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All aboard for the last stop at Atherton's train station

A man disembarks from a train at the Atherton station on Dec. 13, the last day the station was open. Photo by Olivia Treynor.

It was the end of the line for rail service in Atherton last weekend. The final train stopped in town on the evening of Sunday, Dec. 13. Caltrain opted earlier this month to discontinue service in town in favor of nearby Menlo Park and Redwood City stations, which have much higher ridership and where denser developments are projected to generate higher levels of future demand for rail service.

The Atherton City Council voted to shut down the historic station at the end of October because of low ridership over the years and a desire to safeguard the town from future legislation similar to the recent Senate Bill 50, which would have required cities to allow high-density housing development near public transit.

"I have very mixed reactions to the Caltrain decision to close the Atherton station and to stop scheduled stops in Atherton after 158 years," said Council member Rick DeGolia in an email. "On the one hand, it is sad that Caltrain has chosen to close the station due to low ridership because the station is a real asset to Atherton, and Atherton has been involved with the train for more than 150 years. It is sad to see the elimination of a train stop that is so convenient. On the other hand, time creates change and with the center of business moving from San Francisco to Silicon Valley and especially with the growth of online commerce, the train has been less used by Atherton residents and it is time to move on."

"It is sad to see the elimination of a train stop that is so convenient. On the other hand, time creates change and with the center of business moving from San Francisco to Silicon Valley and especially with the growth of online commerce, the train has been less used by Atherton residents and it is time to move on."

-Rick DeGolia, Atherton Councilmember

Crews will install fencing this week to prevent access to the tracks, said Dan Lieberman, Caltrain public affairs specialist, in an email. Caltrain employees will remove the concrete center platform soon after the closure, according to the rail service's website. Work is expected to be complete in the summer of 2021.

Before the COVID-19 pandemic, Caltrain only scheduled limited weekend-only service every 90 minutes at Atherton's station, drawing an average of 114 passengers per weekend day, according to Caltrain. Weekday service to the station was cut in 2005 by Caltrain, citing low ridership.

A conductor boards a southbound Caltrain at the Atherton station on its last day of rail service on Dec. 13. Town officials and Caltrain inked an agreement to end use of the station after 158 years. Photo by Olivia Treynor.

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The Caltrain Board of Directors voted to close the station on Nov. 5, while the same day county transit board officials approved allocating $4.13 million to help close the station.

It will cost $600,000 to close the station and install temporary fencing, according to Caltrain, and an estimated $5.8 million for Watkins Avenue crossing safety improvements. Other site improvements and an access study will cost around $400,000. The $4.13 million is coming from Measure A transit funds and will partially fund these projects.

The initial costs of demobilizing the station, which is anticipated to be completed in February, and installing temporary fencing will be paid out of the operating budget of the 2021 JPB, Peninsula Corridor Joint Powers Board, which owns and operates Caltrain and consists of representatives from San Francisco, San Mateo and Santa Clara counties, according to a Caltrain staff report. Other major costs of the proposed actions, which are expected to total $6.2 million, will be funded by a combination of Transportation Authority funds and grant sources.

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All aboard for the last stop at Atherton's train station

by / Almanac

Uploaded: Fri, Dec 18, 2020, 10:11 am

It was the end of the line for rail service in Atherton last weekend. The final train stopped in town on the evening of Sunday, Dec. 13. Caltrain opted earlier this month to discontinue service in town in favor of nearby Menlo Park and Redwood City stations, which have much higher ridership and where denser developments are projected to generate higher levels of future demand for rail service.

The Atherton City Council voted to shut down the historic station at the end of October because of low ridership over the years and a desire to safeguard the town from future legislation similar to the recent Senate Bill 50, which would have required cities to allow high-density housing development near public transit.

"I have very mixed reactions to the Caltrain decision to close the Atherton station and to stop scheduled stops in Atherton after 158 years," said Council member Rick DeGolia in an email. "On the one hand, it is sad that Caltrain has chosen to close the station due to low ridership because the station is a real asset to Atherton, and Atherton has been involved with the train for more than 150 years. It is sad to see the elimination of a train stop that is so convenient. On the other hand, time creates change and with the center of business moving from San Francisco to Silicon Valley and especially with the growth of online commerce, the train has been less used by Atherton residents and it is time to move on."

Crews will install fencing this week to prevent access to the tracks, said Dan Lieberman, Caltrain public affairs specialist, in an email. Caltrain employees will remove the concrete center platform soon after the closure, according to the rail service's website. Work is expected to be complete in the summer of 2021.

Before the COVID-19 pandemic, Caltrain only scheduled limited weekend-only service every 90 minutes at Atherton's station, drawing an average of 114 passengers per weekend day, according to Caltrain. Weekday service to the station was cut in 2005 by Caltrain, citing low ridership.

The Caltrain Board of Directors voted to close the station on Nov. 5, while the same day county transit board officials approved allocating $4.13 million to help close the station.

It will cost $600,000 to close the station and install temporary fencing, according to Caltrain, and an estimated $5.8 million for Watkins Avenue crossing safety improvements. Other site improvements and an access study will cost around $400,000. The $4.13 million is coming from Measure A transit funds and will partially fund these projects.

The initial costs of demobilizing the station, which is anticipated to be completed in February, and installing temporary fencing will be paid out of the operating budget of the 2021 JPB, Peninsula Corridor Joint Powers Board, which owns and operates Caltrain and consists of representatives from San Francisco, San Mateo and Santa Clara counties, according to a Caltrain staff report. Other major costs of the proposed actions, which are expected to total $6.2 million, will be funded by a combination of Transportation Authority funds and grant sources.

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