Frequently Asked Questions

How was the increase level determined? What analysis was done to determine these are the correct fares to increase?

Fare increases have recently alternated between increases to the base fare and the zone fare on a two year cycle. In Fiscal Year (FY) 2017, the system will receive lower than expected member agency contributions. These lower contributions are expected to continue into FY19. The fare changes are being proposed four months early, and additional fare changes are being proposed to offset a $17.8 million difference between revenues and expenses. Maintaining operations without a fare increase would quickly exhaust Caltrain’s limited reserves. 

Have you projected what decrease in ridership might occur due to these fare increases?

We have taken a number of elasticity and revenue factors into account to strike a balance between fare increases and continued ridership success. A full elasticity analysis is a part of the Caltrain comprehensive Fare Study, which is underway and will be complete in early 2018.

Why can’t Caltrain use reserves instead to fund operational costs?

Reserves represent a one-time solution and Caltrain’s limited reserves will quickly be exhausted unless additional revenues are secured. Even with the proposed fare increase, Caltrain will need to use a significant amount of reserves to maintain current service levels to the community. Current reserves will not support a long term strategy to fund operations, state of good repair and capital needs. The Board is considering a reserve policy to ensure funds are available to support unanticipated needs in the future.  

If Caltrain doesn’t raise fares, how would that affect service?

The effects to service have not been analyzed but due to the structure of Caltrain’s operational contracts achieving the necessary savings would require significant cuts in service.  When faced with a similar situation in 2011, Caltrain considered reducing weekday service from 96 trains to 48 trains.

Why can’t Caltrain wait for the fare study to be complete before proposing an increase?

Without increased member agency contributions, maintaining operations in FY18 requires early implementation of the fare increase. Some preliminary work was done to inform the recommendations around the price of our discounted fare products, but the fare study will be utilized to both inform Caltrain on current pricing and also look at future structural changes to create a simpler and more equitable fare program. These recommendations will not be complete in time to address Caltrain’s immediate financial challenges in FY18.

What is being done to make sure Caltrain doesn’t become cost prohibitive for lower income riders?

A Title VI review will be provided to the Board along with customer input and staff recommendations. Caltrain’s Comprehensive Fare Study will recommend actions to ensure that Caltrain offers an equitable fare program.

If the fare study is done at the end of the year does that mean you will be changing fares again next year?

Not necessarily. The fare study is not just looking at pricing models that would be beneficial to supporting current service levels and ongoing operational costs to Caltrain. It is also looking at structural changes to all fares that would continue to maximize ridership and aid in congestion mitigation for our community. The fare study will present options about how the fare structure could be changed but doesn’t mean it will change. Caltrain will assess the fare study recommendations and engage our communities in a robust conversation to ensure any changes meet both community and Caltrain goals.  

When will the changes take effect?

The proposed fare changes will take effect on October 1, 2017 and January 1, 2018.

How can I provide my comments?

Customers are encouraged to take an online survey or download the questionnaire HERE. Printed surveys can be mailed to JPB Secretary, P.O. Box 3006, San Carlos, CA 94070-1306 or e-mailed to changes@caltrain.com. Customers also can call 1.800.660.4287. Comments will be accepted until July 19, 2017.

When will the Board approve the final FY 2018 Fare Changes?
After collecting and reviewing the public comments, staff will provide the final fare change recommendations to the JPB Board for approval at the Aug. 3, 2017 meeting.

What are some of the proposed changes?

• Increasing Go Pass fares by 50 percent, from $190 per person to $285 or minimum cost to employers from $15,960 to $23,940.

• Pricing monthly parking fees at the equivalent of 15 days per month, rather than 13 days per month, from $55 to $82.50.Eliminating the discounted 8-ride Ticket.

• Basing Monthly Pass prices on 15 days per month, rather than 13 days per month (refer to fare table regarding options)

• Increasing the Zone fare by 25 cents, adult zone upgrade increases from $2 to $2.25. Eligible Discount zone upgrade remains at $1.

• Implementing a pilot program to provide discounts for weekend and evening riders, ticket machines and Clipper users will receive a discount compared to regular fares

• Eliminating the discounted 8-ride Ticket.

7/6/17 - rjc