The Friends of Caltrain attracted an overflow crowd of 200 grassroots community and business groups and residents to our Caltrain Summit a little over a week ago. Congresswoman Jackie Speier and Sierra Club national executive director Michael Brune came to keynote.
RailPAC donated a generous $500 towards its small budget: thank you so much. You really made it possible for us to offer a pizza lunch so people could stay for the break-out sessions until we adjourned at 2:30. We have worked closely with SVLG and Stanford who also organized a great policy leader summit the week before.
Since then, Caltrain as you know has scheduled hearings to potentially halve its service to peak-hour only, potentially cutting service to many stations as well as reduce early morning/late evening trains when many Silicon Valley workers commute in this 24/7 economy.
Many have been galvanized this last week: over 1000 residents have sent emails to their representatives on their county transit agency asking them to work together with MTC to work on short term and long term solutions.
Santa Clara VTA has quickly responded with a board memo last Thursday outlining some viable options for the coming year, the most promising of which are:
- having the three counties unite to ask MTC to re-direct some or all of the $5.5 million allocated every year since 2008 for Dumbarton Rail operating costs (DB has been “postponed” as you may remember). There is no other Peninsula project benefitting from this operating budget although many Peninsula residents and workers pay bridge tolls.
- VTA making its one-time $7.1 million payment to Samtrans who “saved Caltrain” in 1991 with the right of way acquisition, hopefully with Samtrans agreeing to spend it on Caltrain.
There are probably other short-term solutions that only MTC can help orchestrate, but it will take the political support of all the local elected officials, residents, and commuters to push for this one-year stopgap measure to avert Caltrain crisis for one more year, then to design and put some type of permanent and dedicated funding to the voters.
The Friends Summit is being cablecast this Sunday at 10:30 on Channel 27, I understand, and more information is on the website, friendsofcaltrain.com for people who want to take some action to “save our Caltrain!”
Thank you all for your support!
Former Mayor of Palo Alto
Friends of Caltrain