Caltrain fare hikes, service changes on tap


By Bay City News Service

Caltrain officials are reminding the public that fare increases and service changes are set to go into effect in the new year.

Starting Jan. 1, it will cost an additional 25 cents per zone to ride Caltrain, and a one-way ticket from San Francisco to San Jose will increase from $7.75 to $8.50.

The fare increase is projected to raise an additional $1.4 million this fiscal year for the commuter rail system, which transports an estimated 38,000 passengers up and down the Peninsula every weekday, spokeswoman Christine Dunn said.

Caltrain will eliminate two northbound trains and two southbound trains from its midday schedule, bringing in a projected savings of $160,000, Ms. Dunn said.

The price for annual commuter tickets, known as the Go Pass, which are bought by employers for full-time employees and allow the rider to travel through unlimited Caltrain zones seven days a week, will increase from $140 to $155.

The increase is expected to generate around $150,000, which would pay for the cost of operating the program, she said.

All fare increases about to take effect were approved by the Caltrain Board of Directors in October and are intended to close a projected $2.3 million budget gap for fiscal year 2010-2011.

Also beginning in January, Caltrain will be running a three-month pilot program of weekend "baby bullet" express trains, which will make seven stops between San Jose and San Francisco.

Weekend trains currently make more than 20 stops.

Responding to rider requests for faster weekend trains and hoping to attract more riders and raise revenues, the pilot program will test the financial viability of establishing permanent baby bullet service on the weekends.

The pilot program will cost an estimated $107,000, which Caltrain can pay for from savings on projected fuel costs, Ms. Dunn said.

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