CalTrain Downtown Extension

JPB Drops Beale Alternative

Article published Spring 1996

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CalTrain downtown SF extension | Electrification of CalTrain

The Beale Street station was eliminated as an alternative for the CalTrain downtown extension in January. The CalTrain Joint Powers Board (JPB) now favors the Transbay Terminal site. This plan would entail demolishing the present bus terminal and locating CalTrain in an underground station along the same alignment and underneath the present bus platforms.

Regional transit advocates strongly prefer combining the bus and train facilities into one station at this site. The JPB's decision will accommodate this option. However, as of this writing, a final decision on the site for the bus facility has not been made.

In October the project reached a milestone with the release of the Design Options Screening Report (DOSR). This report identified eight key decisions to be made on the CalTrain project. These decisions are summarized in the accompanying table which also includes positions taken by PR2000 and the Regional Alliance for Transit (RAFT). At the JPB meeting in December, JPB staff presented their recommendations for the eight decisions.

San Francisco JPB members requested that the decision on siting of the downtown CalTrain station be delayed until the San Francisco Board of Supervisors decided on where to locate bus facilities currently housed in the Transbay Terminal.

At its January meeting, the JPB voted 6-0, with the three San Francisco members abstaining, to accept staff recommendations on the eight questions in the DOSR (see table). Their chief recommendation was to drop the Beale station alternative and to focus solely on an underground 6-track station on the site of the Transbay Terminal. Staff recommendations also included system electrification. As an alternative to full electrification, dual mode operation (electric in the tunnel, diesel everywhere else) will continue to be studied as well.

The JPB's decision in favor to the Beale station alternative in March of 1994 owed greatly to a strong preference for this alternative by the City of San Francisco. PR2000 and many concerned individuals and organizations worked diligently at the time to persuade officials to choose the Transbay Terminal site instead. JPB members who favored a downtown extension recognized that it could be accomplished only on San Francisco's terms.

JPB members, particularly Mike Nevin of San Mateo County, decided this time that their decision should not be held up by San Francisco. This was motivated by the fact that the JPB had already hired a consultant for the project and JPB members' desire to adhere timelines for completing federally and state mandated environmental studies.

On February 15, Committees of the San Francisco Board of Supervisors voted in favor of a plan incorporating the proposed underground CalTrain station at the Transbay site. The plan approved by the committees also calls for relocating the Transbay Terminal bus facilities to a new above ground station nearly two blocks away on Howard Street between Main and Beale Streets.

RAFT strongly opposes the bus terminal relocation, citing advantages both in funding prospects and integration of transit services in a combined facility at the present Transbay Terminal site.

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Last updated: October 27, 1998

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