News

Caltrain shifts to new rail operator

TransitAmerica Services Inc. to take over operations from Amtrak

Over the next five months, Caltrain operations will transition from Amtrak to TransitAmerica Services Inc., following the unanimous approval Thursday (Sept. 1) by the Peninsula Corridor Joint Powers Board to contract with the St. Joseph, Missouri, firm.

The approval comes after a 15-month bidding process that led to the comparison of five rail operators, Caltrain officials said in a statement Thursday.

TransitAmerica submitted the highest ranking proposal, which was scored in three major areas of criteria: the management, operations and maintenance plan; the cost proposal; and the qualifications and experience of the firm and key personnel proposed by the firm as the management team for the Caltrain service.

The first full year (FY 2013) of the five-year contract is for $59.5 million, within the projected Caltrain operating and capital budgets, according to the Caltrain statement. Subsequent contract amounts are subject to annual negotiations.

It's likely that the familiar faces of those running the trains will remain the same; federal regulations provide job protections for current employees.

The major components of Caltrain's contract include the daily staffing and operations of trains, as well as inspection and maintenance of tracks, the passenger-rail fleet, rights of way, structures, the signaling and communication network, stations and other facilities.

As part of the contract, Caltrain will require TransitAmerica to achieve certain performance standards around management, safety, on-time performance, and other critical tasks prior to receiving its full management fee, according to Thursday's statement.

Amtrak has operated Caltrain for more than 20 years.

— Embarcadero Media

Comments

 +   Like this comment
Posted by Joseph E. Davis
a resident of Woodside: Emerald Hills
on Sep 2, 2011 at 10:40 am

Whose brilliant idea was it to have federal regulations provide job protection for current Caltrain employees? The mind boggles.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Martin Engel
a resident of Menlo Park: Park Forest
on Sep 2, 2011 at 12:31 pm

1. They picked the wrong company. They picked TransitAmerica, which has far less experience than the third highest bidder, Veolia, which is the largest private (not Amtrak) passenger rail operator in the US.

2. Although Amtrak/Bombadier was the highest bidder, TransAmerica's bid was still a lot higher than Veolia and two other bids.

3. According to Mike Rosenberg, TransitAmerica is newer and smaller company than Veolia. The best way to see the difference is that TransitAmerica's host company had $401 million in revenues in 2009, while Veolia had $8.5 billion.

Then, Mike Rosenberg reminds us that:

"Caltrain has a history of spending more money to keep what it considers top talent. [[Starting with its executive team]]

It pays CEO Mike Scanlon a higher salary than any other transit boss in the state and in recent years raised its payroll for administrative employees and paid raises to its Amtrak contractors. This year, executives revised their initial budget upward in order to keep service intact."

The point? Caltrain does it again. They are lavish with themselves and with their contracts, but annually complain about "fiscal emergencies" since they can't meet their operating budgets and don't get enough subsidies.

It's time to do away with the expensive Caltrain organization and fold the Peninsula Commuter Rail into a single Bay Area transit operator that includes BART and the Capital Corridor Joint Powers Board. That way, we will have a real Bay Area wide transit network and it will be State maintained with serious oversight.

Right now, Caltrain has no oversight or accountability except to themselves and their rubber stamp joint powers board. We can do better than Caltrain and its ambiguous multi-layered organizations that operate like a street-corner shell game.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Michael G. Stogner
a resident of another community
on Sep 2, 2011 at 2:41 pm

Another example of where a Citizens Oversight Committee might be helpful.

Maybe its time that we don't need the Best and the Brightest hires.


Don't miss out on the discussion!
Sign up to be notified of new comments on this topic.

Email:


Post a comment

Posting an item on Town Square is simple and requires no registration. Just complete this form and hit "submit" and your topic will appear online. Please be respectful and truthful in your postings so Town Square will continue to be a thoughtful gathering place for sharing community information and opinion. All postings are subject to our TERMS OF USE, and may be deleted if deemed inappropriate by our staff.

We prefer that you use your real name, but you may use any "member" name you wish.

Name: *

Select your neighborhood or school community: * Not sure?

Comment: *

Verification code: *
Enter the verification code exactly as shown, using capital and lowercase letters, in the multi-colored box.

*Required Fields

Flirtation
By Chandrama Anderson | 4 comments | 1,547 views

King of the Slides
By Cheryl Bac | 3 comments | 1,183 views

Standardized Test Prep: When to Start and Whom to Hire?
By John Raftrey and Lori McCormick | 0 comments | 728 views

Where the Sidewalk Ends
By Paul Bendix | 1 comment | 371 views