Silicon Valley Leadership Group may be full-throated in their support of a San Jose ballpark, but their key issue this year appears to be saving Caltrain. The transit agency is dealing with a $30 million deficit in the next fiscal year’s budget. As expected, the remedy comes in the form of service cutbacks. Service would be eliminated on weekends and middays on weekdays. Also gone would be service to Gilroy and dedicated Giants service.
For several years, Caltrain has been running special trains going to AT&T Park for day games, and two extra trains coming back south after every game (day or night). Around 5% of fans take Caltrain every home date, so a midseason dropoff in service, whether it’s the special trains or weekend service in general, is going to be extremely jarring. Public transit usage for the ballpark is at around 34-41% currently, a steady rise over the last decade.
Today, SVLG had the first of many “summits” to figure out how to preserve service. This one was held on the Stanford campus. Next weekend (1/29), a public session will be held in San Carlos at samTrans headquarters. Much of the shortfall comes from lower contributions by the three member transit agencies that make up the Caltrain Joint Powers Authority: SCVTA, samTrans, and Muni. Caltrain can always raise fares, but even that will only go so far.
I’ll be at the session next Saturday, and if worse comes to worse this summer, I’ll probably head out to China Basin to see how bad things get. Fans won’t be expected to stay away, instead they’ll drive.