Restoring transit service for Caltrain and the Peninsula corridor; Caltrain maintenance still defunded

This week, at board meetings of Caltrain, SamTrans, and VTA, boards will discuss budgets and opportunities to restore service from pandemic cuts.

If you have time, call in to urge agencies to restore service to prepandemic levels ASAP. More people will be travelling as restrictions are lifted, and people need transit running in order to come back to transit.

Here’s a summary of the board meetings and comment links, and how to be notified when it’s time to give public comment. 

For more information about each agency, specific suggestions for comment, and a bit about Muni also, read on

AgencyDate/TimeAgenda ItemZoom/dial-in
SamTransWednesday June 2 2pmGeneral public comment, Agenda #5 (beginning of meeting)
https://samtrans.zoom.us/j/91275606315?pwd=L09zRlAweUpSVUg3L1V5U1RoUXFrdz09 o
CaltrainThursday June 3 9amAgenda #10 – Service restoration, (item will be after 11am)Zoom link: https://zoom.us/j/91412776292?pwd=cVdKa01PK2FKdm1CSUwwZXR3RmlkUT09 Call in: 1-669-900-6833. Meeting ID: 914 1277 6292, Passcode: 909765 
To be notified of time to comment: email friends@friendsofcaltrain.com
VTAThursday June 3, 5:30pmAgenda #7.3 – Biennial Budget 
Zoom link: https://us02web.zoom.us/j/84096907118Call in: +1 669 219 2599 Webinar ID: 840 9690 7118
Speaker sign up to be notified of the time to comment: https://actionnetwork.org/events/vta-board-meeting-63-at-530pm?source=direct_link&

SamTrans Wednesday 6/2 (Today), 2pm

At the SamTrans Citizens’ Advisory Committee last week, staff reported that SamTrans was running 82% of pre-pandemic service, and that the next schedule adjustment bringing back more service including school service would be in August. But they didn’t make commitments to bring back full service, although funds are budgeted to so. If you value bus service and have a few minutes at about 2pm today, please call in. 

Caltrain Thursday 6/3, board meeting starting 9:40am

Caltrain is getting a board presentation on fall service expansion, but won’t be making decisions yet.

At Caltrain’s Workplan board committee meeting last week, it sounded like Caltrain was wrestling with whether to bring more service back (pre-pandemic schedule was 92 trains) or whether to hold onto money in case ridership is low. This is risky, not prudent. In order to bring riders back, Caltrain needs to provide service.

Also, Caltrain is considering what service pattern to restore. Bringing back the baby bullet will help people with longer trips. With more telecommuting, and opportunities to serve additional trips and riders, it will be helpful to keep more evening and weekend service. And it will be helpful to design service for better connections. Stay tuned for more details on options Caltrain will consider to balance these goals.

Also at the Caltrain Thursday board meeting:

  • Caltrain is expected to get an updated schedule for electrification, including information about schedule delays. This will be under agenda items 7c and 8.
  • The Caltrain board is voting on a budget that underfunds maintenance, including less funding for maintaining diesel trains that will probably need to run longer because of electrification delays, and less funding for replacing 100+ year old bridges that are becoming unsafe. VTA still has over $100 million left in federal relief funding, not even counting the latest rounds of federal funding, but has so far declined to contribute. The partners are continuing to negotiate and there may be budget updates.  Most important for this, especially if you are a Santa Clara County resident, follow the instructions to comment on the VTA budget on Thursday evening.

VTA board meeting Thursday 6/3 meeting starting 5:30pm

VTA still does not have plans to restore service before the economy and schools reopen and they have no marketing plan to get ridership back. 

Please comment at the board meeting budget item: 

  • urge VTA to restore service ASAP and create a join the regional marketing initiative to get ridership back
  • Urge VTA to take advantage of its surplus funds to support Caltrain maintenance to ensure reliable service and safety

SFMTA service restoration issues

Last week Julie Kirschbaum, SFMTA’s director of transit, presented to San Francisco Transit Riders on Muni’s service restoration plans and challenges. You can watch the video here.

San Francisco Transit Riders is working on recommendations.  You can follow SFTR directly, and we’ll report on their recommendations when SFTR shares them.

People will travel more as pandemic restrictions ease

Covid case rates in the Bay Area have been falling rapidly and people are starting to travel more. Agencies need to provide service to bring riders back. Please comment where you can urging transit boards to restore service.

Source: https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2021/us/covid-cases-deaths-tracker.html