Green Caltrain: VTA board leans toward billion dollar Caltrain package, with bus funding that could result in service cuts
On Friday April 22, the VTA board held a study session on the proposed 2016 transportation ballot measure. The board members supported a spending package that was very similar to the staff proposal, with $1.5 Billion proposed to connect BART to San Jose and Santa Clara, $1Billion for Caltrain improvements, including capacity improvements and grade separations, and $500Million for transit operations (largely bus service), an increase from $450M in the staff report. The final decision is expected in June.
According to preliminary analysis from the VTA Next Network project, the transit operations funding could leave VTA vulnerable to bus service cuts if the agency wants to follow through on its goal to increase ridership. According Next Network analysis, without any additional funding, VTA could provide a stronger frequent network, at the cost of reducing local “coverage routes” which do not have high ridership but provide lifeline service to elderly, disabled, and very low-income users.
According to VTA staff, it would take an additional ~$13 million per year, or $390+ Million over 30 years, to be able to provide the same ridership increase without cutting lifeline services. VTA will be hosting meetings on the Next Network in the coming weeks, including on Tuesday, May 17 at Mountain View Community Center at 201 Rengstorff at 6pm, and one on Wednesday May 18, at Palo Alto Rinconada Library at 1213 Newell Road at 6pm.