Facebook in talks with Caltrain to fund million dollar Dumbarton West Bay corridor study

Facebook is in talks with Caltrain to contribute $1Million to planning for transit on the Dumbarton Corridor West Bay segment, all options “from bus to rail to gondolas,”* according to Mark Simon presenting at today’s Caltrain board meeting.  Simon said that the evaluation would be for transit open to the public (so this isn’t being contemplated only for private Facebook buses/trains).    An agreement would be brought to the Caltrain board for approval.

The study would also revisit the prospect of the Bay Crossing, which had been put on ice with the shifting of regional funds to BART San Jose, and lack of support from Alameda County. There recently has been substantial interest in the San Mateo County communities, including East Palo Alto, Menlo Park, North Fair Oaks, and Redwood City.

Such a project would connect the rapidly growing areas in Downtown Redwood City with Facebook and planned residential and office growth in Menlo Park near Facebook – for example, Redwood City’s new apartment buildings are being marketed to Facebook employees.   And it would provide a short, 6-mile spur connection for commuters coming out to Facebook from San Francisco and other northern stops on the Caltrain line.

While the Dumbarton crossing project isn’t currently on the region’s master list for publicly fundable projects, which gets updated every 4 years, Seamus Murphy, Caltrain’s head of communications and public affairs, explained that the list can be amended during the 4 year period if a project has local and regional support.   The Metropolitan Transportation Commission is considering another round of bridge-toll funded projects, potentially for voter approval in 2018 – this could be a relevant timeline if public funding is needed to contribute to construction.

Thanks to Facebook and everyone in the West Bay communities who have been working to keep interest alive in the reviving the Dumbarton corridor for transit.

(The audience laughed at the mention of “gondolas” – since the Dumbarton corridor has dedicated right of way that’s not in conflict with surface road use – there doesn’t seem to be a logical reason for the elevated “podcar” systems that are touted for last-mile connections in areas with constrained rights of way.)

Dumbarton Rail line crossing Middlefield Rd in North Fair Oaks

Dumbarton Rail line crossing Middlefield Rd in North Fair Oaks