Present, Future looking brighter for Caltrain

Present, Future looking brighter for Caltrain

The Board, which owns and operates Caltrain, approved a budget proposal for Fiscal Year 2013 and a framework for future operating budgets.

Caltrain’s three partner agencies have agreed to contribute $33.5 million to the Fiscal Year 2013 operation budget: SamTrans - $14 million; San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency - $5.8 million; and Santa Clara Valley Transportation Authority - $13.7. In the current fiscal year, the partnership contribution is $25.4 million.

Budget deliberations for subsequent fiscal years will include changes in the formula used to determine how much each partner will pay toward the operations of Caltrain. VTA also has agreed to discuss resumption of the full cost of operating service to Gilroy.

Caltrain’s latest ridership and revenue numbers also are good news for the agency: In spite of the continuing flat economy, total ridership for August is 1,252,825, 13 percent higher than August 2010. This is an all-time high, surpassing the previous record of 1,245,443 set in July 2008; ridership has increased when compared to the previous year for 13 consecutive months. Fare box revenue also is up 15 percent.

In addition to persistent high fuel prices, Caltrain officials attribute the increase in ridership its efforts to attract new riders:

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- Bike ridership has increased due to additional capacity. At the beginning of summer, Caltrain completed a project to ensure that every train is equipped with two bike cars.

Since 2008, Caltrain has increased on-board bike capacity by more than 50 percent; 70 percent of all trains are now able to accommodate up to 80 bikes.

- Caltrain’s weekend service is a popular option.

In January, Caltrain introduced weekend Baby Bullet service. . Ridership on weekend Baby Bullet trains, as well as the local trains scheduled before and after them, have seen a 30 percent boost in ridership since the beginning of the year.

- In spite of fare increases, ridership continues to increase.

Beginning Jan. 1, Caltrain fares increased 25 cents for each zone, with multi-ride tickets and passes adjusted accordingly. The increase was approved to close a $2.3 million gap in the Fiscal Year 2010 operating budget.

Caltrain raised fares again on July 1, adding 25 cents to the base fare.

Caltrain has raised fares more than 57 percent since 2005.

In addition, the August expense report shows a 5.6 percent decrease in expenses, primarily attributable to reductions in operating and administrative expenses.

In what might be a harbinger of things to come, shuttle ridership is up 33 percent from August 2010. Caltrain partners with employers to provide shuttle service from Caltrain stations to the major employment sites. The increase in shuttle ridership is directly connected to an increase in local jobs.

The ridership and revenue reports are included in the Caltrain board agenda, which is posted on the website: www.caltrain.com

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