Last week, Gov. Jerry Brown signed a $108 billion state budget that includes a $1.7 billion investment in public transportation and transportation improvements and lays the framework for additional transportation funding in the future.
These new programs offer Peninsula communities an unprecedented opportunity to secure investment in our region’s most critical infrastructure improvements and expand Caltrain to accommodate population and job growth, improve air quality and reduce traffic congestion.
The Fiscal Year 2014-2015 budget appropriates funding to transit-related programs: $25 million for transit operations, $25 million for transit and intercity rail, $130 million for housing and sustainable communities, $200 million for low carbon transportation, and $250 million for high speed rail.
The long-term Cap and Trade program will begin in Fiscal Year 2015 and allocates percentages of the cap and trade revenues to statewide transit programs. Specifically, 20 percent for transportation, affordable housing and sustainable communities strategies, 15 percent for transit, 40 percent for low carbon transportation, natural resources and energy programs, and 25 percent for high speed rail.
Caltrain is well positioned to use these funds towards vital improvements that will reduce regional traffic congestion and greenhouse gas emissions while increasing capacity on a rail service that is overcrowded and is straining at the seams.
With over 50,000 weekday riders, Caltrain connects San Francisco, San Jose and South Santa Clara County with rail service that has fueled job and economic growth in one of the country’s most dynamic and important regional economies. After more than three years of consecutive monthly ridership increases, however, demand for Caltrain service has outgrown the system’s capacity. Ridership on peak-hour trains is well over 100 percent capacity and ridership continues to grow, month-by-month, at a record setting pace.
The Caltrain Modernization Program will transform the Caltrain from a diesel-based service to an electrified rail system. A modernized Caltrain will feature high-performance electric trains that enhance capacity and allow the system to deliver cleaner, quieter, faster, more frequent service to the region and eventually will prepare the corridor to accommodate California’s planned high-speed rail system.
Through electrification, Caltrain ridership is projected to more than double to 111,000 daily riders. Greenhouse gas emissions would be reduced by 177,000 metric tons, vehicle miles traveled would shrink by 619,000 miles and billions of dollars in economic value would be created including nearly 100,000 new jobs.
“Thanks to Governor Jerry Brown, State Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg and Pro Tem elect Kevin de León, Assembly Speaker Toni Atkins, California State Transportation Agency Secretary Brian Kelly, and other key legislative leaders, California now has a long-term plan for Cap and Trade expenditures that addresses the funding needs of critical state, regional and local public transit services so that we can improve the transit network and get more people out of their cars,” said Michael J. Scanlon Executive Director, Peninsula Corridor Joint Powers Board. “The resources allocated to the Peninsula will be used for our most pressing and immediate needs: modernizing Caltrain service and continuing to improve SamTrans bus service. Through these efforts we will reduce greenhouse gas emissions and take vehicles off already congested roads.”