Caltrain may declare a fiscal emergency

May 5, 2009 8:23:02 AM PDT
Tens of thousands of commuters may soon be paying more to get to work in the morning; Caltrain is the latest Bay Area transit agency to consider declaring a fiscal emergency.

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Caltrain is a million dollars in the hole so far for 2009, and as it searches for ways to fix the deficit -- it might just mean the 40,000 or so daily passengers will have to dig a bit deeper in their pockets to help fill the gap.

Ticket prices already rose by 25 cents in January -- the base-fare increase was to help pay for extra fuel costs, but it hasn't been enough to balance the budget.

Caltrain is now considering raising fares again and cutting service to help offset a deficit that's projected to hit $10 million dollars by next year. If Caltrain declares a fiscal emergency, then this would allow it to impose fare hikes and service cuts without undergoing lengthy environmental-impact reviews.

The transit agency blames some of its financial complications on the recession:

  • A drop in ridership because of Bay Area job losses has cut into fare revenue;
  • Volatile fuel costs;
  • And significant cuts to state transit funding, and funding from Caltrain's member counties have hurt the bottom line.

    Caltrain plans to hold a public forum on possible revenue measures on May 19th and will reveal more details on various proposals then.

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