Governing Caltrain in the age of electrification

Image from SPUR.

Image from SPUR.

Last week Tuesday at SPUR HQ in San Francisco, at an event co-sponsored by Friends of Caltrain, a set of international and regional experts discussed different scenarios for the governance of Caltrain in the age of electrification.

Electrifying Caltrain promises to create even stronger financial performance, with higher ridership and relatively lower operating costs, and the potential for more coordinated service. Meanwhile, there are risks. The Downtown Extension to Transbay, which could greatly increase San Francisco ridership, is not nearly fully funded. Caltrain electrification gets half of its funding through the High Speed Rail project, which is facing legal risks.

To take advantage of the opportunities and reduce the risks, transit riders and people with responsibility for the transit system often suggest making changes in how Caltrain is governed.  Caltrain is going through a strategic planning process to set the stage for the coming decade, so it seemed like a good time to have expert education on what these governance options might do.

Ratna Amin, Transportation Policy Director at SPUR, put the governance questions into a regional perspective.

The region is planning for major population and job growth. Building more roads and freeways won’t solve traffic congestion, and auto-dominated transportation system is a major contributor to climate emissions.

One of the big barriers to expanded transit use is a fragmented system.  The fragmentation extends beyond the factors that riders can see: capital planning, funding, land use planning and other administrative responsibilities are hampered by the system’s fragmentation.

Continue reading on Green Caltrain.

Written by Adina Levin

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