VTA Attempts to
Slow Caltrain
Electrification
In This Issue:
No. 2002-3
July-August 2002
Ways to Get Around on Weekends
without Caltrain ..... page 2
Q&A on High Speed Rail ..... page 3
Candidate Statements .....page 3
Note: On the Topic will return in the
next issue
BayRail Alliance
http://www.bayrailalliance.org
Formerly Peninsula Rail 2000
Governor Helps Launch CTX
The Santa Clara Valley Transportation
Authority (VTA) declared on short notice in
late May that they would not support
funding Caltrain electrification this fiscal year.
This signals a reversal of their earlier support
for Caltrain electrification.
At the June 6 Caltrain Joint Powers
Board meeting, VTA sought approval for a
competing 2003 capital budget proposal,
citing financial troubles caused by the
economic recession and a significant drop
in sales tax revenue. The original proposal
supported by San Francisco and San Mateo
counties requested the electrification monies
as part of an $82.7 million capital budget,
with each county underwriting $6.9 million
in "local match" funding. The proposal by
VTA, on the other hand, was identical to the
original proposal but omitted $8.6 million in
funds for preliminary engineering and
environmental clearance work for
electrification. Under VTA's plan, each
agency would reduce its contribution to
Caltrain by $2.9 million for this fiscal year.
The economic recession of 2001 and
2002 has prompted VTA, as well as Caltrain
and many other agencies, to reduce service
and raise fares. However, VTA has placed
other capital projects, such as the Fremont-
San Jose BART extension, on the fast track.
This emphasis would indicate that political
considerations, rather than financial
difficulties, prompted VTA to undercut
electrification.
(Above) State Senator Jackie Speier speaking at the CTX groundbreaking ceremony
with a new Caltrain low-floor railcar in the background. Other speakers include (left
to right) Governor Gray Davis, Secretary Maria Contreras-Sweet, MTC Commissioner
Sue Lempert, and JPB chair Mike Nevin. (Photo: Margaret Okuzumi)
Red and white balloons festooned the
4th and King station in San Francisco as
regional and state officials, Governor Gray
Davis among them, gathered on June 28 to
celebrate the kick-off for Caltrain's CTX
construction project.
The "Baby Bullet" program, adding two
extra tracks at three segments along the Caltrain
line, is the centerpiece of the $110 million CTX
construction project. The project includes
additional work to improve train speed, safety,
and rail infrastructure. The construction will
take place mostly on weekends for the next 22
months, shutting down the entire line during
construction times. During the shutdown,
contractors will install centralized traffic control,
rebuild three stations, replace old bridges, and
add express tracks.
A highlight of the groundbreaking
ceremony was the inaugural ride of Caltrain's
first low-floor railcars. Caltrain purchased the
cars its future Baby Bullet service. One of
them was freshly painted in red and grey
Caltrain colors. Projected to begin operation
in late 2003, the new Caltrain super express
train service will cut the travel time between
San Francisco and San Jose nearly in half by
[See
Groundbreaking
, page 4]
[See
VTA
, page 5]
BayRail Alliance, in partnership with
Tau Delta Phi, an honor student organization
at San Jose State University, will host a forum
on high-speed rail on Wednesday,
September 25. The forum will take place on
the San Jose State University campus and
will feature key high speed rail stakeholders,
including Rod Diridon, the chairperson of
California High Speed Rail Authority. Goals
of the forum include informing members of
the community about the current high speed
rail proposal, facilitating a dialogue between
the public and key stakeholders, and
BayRail Plans High Speed Rail Forum
building political momentum for the
statewide system.
BayRail is pleased to join with Tau
Delta Phi to host the forum. Tau Delta Phi
has produced several well-attended on-
campus forums in previous years.
Staging this large public forum will
present challenges for BayRail and Tau Delta
Phi. BayRail seeking volunteers to help with
a variety of tasks. If you are interested in
being a part of the effort, please email Andy
Chow, head coordinator of the forum, at
ac-netj@altavista.net.