Broke Caltrain Moves to Cut Half its Service

Categories: Public Transit
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You likely soon won't see one of these during non-commuter hours
Whenever your CEO prefaces his message to the board with "This is not an April Fools' joke," you're in for some bad news. And bad news is what Caltrain boss Mike Scanlon delivered yesterday: "There's a possibility this railroad could go away" and, just for starters, Caltrain needs to cut some $30 million from its $97 million budget. This will likely be accomplished in part by slashing night, midday, and weekend trains.

Those cuts, which must be enacted by June of next year -- but could come as soon as the fall -- would leave in the lurch an average of 18,211 weekend riders, 5,718 midday riders and 2,082 nighttime riders, according to the agency. Cuts to regular commuter service -- which is more profitable -- are not imminent at the moment. Emphasis on "at the moment." Scanlon noted Caltrain could limit the pain to the aforementioned massive cuts "only if we're lucky.

Like all local transit agencies, Caltrain has taken it on the chin of late from the state. Over the last three years, $30 million in state funding has been whisked away. But Caltrains is about to get dumped upon locally, too.

Locally, the Santa Clara Valley Transportation Authority (SamTrans), the Santa Clara Valley Transportation Authority (VTA) and Muni also subsidize Caltrain, to the tune of $39.4 million annually. But Scanlon -- who is also SamTrans' CEO -- announced he will move for that agency to cut its Caltrains contribution by 70 percent. If that comes to pass, VTA and Muni would also make 70 percent cuts, leaving Caltrain out a total of $28 million.

"We're rapidly approaching a cliff," Scanlon lamented. "It's going to be very, very painful. It's probably going to force people back to congested freeways. People aren't going to be able to get to jobs; they're not going to have basic mobility."

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