Published Friday, May 7, 2010, by the Peninsula Daily News
Caltrain releases budget but still has balancing to do
By Mike Rosenberg
San Mateo County Times
Caltrain officials on Thursday outlined the struggling agency's spending plans for the fiscal year that begins in July, but they are still trying to figure out how to balance the budget.
In a presentation to the board of directors, Deputy CEO Gigi Harrington said the agency faces a $12.5 million gap for the next fiscal year, a deficit that will jump to $38.9 million in July 2011.
Officials say they will need to cut service to make up a chunk of that difference and since April have been studying whether to eliminate midday, weekend and weeknight trains.
But they have yet to determine how much money each option would save and how many riders would be lost, and are waiting until they have more details to propose any specifics.
Caltrain officials are also looking at cutting early morning service and halting holiday trains.
They say they could also save $700,000 by ending service to the Gilroy extension and another $670,000 by shutting the ticket offices at stations in San Francisco and San Jose.
In addition, they may study whether to increase fares, although officials said that would be unlikely for the coming year.
The cuts will occur gradually over the next two years because the subsidies Caltrain receives from its three partners -- San Francisco Muni, SamTrans and Santa Clara VTA -- will drop over that span.
The three counties had historically provided about 40 percent of Caltrain's $100 million budget but plan to "wean" themselves off the rail agency to deal with their own problems, said CEO Mike Scanlon.
SamTrans faces a $28.5 million deficit out of its $135 million budget and may have to cut service to balance its books.
Muni plans to cut service by 10 percent, and VTA will have a $40 million budget gap for the fiscal year after next.
The agencies expect to cut 35 percent of their Caltrain subsidies for the next fiscal year, or $14 million, and in July 2011 Caltrain expects the contributions to drop by up to 70 percent.
"It's a two-year methadone program where we take half this year and half next year," said Scanlon, who is also the chief of SamTrans.
Caltrain officials already reduced the original projected deficit of $23.5 million by using a $5 million state grant and cutting $6 million in spending.
[BATN: See also:
Caltrain faces struggle to survive as member agencies pull funding
Caltrain ridership down 1.3% for March; huge cuts proposed
Caltrain survival in doubt after 50% service cut next year
Letter: Counties must help Caltrain obtain dedicated funding
Caltrain to again declare fiscal emergency to speed service cuts
Caltrain says survival depends on HSR-funded electrification
Caltrain projections show electrification essential to survival
Column: Saving Caltrain in best interests of all; Peninsula HSR
Caltrain riders hope devastating service cuts don't materialize
Caltrain riders try to avert huge service cuts as new blog launches
Column: Why Caltrain is an orphan & 5 myths about Caltrain
Comment: Will Schwarzenegger's war on transit destroy Caltrain?
Caltrain funding crises may force move to commute-only service
Caltrain electrification EIR OK delayed for NIMBYs. PCL attorney
Caltrain crisis has officials eying new sources for operating cash
Caltrain delays electrification OK due to veiled lawsuit threat
Caltrain goes broke; will likely cut weekend, night, midday trains