Caltrain breaks ridership records but plans for a fare increase

Caltrain weekday ridership in the month of May was over 41,000, In June, the ridership exceeded 44,000. An increase of 12.2 and 16.6 percent increase respectively from the same months last year. The popularity of the Baby Bullet service along with high gasoline prices help drive the ridership increase, despite the fact that Caltrain has fewer vehicles in service due to the faulty rail cars.

It is an amazing feat for Caltrain to break the 40,000 weekday ridership barrier especially considering that Caltrain still runs on diesel. As auto drivers are facing high gasoline prices, so does Caltrain too. Caltrain is proposing a fare increase to be approved by the Joint Powers Board (the people who governs Caltrain) that will take effect in January. That fare increase will either involve a 25 cent increase on the base one way fare, or a 25 cent increase per zone on the one way fare. Increases for 10-ride and monthly pass will be adjusted by the same rate accordingly.

Also, Caltrain is proposing to replace the 10-ride tickets with 8-ride tickets. Caltrain says 8-ride tickets work better with the existing validators than 10-ride tickets. The same discount will still be provided and riders will still be able to buy a monthly permit with two 8-ride tickets.

Fuel cost will remain a major challenge for Caltrain until electrification happens, but getting electrified is a challenge of itself. This year, Caltrain will continue final design for the electrification infrastructure, and will continue to work with federal regulators seeking approval to use electric trains common in Europe. However, funding to complete electrification is not certain. Because the funding would have to be provided from three Caltrain counties (San Francisco, San Mateo and Santa Clara), Caltrain more often than not have to compete with other priorities in each county. In Santa Clara for instance, Caltrain electrification has to compete for funding with the BART extension from Fremont to San Jose.