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The Green Caltrain blog is sponsored by BayRail Alliance, an all-volunteer non-profit organization supporting green rail transit in the Bay Area. This blog and BayRail have no affiliation with Caltrain.


Transbay board meeting opens options on governance of electrified Caltrain

At Thursday’s Transbay board meeting, Caltrain’s Marian Lee,  Gabriel Metcalf for the SF Mayor’s office, Muni’s Ed Reiskin and other directors opened up a far-reaching conversation about how Caltrain will be governed in the age of electrification and the Downtown Extension to Transbay.  A consultant walked through various options for the DTX project to be built and financed, including a public private partnership, where a private entity would toll riders for the tunnel, and use the revenue to help finance the project and maintain it on an ongoing basis.   Marian Lee then asked the logical question.  If the Downtown Extension tunnel connecting Caltrain to the Transbay Terminal is run by a private company taking a toll for the tunnel, why stop there?  Why wouldn’t you have a single entity operating Caltrain and DTX? Or one entity running High Speed Rail, Caltrain, and DTX.

To explore the far-reaching consequences of these questions, the board agreed that the discussions would need to include the DTX team, Caltrain, the High Speed Rail Authority, the Metropolitan Transportation Commission, and eventually the rest of 9 regional partners that are contributing funding for Caltrain modernization and the blended system with High Speed Rail.   Board discussions about the structure to complete DTX are expected to continue over the next several months.

Adding Caltrain’s operations to the picture, in the age of electrification and connection to downtown San Francisco – with lower operating costs and major increase in ridership – would make a very different business proposition for a private operator than taking a $1.25 toll to maintain a short segment of tunnel.    How would this work for transit riders, and for the public agency owners of the infrastructure?  What if a High Speed Rail operator ran Caltrain?  Are there good examples of organizations competently running long-distance train service as well as local commuter and utility transit?   How does putting these options on the table affect the funding of DTX – and potential alternative plans for funding electrification, if High Speed Rail’s roadblocks aren’t cleared up soon?

This is a big deal – agencies, riders, and others who depend on Caltrain will have important choices to understand and evaluate, that will shape how the rail corridor will modernize, how these major projects will be funded, and rail service will work for customers for many years to come.

 

 


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    • September 3, 2014

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      Location: 1250 San Carlos Ave., San Carlos, CA

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      Caltrain JPB meeting

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      Location: Location: 2nd Floor Auditorium San Mateo County Transit District 1250 San Carlos Avenue, San Carlos

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      Location: City Hall, Room 416, 1 Dr. Carlton B. Goodlett Place, San Francisco, CA 94102

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      Caltrain CAC meeting

      Starts: 5:30 pm

      Location: Location: 2nd Floor Auditorium San Mateo County Transit District 1250 San Carlos Avenue, San Carlos

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      Description: Bicycle Advisory Committee

    • October 1, 2014

      SamTrans Board meeting

      Starts: 2:00 pm

      Location: 1250 San Carlos Ave., San Carlos, CA

    • October 2, 2014

      Caltrain JPB meeting

      Starts: 10:00 am

      Location: Location: 2nd Floor Auditorium San Mateo County Transit District 1250 San Carlos Avenue, San Carlos

    • October 9, 2014

      TJPA Board Meeting

      Starts: 9:30 am

      Location: City Hall, Room 416, 1 Dr. Carlton B. Goodlett Place, San Francisco, CA 94102

    • October 14, 2014

      TJPA CAC Meeting

      Starts: 5:30 pm

      Location: 201 Mission Street, Suite 2100 San Francisco, CA