Nearly two-thirds of voters in the three counties Caltrain serves would support creating new investment from local sales tax to expand rail service, according to a recent public opinion poll commissioned by the agency.
The poll was conducted as Caltrain considers options for a dedicated revenue source, something the agency lacks when compared to other public transit systems in the Bay Area. The Caltrain Board of Directors reviewed the results at their May 2 meeting.
Approving dedicated investment in Caltrain from local sales tax is being considered thanks to legislation passed by State Senator Jerry Hill. The legislation allows the Caltrain Board to place a measure on the ballot in all three counties, provided that the transportation agency and board of supervisors in each county concurs. The measure would then require approval from two-thirds of residents that vote in the three counties.
If approved, the measure would provide stable, dedicated funding to operate and maintain the service, and to invest in infrastructure that will be needed to expand service in all three counties. With peak hour trains that are well over 100% capacity, Caltrain will need to offer more service to meet current and projected demand. The ability to operate expanded service is made possible by the Caltrain Electrification project, which is currently under construction. The Caltrain Business Plan is evaluating what infrastructure will be needed to operate the system’s new electric trains and what service levels will be needed to meet ridership demand that is expected to increase by 300% over the next 20 years.
The poll identifies voters’ top reasons for supporting a potential measure, with easing highway traffic congestion, reducing air pollution, and improving Caltrain frequency and capacity topping the list.
The poll was conducted in late March by EMC Research.
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. While the Joint Powers Board assumed operating responsibilities for the service in 1992, the railroad has provided the community with more than 150 years of continuous passenger service. Planning for the next 150 years of Peninsula rail service, Caltrain is on pace to electrify the corridor, reduce diesel emissions by 97 percent by 2040 and add more service to more stations.
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