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Wednesday: Caltrain holding public meeting on closure of Atherton train station

A southbound train pulls into the Atherton train station at approximately 4:40 p.m. on Feb. 22, 2020. Photo by Magali Gauthier.

Caltrain will hold a public hearing to discuss the proposed closure of Atherton's 108-year-old train station at 5:30 p.m. on Wednesday, July 29. Members of the public can access the meeting online via Zoom.

The Atherton station has had steadily decreasing ridership for some years, Caltrain officials said in their statement announcing the meeting.

"Prior to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, the Atherton Caltrain Station only received limited weekend-only service every 90 minutes with an average of 114 passengers per weekend day. Weekday service to the station was cut in 2005 due to low demand," the rail service said.

Integrating the Atherton station into the rail service's electrification project would be difficult given the station's limitations only one train can board at a time. "If the station remains, an upgrade of substantial cost would be necessary to prevent disruption of the expanded service that will come with the electrification of the corridor," the statement said.

In January, the town of Atherton struck a tentative agreement with Caltrain to close the station, subject to a memorandum of understanding (MOU).

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According to Town Manager George Rodericks, the MOU is currently being discussed by the City Council's ad hoc subcommittee and Caltrain over details regarding the closure of the space, including parking, station maintenance and refurbishment, security, fencing and landscaping, and other safety improvements.

Four men wait for their ride to San Francisco from the Atherton train station in 1913. Photo courtesy of the Atherton Heritage Association.

Rodericks said that after closure, the train station space would become part of the town's new civic center project slated for completion in October 2021, while the train station building and parking spaces would remain.

Community members can view the July 29 meeting at zoom.us/j/97368870471 using the webinar ID 973 6887 0471. To access via telephone, dial 1-669-900-9128 and use meeting ID 9736 8870 471.

Caltrain will hold another public hearing about the Atherton train station closure at its board of directors meeting Aug. 6.

Comments may be submitted until Aug. 6 at caltrain.com/athertonclosure, by mail, email or phone.

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Wednesday: Caltrain holding public meeting on closure of Atherton train station

by / Almanac

Uploaded: Tue, Jul 28, 2020, 11:16 am

Caltrain will hold a public hearing to discuss the proposed closure of Atherton's 108-year-old train station at 5:30 p.m. on Wednesday, July 29. Members of the public can access the meeting online via Zoom.

The Atherton station has had steadily decreasing ridership for some years, Caltrain officials said in their statement announcing the meeting.

"Prior to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, the Atherton Caltrain Station only received limited weekend-only service every 90 minutes with an average of 114 passengers per weekend day. Weekday service to the station was cut in 2005 due to low demand," the rail service said.

Integrating the Atherton station into the rail service's electrification project would be difficult given the station's limitations only one train can board at a time. "If the station remains, an upgrade of substantial cost would be necessary to prevent disruption of the expanded service that will come with the electrification of the corridor," the statement said.

In January, the town of Atherton struck a tentative agreement with Caltrain to close the station, subject to a memorandum of understanding (MOU).

According to Town Manager George Rodericks, the MOU is currently being discussed by the City Council's ad hoc subcommittee and Caltrain over details regarding the closure of the space, including parking, station maintenance and refurbishment, security, fencing and landscaping, and other safety improvements.

Rodericks said that after closure, the train station space would become part of the town's new civic center project slated for completion in October 2021, while the train station building and parking spaces would remain.

Community members can view the July 29 meeting at zoom.us/j/97368870471 using the webinar ID 973 6887 0471. To access via telephone, dial 1-669-900-9128 and use meeting ID 9736 8870 471.

Caltrain will hold another public hearing about the Atherton train station closure at its board of directors meeting Aug. 6.

Comments may be submitted until Aug. 6 at caltrain.com/athertonclosure, by mail, email or phone.

Comments

long time resident
Menlo Park: Fair Oaks
on Jul 28, 2020 at 12:18 pm
long time resident, Menlo Park: Fair Oaks
on Jul 28, 2020 at 12:18 pm
17 people like this

When I bought my home in the area, having the train station nearby was an attractive feature. As Peninsula traffic increased, it's value became even more as it made a trip to SF for dinner in the evening easy. And trips down the Peninsula to Mountain View were easy for commuting.

Then came the bullet trains, and the removal of Monday-Friday service, so the only dinner evening left was Saturday, and traffic is light then so it's easier to drive. The press says there is weekend service, but there isn't when it matters: Friday night has no service and that's definitely weekend.

Ridership on this station is low because riders have been squeezed out, and the train only stops at the station at times when driving a car is better. It's a self-fulfilling prophecy that ridership has declined, and it feels like someone is playing the long-game to make it look like the station isn't wanted when it's simply *looks* that way due to the crippled schedule.


Twentse
Menlo Park: Fair Oaks
on Jul 28, 2020 at 6:03 pm
Twentse, Menlo Park: Fair Oaks
on Jul 28, 2020 at 6:03 pm
2 people like this

I second Long Time Resident's opinion.


Eric Smith
Atherton: Lindenwood
on Jul 28, 2020 at 11:43 pm
Eric Smith, Atherton: Lindenwood
on Jul 28, 2020 at 11:43 pm
2 people like this

When you bought your home in Atherton, it was still an affordable (though of course aspirational) place, people walked to and from places, and the train was something people took in larger numbers.
Atherton now is a billionaires haven, and every drives their own car (or is driven!) to wherever they want to go. No one wants to wait for a train once every 90 minutes. And they certainly don't want to mix with the homeless and unwashed masses on Caltrain.
If you want train service to Atherton again, you may need to get your magic wand out and turn the clock back. Maybe then we can all afford to buy a house there.


Martin
Menlo Park: Downtown
on Jul 29, 2020 at 8:44 am
Martin, Menlo Park: Downtown
on Jul 29, 2020 at 8:44 am
4 people like this

Menlo Park station is less than a mile away. Maybe time to convince Atherton to get onboard with bikeshare since an ebike can cover that distance in 4 mins! There, you'll also get access to many more trains and baby bullets. Not to mention reduce the need for so much driving given the high percentage of drivers in Atherton.


thielges
another community
on Jul 29, 2020 at 8:59 am
thielges, another community
on Jul 29, 2020 at 8:59 am
4 people like this

Hopefully whatever is done to develop the Atherton station site does not preclude re-establishing a functioning Caltrain station. There may be changes in the future, increased density around the station site for example, that could make the station viable again.


really?
Menlo Park: other
on Jul 29, 2020 at 9:40 am
really?, Menlo Park: other
on Jul 29, 2020 at 9:40 am
11 people like this

I want a train station but i don't want density housing near it. I want a train station but I won't allow commercial activity in my community that might support it. I want a train station even though the next one is less than a mile away. I want a train station for commuters, even though i just lost all my parking spaces to a new town hall. I want a train station even though there's no substantial ridership........


Mike
Atherton: other
on Jul 29, 2020 at 1:37 pm
Mike, Atherton: other
on Jul 29, 2020 at 1:37 pm
10 people like this

Caltrain does not need Atherton's permission to eliminate service. It has the right to do so, and of course the Town has the right to llitigate to prevent it. Given Caltrain's precarious financial position, I believe we are much better off to accept the numerous improvements Caltrain is prepared to make in exchange for agreement with the Town, and be grateful for them.


Scott Lane
Atherton: other
on Jul 30, 2020 at 8:45 pm
Scott Lane, Atherton: other
on Jul 30, 2020 at 8:45 pm
10 people like this

1: A good portion of Atherton residents are nearer the Menlo Park station than the Atherton station.

2: Eliminating the Atherton train station as a stop will allow a true Quiet Zone through the town. Even if/when quad gates are installed at Watkins, the trains will continue to blow the horn at the station since it technically has a pedestrian crossing in it. Eliminate the station, eliminate the horn for the station.

3: I do think there's a need for a station between downtown Redwood City and downtown Menlo Park, but it should be strategically located near higher density housing/businesses. That's not Atherton.

4: Related to #3, if there's ever commuter rail using the dumbarton corridor, a better location for a station would be north of Atherton: Redwood Junction or Marsh+Bay are potentially better locations for a train station.


Scott Lane
Atherton: other
on Jul 31, 2020 at 9:02 am
Scott Lane, Atherton: other
on Jul 31, 2020 at 9:02 am
24 people like this

A more thing...

While it's good to see Caltrain try to work with the town, it's worth pointing out that it's a bit disturbing to see that Caltrain's main concern about the station be focused on the timetable and not the safety of passengers.

The Atherton train station, in its current configuration, is a holdout station, making it UNSAFE.


rdegolia
Registered user
Atherton: West Atherton
on Aug 7, 2020 at 10:13 am
rdegolia, Atherton: West Atherton
Registered user
on Aug 7, 2020 at 10:13 am
4 people like this

Caltrain wants to shut down the Atherton station because it doesn't make economic sense for Caltrain to incur the cost to make the station safe (eliminate the holdout station configuration) and because there simply isn't sufficient ridership. Caltrain wants to increase efficiency on the line and eliminating a station saves about 5 minutes per trip. In exchange for supporting the closure, Caltrain has offered to install an attractive fence and landscaping (vs a chain link fence) and, most importantly, to install quad gates at Wakins, which will enable the Town to extend the existing quiet zone. Closing the station and installing quad gates would enable Atherton to establish a quiet zone throughout the entire Town. The quiet zone is an enormous benefit for anyone living anywhere near the train line. It also, very importantly, makes the road crossing at Watkins much, much safer. Finally, upon closure, Caltrain would make the station property (one car length between the fence and the end of Caltrain property for the entire area between Fair Oaks Lane and the Town's corporation yard). That is a big deal because it will enable the Town to add about 30 parking spaces and open space to the planned new Town Center. That will be very beneficial to the Town.


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