TA Allocates Funds for Improvement of Caltrain Station

Feb. 9, 2015

The San Mateo County Transportation Authority’s (TA) Board of Directors unanimously approved $49.1 million in Measure A funds to rebuild the South San Francisco Caltrain Station.

The station is one of only four Caltrain stations which still use an older configuration, center boarding platform. At these stations, safety considerations prevent more than one train from using the station at a time, creating an operational bottleneck on the railroad and requiring passengers to cross tracks to board trains.

A wider center boarding platform will improve safety at the station as well as improving train operations throughout the Caltrain system.  A pedestrian underpass is proposed for the station allowing passengers to access trains without crossing on the rails.

The location of the station, under the Grand Avenue overpass and next to freight train tracks, has presented a challenge to any improvement plans. Any design for a new or improved station needed to accommodate the massive supports for the overpass on the west and the freight train tracks on the east.

Moving the station south of its current location allows for a wider center boarding platform as well as additional improvements that enhance the value of the station. The new underpass meets American Accessibility Act standards.  A new parking lot on the east side of the station will facilitate dropping off and picking up employees in the nearby biotech hub and a plaza that connects the station to Grand Avenue and downtown South San Francisco.

In 2014, more than 400 riders used the station on an average weekday, many of them employees in the biotech industry on the east side of the city. This is a 19 percent increase over the previous year. Improved access to downtown South San Francisco creates an opportunity for transit oriented development, which is included in the city’s downtown station area plan.

The total cost of the project is estimated at $59 million. The Peninsula Corridor Joint Powers Board, which owns and operates Caltrain, had contributed $4 million for the design of the project. The city of South San Francisco will contribute $5.9 million. The city also invested $3.3 million to purchase additional property for the project and remediate contaminated soil in the area. Caltrain will pursue other sources of funds to offset construction costs.

The timeline for the construction is dependent on the outcome of negotiations with Union Pacific to resolve issues around the use of the freight tracks. The construction schedule will be timed to coordinate with the electrification of Caltrain.