Caltrain board votes to declare fiscal emergency

March 3, 2011 2:00:01 PM PST
Severe cuts could be coming to Caltrain. Caltrain's board of directors voted Thursday to declare a fiscal emergency.

Caltrain officials say they have been pleasantly surprised that their passengers are more interested in finding a solution then they are at yelling at people. It's such a hot topic it attracted a standing room only crowd at 10 a.m. on a weekday. Yet no one wants to be talking about this, least of all the Caltrains officials themselves.

"We hate doing it. I mean this is not the business we're in," said Caltrain spokesman Mark Simon.

The proposal includes cutting weekend service altogether and cutting weekday service in half -- only running the trains during peak commute hours.

"I think it's an absolute shame because Caltrain is the backbone of the Peninsula. And if you work in San Jose or San Francisco and you get to your job on time during peak commute hours, you want to use Caltrain and not drive," said Michele Beasley of Belmont.

"I ride Caltrain almost every day and so does my wife. We love Caltrain and it's going to be a big deal if there are service cuts and I'm really hoping there's a budget solution as soon as possible," said Rafael Reyes of San Mateo.

But officials say the proposal that has received the most comments is the idea to close up to seven stations. Belmont is one of the stations on the possible closure list. Most riders find the idea very upsetting, but Aaron Happonstall says he would be willing to drive to the next closest station.

"I wouldn't think it would be a big deal. Honestly, if it cuts costs and saves some money for Caltrains - it's a great system so I wouldn't be too disappointed," said Aaron Happonstall of Belmont.

Caltrains officials say they hope these cuts are temporary. They are looking for long term solutions.

"Caltrain is the only transit agency in the Bay Area that does not have its own source of revenue - permanent dedicated source of revenue, like a tax. And so one of the long term solutions we are going to have to look at is - can we get to the voters and have them provide some money that makes Caltrains future assured," said Simon.

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