Caltrain partners still negotiating about maintenance budget including seismically unsafe bridge

At Caltrain’s last board meeting, the finance staff announced that Caltrain and its partners were still negotiating about the maintenance budget. While the board voted last week to approve a 2021/2 budget, there may be upcoming budget amendments in the next few months.

The budget that was approved did not include any partner funding for the capital state of good repair budget. Items that did not receive funding included maintenance of diesel trains, which are now expected to be running longer based on the announcement of delays to the electrification project.  

Another delayed item is the replacement of the Guadalupe River Bridge, a wooden bridge constructed in 1935, which is seismically unsafe, and has been damaged by multiple fires.  The bridge project location is located in the districts of San Jose Council Members Dev Davis, who currently chairs the Caltrain board and has a seat on the VTA board, and Council Member Raul Peralez, who also sits on the VTA board.  

VTA did not include funding for Caltrain maintenance in its budget, but at last week’s VTA board meeting, which was shortened to focus on memorials for fallen workers, board members Simitian and Burt spoke up in favor of funding Caltrain maintenance.

The question of ongoing budget responsibilities, after the passage of Measure RR last November, has not yet been worked out among the Caltrain Joint Powers Authority partners.   Hopefully Caltrain’s governance process will include solutions for agreements and multi-year budgeting, to reduce annual negotiations about questions such as whether to replace a seismically unsafe bridge.