Time-sensitive – should Caltrain honor bus tickets/passes during Covid?

At today’s board meeting, Caltrain is going to hear a proposal to increase the discount on means-based fares from 20% to 50%.   The means-based discount applies to households making less than 2x the federal poverty level (~$50K for a family of 4 and requires participants to apply.    

What if, in addition, Caltrain honored bus fares and bus passes on the train?  In Boston, the nearly-empty commuter rail, whose white collar commuters are working from home,  have started to honor light rail tickets, to relieve crowding and improve equity. 

SamTrans reported yesterday at its board meeting that their El Camino service is carrying 30-50% of pre-Covid ridership, and because of distancing requirements they are seeing crowding. Caltrain ridership has been down over 95% and there is plenty of room on the trains.

SamTrans and VTA are currently fare free to avoid interaction between drivers and passengers, but they are working on installing plexiglass screens and expect to be charging fares again by August. What do you think about giving bus riders the choice to use Caltrain during Covid?

If you are interested in commenting, the item will be up at about 11am, with instructions on how to dial in or use Zoom to comment on the agenda document. Your blogger will be livetweeting at @alevin and will post on Twitter when this item is coming up during the board meeting.