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Atherton says it will sue Caltrain over electrification plan

 

Unhappy with Caltrain's response to a letter from Atherton requesting concessions on plans to electrify the rail system between San Francisco and San Jose, Atherton's City Council has decided to go ahead with a lawsuit.

At a closed session meeting on Wednesday, Feb. 4, the council reviewed a letter from Caltrain responding to some of the town's concerns and "decided to move forward with a legal challenge to the Final Environmental Impact Report for Caltrain's Electrification Project," City Manager George Rodericks reported.

The deadline to file a challenge to the environmental report is Saturday, Feb. 7, but because the deadline falls on a weekend, the town's attorneys have until Monday, Feb. 9, to file the lawsuit. The letter from Marian Lee, Caltrain's executive officer for the modernization project, was a response to a Jan. 21 letter from Atherton Mayor Rick DeGolia.

Mr. DeGolia's letter asked Caltrain to extend the period in which the environmental report could be challenged, to give the town and Caltrain more time to negotiate. Caltrain did not grant the request, noting "that time will not materially change the responses" to the town's concerns.

The Caltrain letter addressed six other issues the town had brought up after the final environmental report was released:

● Quad gates at Watkins Avenue crossing. The town had asked Caltrain to help pay for safer gates at the crossing, which could allow the town to request trains no longer sound their horns at that location. Caltrain said it could not help pay for the gates, but would "provide technical input ... that may be required by regulatory agencies relative to such a project."

● Study of alternatives to electrification, including modern diesel options. Caltrain said it "respectfully disagree(s)" that it had not done this in the environmental review. The report looks at three diesel-based alternatives, Ms. Lee's letter says.

● High-speed rail and Caltrain electrification. The town had argued that one project could not be considered without considering the environmental impacts of the other. Ms. Lee's letter says that the projects are independent and that "electrification has been a fundamental assumption in the planning for the future of Caltrain long before high speed rail was proposed."

● Schedule - Atherton had asked Caltrain to commit to more train service for Atherton with electrification. Ms. Lee's letter says that while "no commitments can be made to any city at this time," a sample schedule included in the environmental study shows 54 daily stops in Atherton.

● Civic Center Project. Atherton had asked Caltrain to work with the town to make sure its plans for the Atherton train station do not disrupt or change the town's Civic Center project, which is still in the planing stages. Ms. Lee's letter said Caltrain is already working with town staff on this.

● Trees. The town had asked Caltrain to commit to using a system that requires the fewest number of trees to be pruned or removed when adding the electrification wires. Ms. Lee's letter says Caltrain is committed to doing this.

Click here to see the Caltrain letter.

Comments

16 people like this
Posted by Martin
a resident of another community
on Feb 6, 2015 at 8:35 am

Atherton, get with the program, and stop whining!!


23 people like this
Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Feb 6, 2015 at 8:53 am

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

Atherton should buy 3 acres of land adjacent to its station and have a developer build low/moderate rental housing. That would both fulfill Atherton's unmet obligation to provide such housing and would generate enough demand to justify the train stopping in Atherton during the week.


11 people like this
Posted by Jenny
a resident of Menlo Park: Stanford Hills
on Feb 6, 2015 at 12:40 pm

This is ridiculous. I really don't understand. Caltrain's responses are very reasonable.


9 people like this
Posted by peninsula resident
a resident of Menlo-Atherton High School
on Feb 6, 2015 at 2:03 pm

Jenny wrote:
> Caltrain's responses are very reasonable.

Caltrain is most certainly not being reasonable.

They're trying to avoid CEQA compliance, which is entirely unreasonable considering it is a regional commuter train funded by the region/state, while trying to start a project that is bigger than smaller projects that DO require CEQA. THAT is unreasonable.

Also (as a side issue), Caltrain is saying electrification is a project independent of HSR (to avoid HSR logistics), yet is getting funding primarily as a byproduct of HSR.

Atherton is doing the right thing.



15 people like this
Posted by Reality Check
a resident of another community
on Feb 6, 2015 at 3:56 pm

The fact that the HSRA funds being used to help pay for Caltrain electrification cannot and does not change the fact that it's at least a 25-year-old project idea with independent justification and utility which far pre-dates CA HSR. Here's a link to the released-in-1992 Caltrain electrification study: Web Link

Atherton's actions have been nothing but obstructionism designed to inflict maximum cost & delay in hopes of someday killing HSR, particularly though Menlo Park and Atherton. Two recent Atherton mayors (Janz & Carlson) are either founders or board members of the super litigious and rabidly anti-HSR group Community Coalition on High Speed Rail (CC-HSR). Link: Web Link

Read more here: Web Link


11 people like this
Posted by peninsula resident
a resident of Menlo-Atherton High School
on Feb 6, 2015 at 8:30 pm

Using funds from HSR means you have to abide by the requirements specified in the proposition that voters voted on.

You don't get to take the money then ignore the strings.

From the text of Proposition 1a:

"Prior to committing any proceeds... a detailed
funding plan for that corridor or usable segment
thereof that (A) identifies the corridor or usable
segment thereof, and the estimated full cost of
constructing the corridor or usable segment thereof,
(B) identifies the sources of all funds to be used
and anticipates time of receipt thereof based on
offered commitments by private parties, and
authorizations, allocations, or other assurances
received from governmental agencies, (C) includes
a projected ridership and operating revenue report,
(D) includes a construction cost projection including
estimates of cost escalation during construction and
appropriate reserves for contingencies,..."

> it's at least a 25-year-old project idea

M'kay.

If this project is as important as Caltrain is saying and has taken as long as you're saying, then it behooves them to try to get the funding legally. Instead they're trying to violate Prop 1a and put the entire project at risk.

That's pretty dumb.


7 people like this
Posted by Clem
a resident of another community
on Feb 7, 2015 at 9:26 am

A CEQA lawsuit has nothing to do with the source of funding. There will surely be another separate taxpayer lawsuit when 1A funds are disbursed to Caltrain.

One thing to keep in mind is that lawsuits are the intended enforcement mechanism for CEQA. This lawsuit is not a surprise to anyone, least of all Caltrain. It will be dealt with in short order.


6 people like this
Posted by Fact check
a resident of Atherton: other
on Feb 7, 2015 at 10:00 am

Reality Check: "Two recent Atherton mayors (Janz & Carlson) are either founders or board members of the super litigious and rabidly anti-HSR group Community Coalition on High Speed Rail (CC-HSR)"

Yes, and BOTH Janz and Carlson have or had (Carlson sold his and left Atherton) homes directly next to the railway. Janz continues to be on the rail committee even though his backyard is adjacent to the railway.

Why is Atherton allowing them to set an agenda of spending taxpayer money for litigation, when the issue primarily affects them and a few others who, knowingly, bought homes next to the railway??


5 people like this
Posted by Bob
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Feb 7, 2015 at 10:19 am

Interesting that they're asking for local improvements, such as new gates and more stops at the station in return for electrification. I remember the days when the train stopped at Atherton, most of the time nobody getting on or off. You want an improved crossing? Pay for it, why should the rest of us? 101 and 280 are a mess, train ridership during peak times is SRO. Electrification needed for environmental and speed/frequency of trains improvements. Let's get going, people, and stop the NIMBY.


2 people like this
Posted by peninsula resident
a resident of Menlo-Atherton High School
on Feb 7, 2015 at 10:39 am

Clem wrote:
> A CEQA lawsuit has nothing to do with
> the source of funding.

Agreed, which is why I mentioned it was "a side issue" (though a critical one).

> There will surely be another separate
> taxpayer lawsuit when 1A funds are
> disbursed to Caltrain.

Ding ding ding ding! This is correct. And we're not just talking Atherton here, we're talking many municipalities & groups along the ROW.

Prop 1a funds come with conditions. The voters REQUIRED those conditions as part of the Proposition. They (Caltrain & HSR) don't get to ignore taxpayers and voters. The money comes with strings and they know it. They don't get to take the money and ignore the conditions that comes with the money.

If Caltrain wants to build electrification on the timeline they want, they have to get the funds from somewhere else. If they don't, this project is dead in the water.

The voters and taxpayers have rights, and we expect the things we vote on to be enforced.


3 people like this
Posted by Clem
a resident of another community
on Feb 7, 2015 at 10:50 am

You make it sound as if Caltrain grabbed the money and ran. They didn't: the legislature made this decision, and the courts may be reluctant to get in the way of that. Separation of powers and all that. We're going to need a big tub of popcorn because the answer isn't cut and dry and there will be numerous plot twists.


5 people like this
Posted by afluenza
a resident of Menlo Park: Downtown
on Feb 7, 2015 at 11:13 am

All I can say is that a working class city would never pull an afluenza stunt like this. Holding the rest of the peninsula hostage to protect your property values.


3 people like this
Posted by Stuberman
a resident of another community
on Feb 7, 2015 at 2:35 pm

Basing my comments on the article and comments made by readers it appears to me that the Town of Atherton is taking an obstructionis approach to a highly desirable project.

I can't comment on Peninsula Resident's claim that funding from HSR funds is not allowed. However, CalTrain has been historically hobbled because it has no dedicated source of funds (other than fares). The use of HSR money to fund this project is one way of rectifying this shortsightedness and starting to bring CalTrain into the 21st century.


4 people like this
Posted by Menlo Voter
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Feb 7, 2015 at 2:37 pm

Menlo Voter is a registered user.

Stuberman:

prop 1A specifically forbids the expenditure of funds for HSR on anything but HSR. The use of 1A funds for this is illegal.


3 people like this
Posted by Clem
a resident of another community
on Feb 7, 2015 at 2:50 pm

I don't think it matters. If HSR and Caltrain pulled a maneuver where by the stroke of a pen $500 million of 1A HSR funds were swapped out for $500 million of cap-and-trade funds allocated to HSR (and not subject to the small print in 1A) do you think Atherton would suddenly be OK with everything? Get real. At this point it doesn't take a lawyer to see that we're three moves away from check mate!


1 person likes this
Posted by Stuberman
a resident of another community
on Feb 7, 2015 at 3:06 pm

Menlo Voter,

There seems to be some contention about your assertion, even among the commenters on this list.

By the way, would you take the word of someone who is unwilling to use their real name?


4 people like this
Posted by Morris Brown
a resident of Menlo Park: Park Forest
on Feb 7, 2015 at 3:43 pm

Indeed Prop 1A does insist that any construction funding of the bonds from Prop 1A be used only for HSR funding. (There was another pot of money of $950 million that was allocated for use by other agencies).

The $600 million that the legislature approved in SB-1029 (2012), to be spent on CalTrain as well as the $500 million that was allocated to go down to So. California are both blatantly in violation of the citizen's passed Prop 1A. Nevertheless the legislature voted this appropriation in SB-1029.

Comments like those from Stuberman above, indicate the he (and others), could care less about what the law says, (in this case a bond measure approved the the whole voting citizens of California), to him and others, CalTrain deserves and needs the money regardless of any legal obstacles.


Like this comment
Posted by Stuberman
a resident of another community
on Feb 7, 2015 at 3:53 pm

Hi Morris,

I find it interesting that you attribute to me things that I never said.

Clem's comment that there is more than one source for funding electrification by HSR might be the way to go in order to placate some on this list.


4 people like this
Posted by Morris Brown
a resident of Menlo Park: Park Forest
on Feb 7, 2015 at 3:59 pm

@Clem

You are a huge advocate for CalTrain; usually I don't mind most of your assertions.

However, I find it ridiculous where you state "and not subject to the small print in 1A" is really nonsense. Quite clearly these funds allotted to CalTrain, which are, by CalTrain's own admission, for their (CalTrain's) project, (and not for HSR); are not subject to what the public was led to believe, namely that Prop 1A was to build a HSR project, and certainly not to electrify a commuter train running down the peninsula.

If CalTrain can get their funding from Cap and Trade, so be it. If CalTrain can find the needed funding from other sources, so be it. But the present funding is not legal and should not permitted.




4 people like this
Posted by morris brown
a resident of Menlo Park: Park Forest
on Feb 7, 2015 at 4:13 pm

@Stuberman

You did write above:

"The use of HSR money to fund this project is one way of rectifying this shortsightedness and starting to bring CalTrain into the 21st century."

I just don't understand your comment that I am attributing to you something you did not endorse.

Historically CalTrain has never been able to get the funding for their project. The only reason these funds were appropriated to them was basically a bribe ( a back room deal at the last moment) to get enough of the State Senators to vote to approve SB-1029. (even with these "handouts" to both No. Cal and So. Cal senators, SB-1029 passed by only 1 vote.)

It should be made clear, however, that the appropriation allotted in SB-1029 is only one step in the process to getting Prop 1A bonds floated and funds from these bonds actually passed on to CalTrain.

This doesn't deter, CalTrain at all however. They are spending plenty of funds on studies etc., even though their funding for the project is anything but secure.






2 people like this
Posted by Clem
a resident of another community
on Feb 7, 2015 at 4:38 pm

The funding will come together, even if a taxpayer lawsuit forces minor changes. The electrification project has enough momentum, community support (excepting Atherton, of course) and institutional buy-in among agencies at all levels of government to be essentially unstoppable at this point. Caltrain would be remiss in not proceeding full speed ahead. It only took a quarter century for the plan to come together.

I am so glad to hear that a committed HSR opponent such as yourself is fully in support of Caltrain electrification, provided that the funding source is altered to your liking. I'm sure that detail will be sorted out!


Like this comment
Posted by Stuberman
a resident of another community
on Feb 7, 2015 at 5:09 pm

Hi Morris,

You might want to take a step back for long enough cool down and read what I said. And then to correct your inaccurate restatements of what I did say.

Am I to classify you among the supporters of CalTrain electrification as Clem states? If so that is really great. When Hwy. 101 was 3 lanes in each direction I thought that there was no room to widen it. It is now as much as 6 lanes in each direction (I think). I really love the beauty that each new lane of pavement adds to the Peninsula.


6 people like this
Posted by Morris Brown
a resident of Menlo Park: Park Forest
on Feb 7, 2015 at 6:48 pm

@Clem

I am not a CalTrain electrification supporter; far from that.

My position is that it needs to be funded legally if it is to proceed, and the current plan is certainly anything but legal.

Your position that funding is not a problem, is exactly the same position that the Authority promotes on HSR funding; just don't worry about the funds -- go full speed ahead.

If indeed CalTrain has so much community support, why not just float a bond measure or get the legislature to allocate the needed funds from the State budget. Maybe you are right and another form of funding could be found. From what you believe, that should be a simple task.

BTW, I have never understood the confidence that CalTrain has in the "matching" funds for the project that they projected in the MOU with the Authority. Dan Richard promised me 2 years ago, CalTrain would answer my questions on their funding; they have yet to respond.

-------------

proposed funding for the electrification can be viewed at:

Web Link



3 people like this
Posted by Reality Check
a resident of another community
on Feb 8, 2015 at 1:22 am

Mr. Brown, as someone who bought a condo adjacent to the Caltrain tracks, why on earth would you be "far from" being an electrification supporter!?

Like you, I used to live (as a renter, however) on the Menlo Park Caltrain tracks, and while the noise (and vibration from heavy freights) didn't bother me or any of my immediate neighbors in the least, I cannot fathom why you would oppose the quieter rolling stock and elimination of diesel locomotive noise and emissions -- let alone the transit service improvement and nearby property value increase -- that Caltrain electrification entails.

What's there not to like about that?


2 people like this
Posted by morris brown
a resident of Menlo Park: Park Forest
on Feb 8, 2015 at 9:26 am

I really should add that the link I posted above showing the proposed funding in the MOU with MTC:

Web Link

is really outdated.

New costs estimated are shown at:

Web Link

which reflect an increase of 21% over the previous estimate (about a $300 million increase). No word on how the shortfall is to be covered, but full speed ahead anyway.


8 people like this
Posted by peninsula resident
a resident of Menlo-Atherton High School
on Feb 8, 2015 at 12:38 pm

It is very reassuring to see that others believe as I do: the will of voting citizens and the rights of taxpayers is a crucial part of our system of government and are to be both respected and enforced. Sometimes I feel like the lone voice of sanity.

If HSR (and CalTrain by proxy) want Prop 1A funding, they have to do it within the confines of what the public voted for, which includes:

1) funding plans in advance of construction for each segment;
2) funding in advance of construction;
3) Environmental compliance in advance of construction;
4) (and more. Not listed for brevity, and to avoid carpal tunnel :) );

For what it's worth, I'm not an opponent of Caltrain Electrification per se. My issues are with the implementation. Here are just a few of the issues with Caltrain's choice of Electrification as the cure-all:

1) Funding in violation of Prop 1A (this will kill Caltrain Electrification, at least within the timeline Caltrain wants);

2) Attempting to avoid CEQA compliance;

3) The Caltrain plan is classic "cart before the horse". Electrification is a short-term approach that needs a longer-term solution: the carrying capacity of the ROW is the single biggest limiting factor to significantly increasing capacity to accommodate future growth;

4) The ROW is one of the most unsafe commuter rail routes in the USA. In my opinion, the deaths on the ROW trump getting to your destination 5 minutes faster, and should be a higher priority.

5) There are other ways to achieve faster destination times (not discussed much, but one of Caltrain's real objectives for the project) while creating win-win scenarios. One example: at-grade boarding. This reduced the time at each station, particularly in cases where a disabled person needs assistance boarding. Caltrain makes no effort to address faster destination times that are cheaper and more effective. Another: eliminating at-grade crossings. This can allow the trains to exceed the 79MPH limit currently imposed, while creating a safer ROW while not choking all other transportation in the area.







5 people like this
Posted by Clem
a resident of another community
on Feb 8, 2015 at 3:32 pm

You'll have to explain how Caltrain is trying to avoid CEQA compliance. Is it by preparing and delivering reams and reams of data to support every detail of their EIR document? Is it by retooling an EIR that was first drafted in 2004 and updated in 2009? Is it by holding extensive stakeholder outreach meetings with communities up and down the peninsula? Is it by committing to a comprehensive plan of environmental mitigations? Be specific!

Electrification is one of multiple ways to increase the carrying capacity of the right-of-way, both by allowing for more trains per hour (hence the yammering about gate down-time) and by allowing for longer trains without performance loss.

The ROW is reasonably safe, if you ignore for the moment that it is a suicide magnet. No amount of "safety" improvements will prevent suicides.

Caltrain is also finally starting to wake up to the benefits of level boarding as you point out. There is a six-month delay in the train procurement to figure out a solution for this very issue.

Grade separation is extremely expensive, and is a long-term process that will occur on a city-by-city and crossing-by-crossing basis, as it has for decades past. The ROW is already 2/3rds grade separated; the remaining third of crossings will get separated soon enough, as the hundreds of millions required for this undertaking become available. For now, that money doesn't grow on trees.


2 people like this
Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Feb 8, 2015 at 4:05 pm

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

"No amount of "safety" improvements will prevent suicides."

Wrong, French high speed rail has practically pedestrian deaths (a bicyclist) because they have a totally secured right of way with NO pedestrian access over 98% of the right of way.

"Grade separation is extremely expensive, and is a long-term process that will occur on a city-by-city and crossing-by-crossing basis, as it has for decades past."

Without grade separation on the entire peninsula route most of the speed opportunities from electrification will not be realized.


2 people like this
Posted by Clem
a resident of another community
on Feb 8, 2015 at 5:07 pm

Raising the speed limit above 79 mph is an exercise of diminishing returns for trains that stop every few miles. The key to faster trip times is much stronger acceleration, which requires high power and low weight. Diesel trains have neither, hence the need for electrification before grade separation.


2 people like this
Posted by Reality Check
a resident of another community
on Feb 8, 2015 at 6:04 pm

90% or more of the 13-14 average annual deaths on the Caltrain line are suicides. Some the remainder are presumed accidental, and probably some fraction of those are suicides which could not be proven.

Even assuming the remainder are all truly accidental deaths, that makes an average of just over 1 accidental death per year. Hardly supports the NIMBY concern trolls' self-serving obsession with safety.

The happy fact is that it's just not that easy to get yourself accidentally killed by Caltrain.

Suicides can and do occur at station platforms ... just as recently occurred at BART's Powell St. station, and has occurred at both Mountain View and Palo Alto station ... so costly grade separations cannot stop suicides.

Also, the FRA requires costly in-cab signaling for speeds of 80 mph or more. So grade separations (or lack thereof) have nothing to do with 79 mph speed limits.


Like this comment
Posted by peninsula resident
a resident of Menlo-Atherton High School
on Feb 8, 2015 at 9:01 pm

Clem wrote:
> You'll have to explain how Caltrain is trying to avoid CEQA compliance.

From here:
Web Link

"Ackemann said Caltrain is committed to pursuing mitigation measures outlined in the environmental report. But the agency also says that, if the environmental report is challenged in court, it has the authority under federal rules to claim an exemption from the California Environmental Quality Act. Ackemann said this is merely an option."

> Electrification is one of multiple ways to increase the carrying capacity of the right-of-way,

That's what I've been saying. Thanks for agreeing. The other ways make more sense for both long-term needs and short-term needs.

> yammering about gate down-time

I have news for you: there are transportation needs that go East-West that are just as worthy as North-South...I know you're shocked but that's the reality. Caltrain's plans make East-West transportation worse. It doesn't need to be that way.

> The ROW is reasonably safe, if you ignore for the moment that it is a suicide magnet. No amount of "safety" improvements will prevent suicides.

I don't need to address this misguided statement since Mr. Carpenter addressed it quite well.

> Caltrain is also finally starting to wake up to the benefits of level boarding

Good to hear. Hopefully that includes getting rid of the Holdout stations. They're a death trap that Caltrain does nothing about. If anyone dies at a holdout station due to Caltrain neglect or mistakes, the trains should be shutdown and management jailed.

> remaining third of crossings will get separated soon enough, as the hundreds of millions required for this undertaking become available.

As long as that millions comes legally, without violating Prop 1A requirements, then that sounds good to me! I eagerly await hearing Caltrains funding plan! I won't hold my breath


8 people like this
Posted by peninsula resident
a resident of Menlo-Atherton High School
on Feb 8, 2015 at 10:11 pm

Reality Check wrote:
> NIMBY concern trolls' self-serving obsession with safety.

Given a choice between self-serving safety and your obvious self-serving interest in being somewhere 5 minutes faster at the expense of safety, the taxpayers, the law and the long-term interests of this region, I think I'll hang out with the people that have a higher regard for their fellow man than you do.

This is where you should probably stop arguing. You're in over your head, obviously.


Like this comment
Posted by Reality Check
a resident of another community
on Feb 9, 2015 at 12:41 am

Proof by assertion? Fail.

5 min faster? Does anyone even know what @resident is fantasizing about?

And Caltrain's Ackemann didn't say a word about CEQA noncompliance ... she's merely making clear they may not choose to entertain any purely antI-HSR NIMBY CEQA concern troll lawsuits whose only true aim is to stall or kill the project brought by a small totally non-reprentantive of anything or anyone privileged grumpy old white guys living near the tracks with way more time and money on their hands than they know how to do any good with.

And if anyone dies in any areas where there are insufficiently safe crosswalks, signals, intersection or on/off-ramp designs, speed limits, sightlines, traffic-calming or bike lanes, I'm sure our resident safety concern trolll will similarly be bleating on about immediate road shutdowns and jailing of all officials with any sort of say or jurisdiction thereof!

About those important east-west corridors: try timing east west traffic light green times and comparing them with crossing gate up times and get back to us with your findings along with your plan for how to even begin to make east-west traffic lights as permissive to that all important east-west traffic as RR crossing gates are.

[part removed.]


4 people like this
Posted by Morris Brown
a resident of Menlo Park: Park Forest
on Feb 9, 2015 at 8:14 am

A new study from MTC called Vital Signs has very discouraging data for those claiming mass transit is the "be all and end all" to our traffic congestion etc.

An article from the Mercury News group:

Web Link

and also a front page article in the Daily Post (2/09/2015)

This report shows:

The MTC report called Vital Signs looked back at data for more than four decades in which the Bay Area population has swelled to more than 7.1 million from 5.2 million. It is the most detailed look at traffic conditions the agency has ever compiled, looking at everything from how we get to work, where we are coming from, the time it takes to make that trip and the condition of the highways, city streets and bridges.

Some of the conclusions of the MTC report are depressing for traffic planners. Despite the addition of hundreds of miles of carpool lanes stretching from Marin to Oakland and San Jose, the percentage of those sharing a ride to work has declined about 3 percent since Ronald Reagan was in the White House. While BART and Caltrain ridership is soaring, overall transit ridership remains low and bus lines have lost passengers.

Solo drivers account for two-thirds of all commuters, a statistic that has remained constant for decades.

Only 1 in 10 commuters take transit, the same as in the early 1990s and a 3 percent decline in total ridership since 2002. The only major metro areas with greater declines in passengers are Houston, Dallas-Fort Worth and Atlanta.

Lots of ways to look at data but

In the last 20 years there has been only a 3% increase in total transit ridership, but when you consider the population increase, this represents a per capita decrease in ridership of 14%.

All of this despite huge subsidies, extensions of BART etc.

In the Bay Area we see CalTrain wproposing to invest over $1.5 billion to electrify, and using a model of usage, future ridership projections, that are clearly at odds with what this study shows the future will bring.


3 people like this
Posted by Reality Check
a resident of another community
on Feb 9, 2015 at 2:48 pm

Reality Check is a registered user.

Cheer up Morris, it's not at all discouraging or surprising when you consider that most of the 9 county growth in the last 20 years has been in sprawlburbs not served well (or at all) by transit.

So OF COURSE you'd expect transit mode share to drop.

The overall ridership drop is a result of service cuts and gentrification & associated demographic changes. SamTrans has cut bus service dramatically over the past 20 years ... in no small part due to the heavy financial burden of a bad BART/SFO operating agreement its board foolishly got itself into.

But with Caltrain, you've got ridership skyrocketing from ~20,000 per workday 20 years ago to well over 60,000 per workday today ... and there is huge unmet ("latent") demand which electrification and other improvements (e.g. level-boarding) are urgently needed to help accommodate.


Like this comment
Posted by Barbara Wood
Almanac staff writer
on Feb 9, 2015 at 5:15 pm

Barbara Wood is a registered user.

The lawsuit was filed today. The story is here: Web Link


Sorry, but further commenting on this topic has been closed.

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