The Citizens Environmental Council’s Board of Directors has endorsed Measure RR on the November 3 ballot, which would produce a dedicated income stream to support Caltrain.
Caltrain service is an essential component of the Peninsula’s rapid transit system, keeping thousands of cars off the road on the Peninsula commute corridor, but its funding has always been fragile, and reduced ridership due to COVID-19 has brought Caltrain financing to a crisis point. Plans were in place and progressing to improve Caltrain service and increase frequency through electrification, but without more funding we face the possibility of an actual shutdown.
Seventy per cent of Caltrain’s funding comes from rider fares, with the remainder of costs covered by donations from the transit agencies of San Francisco, San Mateo and Santa Clara Counties. With no dedicated funding stream this financing has always been fragile, and during the pandemic it has reached a crisis state. Ridership has been down as much as 95 percent, and the other agencies that support Caltrain are also in dire financial straits.
Measure RR would levy a 1/8 cent sales tax in San Mateo, San Francisco and Santa Clara Counties expressly to support Caltrain operations. It would help Caltrain survive the current crisis, reduce the burden on partner transit agencies, and allow Caltrain to improve service when the pandemic eases, the economy rebuilds and traffic increases. A shutdown of Caltrain, or reduced service, can only put more cars on the road and more greenhouse gases and other pollutants into the atmosphere. Caltrain is long overdue for stable funding. CEC urges voters to vote “yes” on Measure RR as the best way to protect and improve rail service on the Peninsula