Since the publishing of the last report from 2017, which covered data from the years 2015 and 2016, SamTrans purchased its first zero emissions vehicles and switched all of its facilities to 100% renewable power provided by Peninsula Clean Energy. This has allowed the agency to reduce its greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by 9% over the last two years, its electricity usage by 5% and its generation of criteria air pollutants (CAPs) by 14%. Since 2010, GHGs are down by 18%, fuel consumption is down by 12% and facility electricity use is down 16%.
However, declining ridership in 2017 and 2018 reduced the amount of GHGs displaced by SamTrans by 27% since the 2017 report. While SamTrans’ ridership was growing again earlier this year, the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic has reduced ridership substantially, impacting the agency’s ability to reduce GHG emissions by providing an alternative to single occupancy vehicles.
While Caltrain ridership has been deeply impacted by COVID-19 and the resulted shelter-in-place order, prior to that it had grown steadily over the last decade, displacing thousands of cars that would otherwise be commuting on Highway 101. The rail service is also in the process of electrifying, which will greatly reduce its carbon footprint, and has also transitioned to entirely renewable power sources.
This has reduced the agency’s net GHG emissions by 44% over the last two years, while facility emissions are down 71%. Caltrain has also been able to reduce both its diesel consumption and CAP generation by 7% over the same period. However, with 96% of the energy consumed by Caltrain being the trains themselves, even more dramatic shifts are expected when electrified service launches in 2022.
Over 60% of San Mateo County’s greenhouse gas emissions, and over 40% of California’s, are created by surface transportation.
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.