Caltrain has proposed the closure of 10 stations on the Peninsula rail line, as well as cutting all weekend service and slashing the number of trains running on weekdays in half, restricting service only to peak hours. The City Council approved a letter to Caltrain from Mayor Jac Siegel addressing those cuts on Tuesday.
In the letter, Siegel points out that closing San Antonio Station would making train use inconvenient for 500 riders a day in Mountain View, Palo Alto and Los Altos. But the major focus of the letter is the potential consequences for plans to develop housing and shops near the station. In particular, San Antonio station's existence has helped the city to justify an effort to redevelop nearby San Antonio Shopping Center, Siegel notes. Such efforts "would be jeopardized should Caltrain discontinue commuter rail service at the San Antonio Station," Siegel writes. The city's 2030 General Plan update "proposes greater residential and commercial land use intensities throughout the larger San Antonio neighborhood in part due to its strategic proximity to the San Antonio Station."
Siegel also asks San Mateo-based Caltrain to consider proposals from Santa Clara County's Valley Transportation Authority that could save Caltrain from what's been called a "death spiral." Efforts so far to lobby Caltrain on the VTA's proposals have been unsuccessful.
"We strongly urge the board to fully consider other strategies that could provide financial relief without potentially undermining the future viability of Caltrain," Siegel writes. " Strategies under consideration by the Valley Transportation Authority board of directors include reimbursing right of way funding to the San Mateo County Transit District so SamTrans can increase its funding contribution to Caltrain. These and other alternatives should be fully explored before making drastic cuts to Caltrain services."
VTA board chair and Mountain View council member Margaret Abe-Koga said the VTA board would be deciding what it wants to do to help save Caltrain at its March 3 meeting.