The Caltrain Board of Directors voted to close its Atherton station at its November meeting.
Prior to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, the Atherton Caltrain Station only received limited weekend-only service every 90 minutes with an average of 114 passengers per weekend day. Weekday service to the station was cut in 2005 due to low demand.
The antiquated platform configuration of the station does not meet current standards and has limited Caltrain’s operations, as trains traveling in one direction are required to wait while the train operating in the opposing direction is boarding at the station. Removing the station will improve reliability and flexibility, improving travel time through the area by as much as three minutes, which would mean the closure would save 93 million travel hours over the next 20 years. If kept in operation, the station would ultimately require an approximately $30 million upgrade to meet modern standards and prevent disruption of the expanded service that will come following the electrification of the corridor.
The closure of the station will also allow Caltrain to reallocate service to nearby stations such as Menlo Park and Redwood City, which have much higher rates of existing ridership and where denser land uses are projected to generate higher levels of demand for future rail service. Caltrain estimates the closure could bring over 1.3 million riders by 2040.
In November, the Town of Atherton endorsed the closure of Atherton station subject to an Agreement on a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) between the two parties. The station’s closure will reduce noise and increase safety for Atherton residents. Atherton is redeveloping its Civic Center, and closing the station could potentially help integrate station property (outside of the operating right-of-way) into the Civic Center redevelopment.
About Caltrain: Owned and operated by the Peninsula Corridor Joint Powers Board, Caltrain provides commuter rail service from San Francisco to San Jose, with 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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