Caltrain electrification EIR underplays environmental benefits

While the premise of Environmental Impact Reports is to disclose the negative environmental impacts of projects that might harm the environment, the most notable information in the EIR for Caltrain electrification is how it might benefit the environment.

Caltrain electrification is expected to increase ridership. By doing so, it will decrease vehicle miles travelled and greenhouse gas emissions.  The improvements are forecast to start in 2019 when electrification is planned to go live, and to escalate in 2040 by which time the downtown extension to Transbay terminal is expected to be implemented.

Image from Green Caltrain.

Image from Green Caltrain.

However, the EIR does not analyze a set of measures that could significantly increase environmental benefits.   One glaring gap is that schedule scenario assumes that in the 2040 period Caltrain will run only 2 out of 6 peak hour trains all the way to Transbay terminal, where there are more jobs nearby than the rest of the line put together.  It wouldn’t cost more to run the trains to Transbay, and Caltrain has said that there aren’t current technical limitations that would prevent them from running all the trains to Transbay. So there isn’t any good reason to underestimate the environmental benefits of the Downtown Extension project.

There are some other options that Caltrain omits, because they are only analyzing the projects for which they currently have funding.

Continue reading on Green Caltrain.

Written by Adina Levin

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