Caltrain

Caltrain/Jack Yaco

Caltrain Considers Sales Tax To Fund Service Expansion

Melissa Culross
May 14, 2019 - 10:42 am

Caltrain may be crowded now, but according to agency officials, we ain't seen nothing yet. 

"We're laying out a vision for the agency through 2040 that's projecting a potential 300 percent increase in ridership demand," said Caltrain spokesman Dan Lieberman. 

The system would have to grow to accommodate all those new riders, and Caltrain leadership is considering asking voters in Santa Clara, San Mateo and San Francisco counties to approve a sales tax to fund it. 

The  agency is projecting a massive boost in rider numbers for several reasons. 

"It's looking at a lot of demographic trends, looking at the increase in both jobs centers and population in the Bay Area as well as potential new connections to Caltrain that could open up the service to whole new populations," Lieberman said. 

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Putting it in terms of vehicle traffic, Lieberman described the potential increase on Caltrain demand as "essentially the equivalent of adding eleven lanes to Highway 101."

Caltrain wants to use revenue from a sales tax to help pay for projects like building a downtown extension in San Francisco and adding new passing tracks along the corridor to allow trains to run more often. 

If the agency moves forward with this plan, a sales tax measure could show up on the ballot next year.

Early polling indicates there is support for such a measure, but whether it would actually pass is another question.

Caltrain currently has no dedicated funding source aside from fares.