Are Caltrain’s budget problems a snapshot of CA HSR?



HSRA and high speed rail advocates fail to be realistic in their quest to ride the rails on the backs of other taxpayers. I’ve made our points on the flaws of CA HSR enough times that there is no need to repeat the same message.

Here we have an established passenger rail system, serving the SF Peninsula for over 150 years, struggling to find funds to maintain their operations. Having a former corporate HQ in Santa Clara I am familiar with Caltrain and its train service from Gilroy and San Jose to Palo Alto and SF.  The Mercury News just published the following current bad news.


Plan to save Caltrain to be set forth Thursday

By Janis Mara

“Caltrain confirmed Tuesday that its board of directors will vote on a plan to keep all 86 of its trains rolling and all of its stations open for at least another year.

The board is scheduled to consider the plan at a meeting Thursday in San Carlos. The details of how the agency will fill a remaining $3.5 million budget gap are still being worked out, according to a staff report made public Tuesday.

“Funds to fill the $3.5 million shortfall have been tentatively identified but are subject to positive ongoing discussions between the (Caltrain) partner agencies and the Metropolitan Transportation Commission,” the report notes.

Board members provided hints Monday as to the source of the additional money for the 2012 fiscal year. San Francisco Supervisor Sean Elsbernd, who is chairman of the board, said the plan involves borrowing money for capital expenses, borrowing from the 2013 fiscal year and deferred maintenance. The plan also includes 25-cent fare hikes and $1-per-day parking increases.

A spokesman for the MTC declined to say how much money the commission will provide to close the budget shortfall. “We are in conversation with (the Caltrain board) about putting additional money on the table,” the spokesman, Randy Rentschler, said.

“We’re in it for two years, not for one,” Rentschler added, referring to the fact that board member and San Mateo County Supervisor Adrienne Tissier, who is leading the effort to find the money, has said she wants to keep the system as it is for two years while seeking support for a new funding source, possibly a tax.”


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