News

Legislation introduced to allow Caltrain sales tax

Senate Bill 979 seeks to place measure on ballot to support agency's capital, operating costs

State legislation introduced Wednesday would allow Caltrain to seek voter approval for a new sales tax to help cover capital and operating costs.

Senate Bill 797, introduced by state Sen. Jerry Hill, D-San Mateo, along with several other Bay Area senators and Assembly members, would authorize the Peninsula Corridor Joint Powers Board, which runs Caltrain, to place a one-eighth-cent sales tax on the ballot in San Francisco, San Mateo and Santa Clara counties.

The measure could only be placed on the ballot once the joint powers board gives it two-thirds approval. The boards of supervisors for San Francisco, San Mateo and Santa Clara counties and transportation authorities in the three counties would also have to approve it.

Caltrain currently runs on voluntary contributions from the three counties participating in the joint powers authority, and is the only passenger rail service in the U.S. to be financed in that manner.

SB 797 is intended to end fluctuations in those contributions and establish a reliable funding source, according to Hill.

Caltrain, which carries commuters between Gilroy and San Francisco, is currently operating over capacity and needs funding to meet demands for increased service, he said.

"Our region is an economic powerhouse for our state, but its continued growth is jeopardized if our residents cannot get back and forth to work, school and their families because our main transportation corridor cannot accommodate them," Hill said.

The legislation was introduced with the backing of Peninsula business groups including the San Mateo County Economic Development Association and the Silicon Valley Leadership Group.

"Highway 101 has become so congested that we've changed its name to the 101 Parking Lot," Silicon Valley Leadership Group CEO Carl Guardino said. "This bill would enable voters to dramatically increase Caltrain's ridership capacity, which would be transformative in the congested 101 corridor."

The text of the bill can be found at sd13.senate.ca.gov.

— Bay City News Service

Comments

59 people like this
Posted by enough, already
a resident of Old Mountain View
on Jun 22, 2017 at 9:14 am

Are you effing kidding me? enough with the tax increases already. State taxes, local taxes, they always go up. Vote NO.

Let Carl, Mike and the rich silicon valley types cough up this time.


69 people like this
Posted by Carl G
a resident of another community
on Jun 22, 2017 at 9:17 am

"The legislation was introduced with the backing of Peninsula business groups including the San Mateo County Economic Development Association and the Silicon Valley Leadership Group."

Because our fat cat companies don't want to pay for it.


12 people like this
Posted by Jim Neal
a resident of Old Mountain View
on Jun 22, 2017 at 2:43 pm

Jim Neal is a registered user.

This article appears to leave out some important facts and/or perhaps contains errors. The article states:

"Caltrain currently runs on voluntary contributions from the three counties participating in the joint powers authority, and is the only passenger rail service in the U.S. to be financed in that manner."

If that is true, then what are the huge fares that they charge passengers used for? Caltrain definitely is not a free service!


Also, the article states:

"Caltrain, which carries commuters between Gilroy and San Francisco, is currently operating over capacity and needs funding to meet demands for increased service, he said."

I can confirm that Caltrain is indeed operating over capacity. So how is it that they are losing money, or at least do not have enough money to maintain or expand the system? This is why many people do not want everything to be managed and operated by the government; the fact that they are charging premium prices for a service and still not even breaking even. If Caltrain were run by a private firm, they would have more than enough money to operate, the trains would be less crowded and on time, and everyone would be complaining about how much the executives were making and whether or not it was 'fair'. Instead, we pay premium prices for tickets, ride in trains that if they carried prisoners instead of passengers, would result in ACLU lawsuits; and now we are being asked to pay extra taxes too?

This is ludicrous! It is exactly why I am now driving more. In the future I hope to be able to avoid having to use public transit altogether because of things like this and many other reasons.


Jim Neal
Old Mountain View



11 people like this
Posted by Laura H
a resident of Whisman Station
on Jun 22, 2017 at 3:16 pm

Laura H is a registered user.

@Jim Neal, I agree with the points you make for the most part, but are you sure about this?

"If Caltrain were run by a private firm, they would have more than enough money to operate, the trains would be less crowded and on time,"

That sure isn't how it works with airlines. (except, of course, for the bit about the 8-figure executive pay)

I'm not sure that privatization is either sufficient or necessary for a well-run public transportation system. Many cities have successful, efficient systems that are funded in small part by (affordable!) fares and in large part by public subsidies. A few examples are Toronto, Amsterdam, Hamburg, Zurich, Berne and many others. Our transportation officials might be able to learn a thing or two by looking at how these cities do it.



31 people like this
Posted by Albert R
a resident of Cuernavaca
on Jun 22, 2017 at 4:35 pm

Albert R is a registered user.

No, no, no, no, no. Caltrain is managed by a private company ever since Amtrak lost the contract a few years ago. The counties don't operate the trains. Enough with the endless upward spiral in taxes.


5 people like this
Posted by Jim Neal
a resident of Old Mountain View
on Jun 23, 2017 at 8:32 am

Jim Neal is a registered user.

@Laura - Very good question regarding the airline comparison; however, the airlines have to deal with factors that Caltrain does not, or at least is not affected to the same degree by such as weather, terrorist actions in other countries (or this country), protesters, and air traffic control issues to name a few.

Plus there is the fact that when a private company operates inefficiently, it normally goes out of business or is replaced by a company that has better operations or a better business model. When Government operates something, there is no one to appeal to and nowhere else to go for better service. Think of what is would be like if the only available health care in the US came only from the VA.....


Jim Neal
Old Mountain View


6 people like this
Posted by Max Hauser
a resident of Old Mountain View
on Jun 23, 2017 at 9:21 am

Max Hauser is a registered user.

Jim, I too noticed the considerable fare rise in recent years. But with Caltrain, like many such services -- and you must surely know this -- users' fares pay only a fraction of operating budget -- unlike a typical private business, where "charging premium prices" might be more closely linked to "breaking even." (Yet with Caltrain, the high passenger demand is *why* the service can charge even the fares it does -- you know, price-inelastic demand). There's a long (international) tradition that public transit is publicly subsidized beyond fare collection; it gets cars off the road and all that.

If you want to criticize a Bay-Area public transit agency, start with VTA Light Rail, which is so many things Caltrain isn't (like, laid out not for function but politics and, some say, the real-estate holdings of interested parties; used so far below its passenger capacity as to be nationally famous for that). Or maybe the grandest screw-up example we'll ever have: BART, which proved *more* pricey to operate than private cars, and twice as expensive as buses (concise history at the end of this review: Web Link ).


4 people like this
Posted by Jim Neal
a resident of Old Mountain View
on Jun 23, 2017 at 12:11 pm

Jim Neal is a registered user.

Those are good points Max! However, if Caltrain thinks they can keep raising prices and/or adding taxes, they're mistaken. Right now, it costs me almost twice as much to take the trains as to drive. I'm only still taking them because I'm having a few repairs and modifications done to the cars. After they're done, I'll probably only take the trains if the weather is really bad or there are massive delays due to freeway collisions.

Having to stand up all the way from Mt. View to Berkeley and back is not fun. Then add in the delays, rude/obnoxious/drunk/drugged people and it's not worth it. At least BART can take comfort in the fact that High Speed Rail will soon make BART look like a dream project by comparison.


Jim Neal
Old Mountain View


8 people like this
Posted by Otto_Maddox
a resident of Monta Loma
on Jun 23, 2017 at 3:31 pm

Otto_Maddox is a registered user.

Good lord. Why is this so difficult?

People should pay for the services they use, plain and simple.

I don't use Caltrain. I hate the idea of paying for it.

Charge passengers what is costs. See how easy that is?

We are expected to subsidize everything these days.

Enough is enough.


4 people like this
Posted by omvmyr
a resident of Old Mountain View
on Jun 23, 2017 at 3:33 pm

omvmyr is a registered user.

Bad News for commuters.....
Caltrain parking is rising from $55.00 per month to $82.50 per month.

Good News,.. most RPP program permit holders will opt for a RPP visitor pass (probably $5-$10 per month).

Most will park on View or Bush or Velarde and make my way to the train. Or offer hang tags to friends that commute or need to travel out of town for 3-5 days. Bad time to live near the transit center with all these almost free parking permits handed out by the city to the residents within the residential parking permit area.

Every single family homeowner, PUD, TOD, Condo/apartment dweller would be foolish not to take at least the 2 visitor passes offered (they are cheap!).
Residents can choose to take 2 more permanent permits if they are planning on moving their cars from their driveway or garage and onto city streets.

Expect to see a few RV's too with visitor permits too.

2 hour parking restricted streets can be managed by traffic enforcement with a few extra vehicles and employees. 72 hour parking permits for residents cannot be enforced effectively with a piece of chalk and will take a minimum of 4-5 days to be towed, if ever. Residents need only a permit and a damp towel to enjoy almost free permanent street parking near Caltrain and downtown.

Now the city is going to pay for valet parking. Not sure where the valets will park the cars as there will be no new parking garages and street parking will disappear to residents that can already walk to town.


Sorry, but further commenting on this topic has been closed.

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