At a public hearing, held during its monthly meeting in March, the Caltrain Board of Directors approved a new timetable that will reduce weekend service for upcoming capital improvement projects, including the Peninsula Corridor Electrification Project (PCEP).
The Board voted unanimously to change local service headways from 60 to 90 minutes with Baby Bullet service to support construction work windows that will reduce the number of trains running on Saturdays from 36 to 28 and on Sundays from 32 to 24. The four weekend Baby Bullet Trains will be maintained. The weekend changes are anticipated to take place this summer and are estimated to last approximately three years.
The timetable changes will help facilitate electrification without requiring more drastic options such as termination of all weekend Caltrain service. The changes also will support Caltrain’s entire capital improvement program, which includes the Los Gatos Creek Bridge Replacement Project, the South San Francisco Station Improvement Project and the 25th Avenue Grade Separation Project.
Because this is considered a major service change according to Caltrain Title VI policies and compliance program, which is regulated by the Federal Transit Administration (FTA), Caltrain was required to conduct a Title VI Equity Analysis. The report summary and its findings were also presented during the public hearing, which showed no disparate impact and no disproportionate burden for riders. In addition, Caltrain conducted extensive public outreach that included community meetings, station outreaches, and traditional and social media. More than 140 weekend comments were received in person, by email, by phone or via the Caltrain website.
In response to public feedback, Caltrain noted short-term impacts will bring long-term benefits, a commitment to continue providing special event service, operating six-car train sets on weekends to address capacity, and promoting alternative transportation options, such as BART, SamTrans, VTA.
In recent weeks, federal funding challenges have surfaced for the Electrification Project. On Monday, February 27, Caltrain announced that it had negotiated an extension of the deadline for contractors to begin construction of the project while the agency awaits a decision from the FTA about the execution of a $647 million funding agreement. The contractors agreed to extend the deadline for four months, from March 1 to June 30.
In February, the FTA announced that execution of the Full Funding Grant Agreement (FFGA) would be delayed until the President makes decisions about the availability of funds in the Administration’s upcoming budget proposal to Congress. The extension is needed to preserve the Electrification Project’s contracts during this time.
Final implementation plans for the weekend schedule change are contingent on the execution of the FFGA that will trigger the full notice to proceed with construction for the Electrification Project.
Weekday service changes to accommodate construction activities for the various capital improvement projects will become effective on Monday, April 10. Caltrain’s new weekday timetable is posted online at www.caltrain.com/timetable. Printed timetables will be available onboard trains and at stations by the end of March.
About Caltrain: Owned and operated by the Peninsula Corridor Joint Powers Board, Caltrain provides commuter rail service from San Francisco to San Jose, with limited commute service to Gilroy. Caltrain enjoyed five years of consecutive monthly ridership increases, surpassing more than 60,000 average weekday riders. While the Joint Powers Board assumed operating responsibilities for the service in 1992, the railroad celebrated 150 years of continuous passenger service in 2014. Planning for the next 150 years of Peninsula rail service, Caltrain is on pace to electrify the system, reduce diesel emissions by 97 percent by 2040 and add more service to more stations.
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