Thursday: Caltrain board considers another fare increase

On Thursday, the Caltrain board is considering a second fare increase, just one year after the last increase. The proposal includes an increase to individual fares and parking prices, and a substantial increase to deep-discount corporate GoPass prices (see below and this staff report for details).  But Caltrain hasn’t released any information from their fare study, which is not coming out until later in the year.   

Caltrain-Ticket-Vending-Machine (1)

Last year, the Caltrain board set a direction to raise fares incrementally, and to increase fares every two years. The board also directed staff to conduct a comprehensive fare study, looking at issues including equity, the relationship between fares and ridership, and the structure of the GoPass bulk-discount program, which gives much better prices for full-time employees of major corporations than to service workers in Caltrain downtowns and job centers.

At the time of the last fare increase a year ago, there was significant rider pushback against setting a fare increase that was not based on data, and that did not consider issues of equity and the GoPass structure.  In the last year, Caltrain has seen modest ridership decreases, and some have hypothesized that the fare increase may have contributed to lower ridership.

The rationale to do a second, early fare increase before the release of the study is that VTA is having budget issues which will result in decreased contribution, and Caltrain will need to draw on reserves to balance its budget.

What do you think about Caltrain’s proposal to raise prices a year early, without data from the fare study and discussion on the substantive issues the board wanted discussed. The decision to increase GoPass prices is probably reasonable, but what is the rationale for the pricing level?  Shouldn’t transportation management associations be able to provide GoPass fares to groups of restaurants and retailers? If you’re concerned, send a note to board@caltrain.com, and send us a copy at friends@friendsofcaltrain.com

Or come if you can to the board meeting, 10am on Thursday, 1250 San Carlos Ave in San Carlos near the train station.

Proposed fare changes to be considered at the board meeting
  • Increasing Go-Pass fares by 50 percent
  • Pricing monthly passes at the equivalent of 15 days per month, rather than 13 per days per month
  • Eliminating the discounted 8-Ride ticket
  • Pricing monthly parking fees at the equivalent of 15 days/month, rather than 10 days per month
  • Increasing the Zone fare by $0.25
  • Implementing a pilot program to provide discounts for weekend and evening riders