Caltrain Citizens’ Advisory Committee wants integrated fares ASAP

The Caltrain Citizens’ Advisory Committee was enthusiastic about the region’s proposal for progress at its meeting on Wednesday, November 17. “This can’t come soon enough” was the comment from multiple committee members. Following the presentation, the CAC created a subcommittee to draft a resolution to support speedy implementation of the recommendations.

Two days before, the Fare Integration Task Force had voted in favor of a Fare Policy Vision including a pilot all-agency pass for organizations starting in 2022, free transfers in 2023, and standardized regional fares as soon as 2024; as well as some sort of pass for individuals. These were the recommendations of the regional fare study, which showed that integrated fares would be a very cost-effective strategy to increase transit ridership.

However, in order to take action, all 27 transit agency boards will need to vote to approve the recommendations.  The MTC has identified a funding source and a schedule for the first two steps – the all-agency pilot pass for organizations, and free transfers. 

However, the date for standardizing regional fares (BART, Caltrain, ferries, regional bus) is unclear, even though this step was modeled to generate as much transit ridership as adding another pre-Covid Caltrain. And the specifics of the individual pass still need more work to define.  These steps will also require additional funding. 

The Metropolitan Transportation Commission has identified Fare Integration and several other steps to implement the Blue Ribbon Task Force Transformation Action Plan in its ask for the state’s budget surplus.

So, for the Caltrain CEC to make a resolution to implement integrated fares as soon as possible, the resolution would include:

  • Support for the first two steps – all-agency pass pilot in 2022, free transfers in 2023
  • Support for the funding and planning to implement the standard regional fares (BART-Caltrain) and individual passes as soon as humanly possible with Clipper 2.0 starting in 2023

There is a steep uphill climb to bring transit ridership back after the declines of Covid. Moving forward with fare integration is a logical step to make transit more convenient and affordable.