Caltrain Releases First Sustainability Report

Caltrain Releases First Sustainability Report


For the first time in its 153-year history, Caltrain is releasing a Sustainability Report that summarizes and highlights Caltrain’s sustainability achievements between Fiscal Year 2010 and Fiscal Year 2016.

Serving more than 65,000 riders each day along the San Francisco Peninsula Corridor, Caltrain is committed to supporting a more sustainable region by providing affordable, accessible, environmentally-friendly mobility options to move people where they live, work, and play. Sustainability is a key component of Caltrain’s vision to provide a safe, reliable, sustainable modern rail system that meets the growing mobility needs of the San Francisco Bay region. 

For the past several years, Caltrain has experienced unprecedented ridership growth.  Ridership increased 73 percent between FY2010 and FY2016.  This has helped keep vehicles off of the road and reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions in the Bay Area.  In FY2016, the average Caltrain passenger helped eliminate 3.2 pounds of GHG emissions with each train trip.

Despite the significant increase in ridership between FY2010 and FY2016, Caltrain’s generated GHG emissions and criteria air pollutants, overall facility and vehicle energy use, and waste generation only increased between 6 percent and 34 percent during this time.  As a result of increased operational efficiencies combined with higher train occupancy rates, Caltrain has significantly reduced its emissions, energy use and water use per passenger. 

Ongoing initiatives to exemplify our environmental leadership and fulfill Caltrain’s Vision and Strategic Plan include:

Vehicle Energy: The Peninsula Corridor Electrification Project will convert Caltrain’s diesel operations to an electric system starting in 2021. This modernization effort will provide Peninsula communities with faster, more reliable, more frequent, and more sustainable service. When complete, electrification of the corridor and the introduction of new, high performance trains will increase the capacity of the current system by nearly 50 percent, and as a result will reduce vehicle miles traveled by 619,000 miles every day. Electrification will reduce system noise and contribute to improved regional air quality. The improved system will reduce criteria air pollutant emissions by up to 97 percent, and will eliminate over 176,000 metric tons of GHG along the corridor each year. This is equivalent to the annual emissions from 40,000 passenger vehicles.

Facility Energy: As of this summer, Caltrain’s electricity is 65 percent renewable and 79 percent GHG emission-free. On March 2, 2017, the Caltrain Board of Directors voted to expand the agency's use of renewable electricity by partnering with three Community Choice Energy Programs: Peninsula Clean Energy, Silicon Valley Clean Energy, and CleanPowerSF.  These providers will supply 100 percent renewable power from sources such as solar, wind, and small hydroelectric.  In addition, Caltrain has initiated a light-emitting diode (LED) lighting upgrade project at the San Carlos Caltrain station that will save energy while reducing operational and maintenance costs. The LEDs are approximately 80 percent more efficient than the high-intensity discharge lights they will replace, and require less maintenance. 

Water: In response to California’s historic drought, Caltrain implemented a number of water-saving conservation measures including: reducing landscape irrigation; installing high-efficiency faucet aerators and showerheads in customer and staff restrooms; promptly fixing leaks; and providing water-saving tips through restroom and kitchen signage. Caltrain also conserves water at stations by using “smart” irrigation controllers that adjust watering schedules based on local temperature and rainfall. In addition, Caltrain also uses drought-tolerant vegetation in new plantings wherever possible, and covers plant beds with mulch to reduce evaporation of water. Caltrain continues to employ these conservation measures in its daily operations and maintenance practices.

Waste & Recycling: Caltrain’s recycling program strives to make it easy for customers to properly dispose of their waste. At the San Francisco station, Caltrain has triple-stream bins designated for recyclables, compostables, and trash (landfill). Bins are placed throughout the station and are clearly labeled. At all other Caltrain stations, Caltrain has developed a partnership with its janitorial service and waste management contractor to sort offsite. This allows customers to place their recyclables, food and trash in the same bin. The contents are transported by Republic Services to Newby Island Resource Recovery Park. Machinery and trained staff sort all the contents which has helped that facility achieve diversion rates of 70 percent.

As the managing agency of Caltrain, the San Mateo County Transit District’s sustainability policies and practices extend to the facilities and employees that support the management of Caltrain’s service. The District (and through it, Caltrain) is also a strong supporter of the American Public Transportation Association’s (APTA) Sustainability Program and participates in the annual Sustainability & Public Transportation Workshop as well as APTA’s Sustainability committees.

For more details about the Caltrain Sustainability Program, visit



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 more than five years of consecutive monthly ridership increases, surpassing more than 65,000 average weekday riders. While the Joint Powers Board assumed operating responsibilities for the service in 1992, the railroad will celebrate 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 corridor by 2019, reducing diesel emissions by 84 percent and adding more service to more stations. 


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Media Contact: Tasha Bartholomew, 650.508.7927