The Peninsula Corridor Joint Powers Board (Caltrain) is an independent agency, which is responsible for operations, capital projects and planning for three-county train services on the San Francisco Peninsula.
Caltrain’s three funding partners are the Santa Clara Valley Transportation Authority, the San Mateo County Transit District, and the City and County of San Francisco. A formula based on ridership determines the yearly contribution from each entity, which has totaled approximately $30 million. Caltrain is the only passenger rail service in the country that relies on voluntary annual contributions from its three funding partners, in order to cover its yearly operations costs.
The COVID-19 pandemic has had a significant impact on ridership levels and funding for Caltrain. According to planning documents, Caltrain gets 75% of its operating revenue from passenger fares and parking fees. While ridership levels have increased some as shelter-in-place orders began to relax, it is still well below pre-pandemic levels. As of the end of June, ridership had more than doubled from the lowest point of 1,500 riders per day to 3,200 riders per day. Pre-pandemic, Caltrain’s average weekday ridership was 65,000 passengers.
Due to the reduction in ridership and corresponding loss of revenue, Caltrain announced in May that it is considering a full shutdown if it is not able to secure additional funding. Measure RR was added to the ballot to let voters decide whether Caltrain continues to operate.
Measure RR Proposal
Measure RR will provide reliable funding to cover the shortfall from rider fares, to preserve Caltrain service and support regional economic recovery, prevent traffic congestion, make Caltrain more affordable and accessible, reduce air pollution with cleaner and quieter electric trains, make travel time faster, and increase Caltrain frequency and capacity between Santa Clara, San Mateo and San Francisco counties, with oversight and audits.
Caltrain has developed a Caltrain Modernization (CalMod) Program which outlines various stages of upgrades and modernization that would need to occur in order to maximize the ridership and benefits to the region. These improvements include the electrification of the corridor, the addition of high-performance electric trains, installation of an advanced signal system, and station upgrades to accommodate increased service and more riders. Funding has been secured to complete the first phase of the CalMod program, which includes corridor electrification and conversion of 75% of Caltrain’s fleet to electric trains. Additional funding is needed to fully convert Caltrain’s fleet, operate longer trains, lengthen station platforms and upgrade stations to include “level boarding”, which decreases dwelltime and facilitates the operation of more service.
Source: Voter's Edge Analysis of Measure RR