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Sales tax would be 'game changer' for pandemic-hit Caltrain, board chair says

Original post made on Sep 3, 2020

With few riders and ongoing tensions over its governance, Caltrain is asking voters to approve an eighth-cent sales tax measure in November. What does it mean for Caltrain's future, and what are the stakes for San Mateo County?

Read the full story here Web Link posted Wednesday, September 2, 2020, 2:53 PM

Comments (8)

12 people like this
Posted by CyberVoter
a resident of Atherton: other
on Sep 3, 2020 at 12:22 pm

CyberVoter is a registered user.

Caltrain should fix its cost structure & slash unnecessary projects before asking Peninsula residents (who are already in personal financial difficulty) to subsidize their bureaucracy and personal visions. This tax will be a VERY hard sell. Many, many other public services (education, roads, pubic safety, fire protection, COVID services, etc.) are ahead of them in need & value.

They should reallocate the remainder of the $2 Billion "Electrification Project" and create a "sustaining" budget. Please get your "house in order" before asking the over taxed residents to pay for a totally inefficient transportation system

3 people like this
Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Menlo Park: Park Forest
on Sep 3, 2020 at 12:55 pm

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

Getting the necessary votes for this tax at a time that few people are using the train and few people plan on using the train in the near future would require an incredible act of faith by the voters.

It is the right thing to do but the timing is horrible.

6 people like this
Posted by [email protected]
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Sep 3, 2020 at 3:43 pm

[email protected] is a registered user.

Caltrain has not had a permanent funding source. San Mateo County passed a sales tax measure that provided funding to purchase the rail Right-Right-Of-Way and capital improvements. The San Mateo County Transportation Authority was created to administer the sales tax funds. Within three years there were sufficient funds to purchase the Right-Of-Way. Measure A allocated and prioritized specific safety improvements, including elimination of the hold out configuration for all stations. Now Caltrain is reneging on this commitment to eliminate Atherton’s holdout and installation of the Watkins Avenue quad gates, unless the town agrees to permanently close the rail station, the oldest drop station in the entire state. Caltrain has systematically taken all possible steps to reduce our service. The had promised restoration but now are breaking that promise. When government agencies can not be trusted to keep their promises the public should not support additional tax measures until prior promises are honored. Trust needs to be restored before approving new tax measures. Atherton residents have paid over $10 million in sales tax over the past 20 years, would continue to pay these taxes, and receive no service. This is wrong!!

3 people like this
Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Menlo Park: Park Forest
on Sep 3, 2020 at 4:07 pm

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

Malcolm is, as always, precisely correct.

Unfortunately after Malcolm left the council the effective partnership between the Town and CalTrain was replaced by an adversarial one. When there is such an adversarial relationship there is no trust and good things seldom happen.

One more reason to bring in new council members.

5 people like this
Posted by Menlo Voter.
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Sep 3, 2020 at 9:05 pm

Menlo Voter. is a registered user.

We are living in a new reality. We have learned that it isn't necessary for people to go to an office to work. Facebook isn't going to have anyone coming back until a year from now at the earliest. I hear Google is the same. And even then the talk is that there will be far fewer employees actually working in the offices. And Pinterest just paid $98 million to get out of a lease in SF. Caltrain is becoming unnecessary.

2 people like this
Posted by Reality Check
a resident of another community
on Sep 4, 2020 at 3:17 pm

Reality Check is a registered user.

Temporarily lightly-used Caltrain is just as "unnecessary" as the temporarily lightly-used highways running up and down the Peninsula ... traffic congestion and demand for train travel will eventually come back with a vengeance, guaranteed ... oh, and if Caltrain is unnecessary, then someone forgot to tell MTC, SMCTA and Caltrans, because they are presently building out a new Hwy 101 "Express" (variable congestion-dependent toll) lanes the length of San Mateo County for a half-billion dollars. And the latest news is that MTC is now having thoughts of permanently converting all lanes of Hwy 101 and many other Bay Area highways to variable toll lanes (aka "congestion pricing").

Another point: Caltrain has already decided to use 100% green & renewable (carbon emissions-free) electricity to power its new electric trains ... we need such alternatives both for the sustainability, vitality, and livability of the housing and businesses all along the Caltrain corridor and so that people and families do not need as many cars and to drive everywhere all the time for everything ... saving precious road & lane space for those that still need to use it for certain times or trips.

Measure RR, the Caltrain-saving and -improving 1/8¢ sales tax will allow for the Peninsula to get the quieter, modern, clean, electrified, BART-frequency (or better) train service (using state-of-the-art Swiss trains now under construction) that it has long deserved ... linking BART at Millbrae with the BART station VTA is planning to build at San Jose's Diridon Caltrain station for a fraction of the cost or time it would take to replace Caltrain with BART.

Rejecting Measure RR would be repeating the same colossal mistake of the SMCo. Supervisors declining to join the BART District over 50 years ago. BART-like service linking SJ and SF along the length of the Peninsula cities that literally grew up around the 157-year old Caltrain line is long overdue. Let's not be short-sighted and blow it (again!) due to nitpicking (there will always be some nits for nitpickers to pick!) or a temporary pandemic.

2 people like this
Posted by JRN
a resident of Menlo Park: Felton Gables
on Sep 7, 2020 at 8:41 am

JRN is a registered user.

Mismanagement always turns to the "taxpayers". Caltrans refuses to change there methods, measurements and motivations. There whole program is based on taxpayer handouts.

Like this comment
Posted by Menlo Voter.
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Sep 7, 2020 at 9:53 am

Menlo Voter. is a registered user.

Reality check:

I don't think these changes are temporary. As I said we are experiencing a new reality. People working at the large businesses in this area don't need to go into an office any more. They don't need to commute. They don't need to ride a train. Pinterest would not have paid $89 million to get out of a lease if they thought they were going to need that space. They don't. And the people that would have been occupying that unneeded space won't need to commute or ride a train. Multiply that over all of the tech businesses in the area and you can see how little Caltrain will be needed.

The highway projects were in the pipeline and started before the pandemic hit and businesses figured out they don't need everyone in an office building. Being in the pipeline the state isn't going to just stop that work.

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