A joint statement issued by seven elected officials calls for letting voters decide on funding for the Caltrain service between the South Bay and San Francisco.
Caltrain has seen ridership drop steeply during the COVID-19 pandemic and there are fears that its financial struggles could halt the service.
Supporters have pinned their hopes of bolstering Caltrain on a dedicated sales tax assessed in San Francisco,
The farebox only brings in 70 percent of its operating costs coupled with annual operating costs from the three member counties, and year to year the riders are at risk of the line shutting down.
San Mateo County supervisors and the San Mateo County Transit District, or SamTrans, which operates Caltrain for the Peninsula Joint Powers Board, have approved putting the measure on November ballots in the region.
But the boards of supervisors in San Francisco and Santa Clara counties and the leaders of the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency and the Santa Clara Valley Transportation Authority also must agree.
The sales tax was initially proposed to fund the electrification of Caltrain, but the agency now needs the funding to keep operating. It said its weekday average ridership, at 65,000 before the pandemic, has dropped by 95 percent during the health emergency.
“While it’s wildly popular, Caltrain could shut down without its own funding,” the officials say in their statement. “To prevent this, the legislature passed a statute to allow the public to decide.
Jack Kulp and Carolyn McArdle talked about it on the air. Listen below...