Obama asks Congress for $125M for Caltrain electrification

Funds would come through Federal Transit Administration's Capital Investment Grant Program

President Barack Obama has asked Congress for $125 million in the fiscal 2017 budget for the electrification of Caltrain, U.S. Department of Transportation officials announced Wednesday.

U.S. Secretary of Transportation Anthony Foxx said in a statement that projects like Caltrain's electrification "transform communities" by "improving mobility and access to jobs, education, and other important opportunities for millions of residents."

The money would come through the Federal Transit Administration's Capital Investment Grant Program.

If Caltrain receives the money, it "will have a sizable impact" on the $430 million still needed to pay for electrification, Caltrain spokeswoman Jayme Ackemann said.

Caltrain will also get $73 million that had been allocated in previous years, leaving a deficit of $232 million, Ackemann said.

Last year, the Bay Area Air Quality Management District allocated $20 million to the project, saying it will substantially improve air quality for residents of the Peninsula train corridor.

Electrification is part of a larger Caltrain modernization program that will replace the diesel system with a more modern electric system, according to the Department of Transportation. The project will replace both train cars and infrastructure.

Electrification will allow Caltrain to increase the number of passengers it carries and improve service, Department of Transportation officials said.

A report by the air quality district said Caltrain will be able to run 114 cars per day rather than 92 and reduce emissions by up to 97 percent by 2040.

Besides the funding hurdle, the project is also facing a legal challenge. The town of Atherton and two advocacy groups filed a lawsuit claiming that the environmental impact report for the project was inadequate.

The plaintiffs said the report didn't adequately address the impacts of traffic, station configuration, electricity demand and tree removal.

Ackemann said the lawsuit is in mediation.

Caltrain's ridership was at 58,200 boardings a day in November, according to the Federal Transit Administration. With the new system, boardings may exceed 100,000 per day by 2040.

The total cost of the project is $1.76 billion, FTA officials said.

What is democracy worth to you?
Support local journalism.


7 people like this
Posted by MP Resident
a resident of Menlo Park: Downtown
on Feb 11, 2016 at 10:23 am

It's about time - let's move Caltrain out of the dark ages! It's really the spine of commuter transportation on the Peninsula.

4 people like this
Posted by San Bruno, San Carlos, Belmont
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Feb 11, 2016 at 10:49 am

Thanks, Mr President.

Now... raise it!

I spend occasional nights all over the peninsula, and it's amazing how noisy San Mateo, RWC, Menlo Park etc.. are compared to San Bruno, San Carlos, Belmont.

San Bruno, San Carlos, Belmont are immensely quieter. Traffic also flows much better. Those towns Got It.

I come back here and all I here are horns and gate bells.

Tho... the airplanes are louder up north.

1 person likes this
Posted by YIMBY
a resident of another community
on Feb 12, 2016 at 1:44 pm

Atherton, if you care even one bit about our communities in the Bay Area, stop sabotaging goals that will help regular people like us from getting to work! Stop exploiting the environmental review process to hinder improvements to the environment!

Like this comment
Posted by OBASM
a resident of Menlo Park: Menlo Oaks
on Feb 12, 2016 at 10:06 pm

Now if Obama will just let Loretta Lynch do her job then that would offset a multitude of sins he has committed over the last 7 years.

We want Hillary to live in public housing again but with more spartan living conditions, preferably the USDB in Kansas.

Like this comment
Posted by Red Peter
a resident of Menlo Park: Sharon Heights
on Feb 13, 2016 at 2:27 pm

Thanks obama!

jk to the meme

Really - thanks. Electrification - what a concept.

Like this comment
Posted by Apple
a resident of Atherton: other
on Feb 14, 2016 at 2:55 am


Even if Atherton steps aside, there are two other advocacy groups that would push ahead with this EIR lawsuit. CEQA dictates that anyone can file a lawsuit and cause these delays.

If you want to stop some people from exploiting the environment review process, you need to push the legislature to change the law to prevent this abuse.

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

All your news. All in one place. Every day.

Couple brings Chinese zongzi to Mountain View
By Elena Kadvany | 0 comments | 5,862 views

Don't Miss Your Exit (and other lessons from an EV drive)
By Sherry Listgarten | 7 comments | 1,581 views

Goodbye Food Waste!
By Laura Stec | 4 comments | 1,349 views

"Better" Dads and "Re-invigorated" Moms: Happier Couples
By Chandrama Anderson | 0 comments | 1,112 views

Bobby in Naziland: A Tale of Flatbush
By Stuart Soffer | 2 comments | 507 views


Register today!

On Friday, October 11, join us at the Palo Alto Baylands for a 5K walk, 5K run, 10K run or half marathon! All proceeds benefit local nonprofits serving children and families.

Learn More