Community members meet to discuss Caltrain cuts

February 15, 2011 1:09:28 AM PST
Drastic cuts are coming to Caltrain. More than half the stops between San Francisco and San Jose could be eliminated. Monday night, Caltrain held its first community meeting dealing with the funding problems and the unpopular solutions.

Caltrain is planning to dramatically gut its service along the peninsula. Seven of the 10 stations between San Francisco and San Jose are on the chopping black. Suspending service to all after San Jose's Diridon station is also a proposal.

"I moved in across the street from the San Antonio station so I could have easy access to and from school," said Caltrain passenger Glenn Thomas.

More than 50 people came to the first of four community meetings that Caltrain has planned. Executives say they want to hear what the public wants them to do.

"This is killing us. We don't want to do this. We'd rather not do this," said Caltrain spokesman Mark Simon.

The Tamian station south of San Jose is slated to be closed. Passengers there are furious, but feel powerless.

"It makes it difficult to get around, it makes it difficult to get to work, it makes it difficult really to get anywhere. A lot of us moved out here because we knew there was a station opening up!" said Caltrain passenger Victoria Carmona.

"You wonder what is our voice going to do? If they don't have the money, what are they going to do?" asked Caltrain passenger Nancy Magee.

"A big chunk of Caltrains' budget is paid by the partners out of their own pockets and their pockets are empty," said Simon to the group at the meeting.

Caltrain has no dedicated funding. SFMTA, VTA, and SamTrans are its funding partners. The agency is trying to plug a $30.7 million deficit for fiscal year 2012, which begins July 2. That's when service cuts will take place.

There's more bad news. There will be no more Caltrain weekend service, no holiday trains, no special events or Giants trains. The proposed cuts will reduce their deficit from $30 million to less than $5 million and a 25-cent base fare increase is expected to take care of that.

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