950s, driven by the Cold War and the space race, Department of Defense demands for ever-faster integrated circuits (microprocessors) and computing capacity were instrumental in providing funding for firms such as Fairchild Semiconductor and Intel that literally gave the term “Silicon Valley” its start. The Internet emerged from the Defense Department’s Advanced Research Projects Agency (ARPA).

During the 1960s and 1970s, it was generally believed that about 25% of the booked revenue of Santa Clara County companies came from Federal “black budget”.

All of this Federal money built technology that either defended the country, or eventually became productized and helped to increase the use of technology by all of us as well as increasing the revenues of the companies offering these products.

Electrifying Caltrain is an utter waste of money!

Like this comment
Posted by musical
a resident of Palo Verde
on Feb 11, 2016 at 12:17 pm

>> The total cost of the project is $1.76 billion

What's that, 12,000 man-years??

Like this comment
Posted by Kevin Ohlson
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Feb 11, 2016 at 3:30 pm

@Alphonso is right - California is a "giver" state.
Web Link

2 people like this
Posted by George
a resident of College Terrace
on Feb 11, 2016 at 9:09 pm

I am happy that California is a "giver" state, also known in Trump terms as a "winner". I am pleased that we are doing so well economically, and I am happy to spread the fruits of our success to other states that are not doing so well. There may come a time when the roles are reversed. That is one of the reasons we form together as a union.

I am pleased to see the federal budget request for $125 million for Caltrain. That is only a fraction of what is needed to expand this very popular and overloaded system, and only the cost of a couple of freeway interchanges. It sounds like a very intelligent choice to me.

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

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