San Jose staff, Mayor and Council pursue vision of Caltrain growth, network connections, equity

On Tuesday’s San Jose City Council will weigh on on Caltrain’s Business Plan Vision. The San Jose staff report, and a colleague’s memo from the Mayor and four Council members, support Caltrain’s growth plans and encourage Caltrain to strengthen its business plan policies for stronger regional and local network connections and greater rider diversity.

Caltrain staff’s recommendations for a growth vision called for substantial increase in ridership to meet pent-up demand – but was a bit timid in the approach, recommending that the agency “not preclude” higher levels of growth and to plan for it after uncertain funding is lined up.

Actively pursue growth, funding, and a regional network

Instead, the San Jose Department of Transportation proposes that City Council urge Caltrain to “proactively prepare” for a High Growth Scenario”, and to advocate to regional and state agencies to create a comprehensive, integrated and funded plan for a “Statewide and Bay Area passenger rail network.” This stronger stance is what is needed to make big things happen.

Also, San Jose transportation staff recommends that Caltrain, its member agencies and partners work more proactively toward “solutions for region-wide rail governance and mega-project implementation,”  for huge projects such as a second transbay rail crossing, and corridor grade separations. Caltrain’s draft business plan recommended cooperating with initiatives for megaproject implementation, but was much more tentative about broader regional governance changes, assessing that these sorts of changes will take many years and are not urgent.

In urging progress toward a regional network, San Jose DOT highlights the potentially transformational benefits of a second Transbay rail crossing between Oakland and San Francisco, and renewed rail services on the Dumbarton Corridor.  Only at the higher levels of Caltrain capacity will trains be able to “interline” – allowing people to have one seat rides to/from Sacramento and the Central Valley to places on the Peninsula Corridor.   

The Transportation staff recommendation highlights the multiagency collaboration on the Diridon station, which is seeking to set the stage for rail infrastructure for a century to come, as a model of the regional, interagency, longterm efforts that are needed.

Mayor Sam Liccardo and four council members – Liccardo, Jimenez, Peralez, and Esparza – support the staff recommendation and urge City Council to make stronger recommendations in a few additional areas:

  • Seamless transit. “Proactively pursue seamless transit interconnectivity to improve customer experience for trips that include transfers between systems. This should include fare integration, schedule coordination, station design, and other near-term and long-term strategies and policies that will improve customer-focused transit service integration”
  • Diversifying ridership.   Supporting recent stakeholder feedback, the Mayor and Colleagues support “workplan efforts to conduct an equity analysis to identify the barriers preventing low-income people and communities of color from using Caltrain.”

In addition, in response to persistent concerns from residents in the Gregory/Gardner/North Willow Glen neighborhoods on the corridor south of Diridon,  the Mayor and Council members want to see Caltrain protect and improve conditions that affect residents including noise, vibration, and emissions, providing trees and sound walls, and protecting Fuller Park, and separating the Caltrain tracks from cross streets.

A vision of a connected network for all

The visions and policies encouraged for San Jose City Council go far beyond the limited, standalone, exclusive, single-purpose history of Caltrain. These visions and policies would evolve Caltrain into a component of a regional network that could be used by many different types of people, for different local, regional, and megaregional trips.  These visions and policies go far beyond perspectives of local leaders that have too often been parochial, focusing on local benefits and impacts. 

San Jose leaders want to reduce impacts on local neighborhoods – and also want Caltrain, and the city, and the region, to support a regional and state system where the whole is greater than the sum of the parts.  

San Jose transit supporters – can you help support this strong vision?

Do you live in San Jose and have time to speak at City Council to support these good recommendations from staff, the Mayor and Council members? The agenda item will likely be heard in the afternoon at San Jose City Council Chambers, 3pm or later.  If you are close enough to City Hall you can watch the meeting webcast and head over when the previous item seems to be winding down. If you live or work or regularly visit San Jose but can’t make it, send an email to regarding Agenda item 6.2, Caltrain Long-Range Service Vision; City Priorities and Preferred Scenario.

Send email to the Mayor and especially your Council Member
Mayor Sam Liccardo – mayoremail@sanjoseca.gov
Vice Mayor Chappie Jones – District1@sanjoseca.gov
Council Member Sergio Jimenez – District2@sanjoseca.gov
Council Member Raul Peralez – District3@sanjoseca.gov
Council Member Lan Diep – District4@sanjoseca.gov
Council Member Magdalena Carrasco – District5@sanjoseca.gov
Council Member Dev Davis – District6@sanjoseca.gov
Council Member Maya Esparza – District7@sanjoseca.gov
Council Member Silvia Arenas – District8@sanjoseca.gov
Council Member Pam Foley – District9@sanjoseca.gov
Council Member Johnny Khamis – District10@sanjoseca.gov

Copy the city clerk at: cityclerk@sanjoseca.gov
Feel free to send us a copy at friends@friendsofcaltrain.com