Caltrain hikes base fare 25 cents
- Published Wednesday, December 31, 2008, by the San Francisco Examiner
Caltrain fare hike kicks off new year
Beginning Thursday, the cost of a one-way Caltrain ticket will
increase by 25 cents.
By Mike Aldax
Got an extra quarter?
You're going to need it to ride Caltrain beginning Thursday, when
the cost of a one-way ticket goes up 25 cents.
The base-fare hike will have commuters paying an extra quarter per
ride no matter how far they travel along Caltrain's 77 miles of
tracks between San Francisco and Gilroy. Rates for daily, monthly
and multiride passes will be adjusted accordingly.
The fare increase, approved in October, will help the transit agency
overcome volatile fuel prices and rising operational costs, said
spokeswoman Christine Dunn. Caltrain covers about 40 percent of its
operating costs with ticket sales. The fare hike will provide an
additional $943,500 through June and another $1.9 million during the
next full fiscal year, Dunn said.
Caltrain, which carries more than 40,000 passengers daily and operates
98 trains on weekdays, uses an estimated 4.45 million gallons of
diesel fuel each year to run the system. A 10-cent increase in fuel
prices costs the agency $480,000 each year, Dunn said.
The proposal to increase Caltrain's fare -- the first since 2007 --
came after last summer's record gas prices burdened the transit
agency's finances. The rail system said it struggled to maintain
service amid record ridership.
Many riders don't seem to mind the fare hike, choosing to see it as
yet another sign of challenging economic times. Caltrain officials
say they had little opposition to the 25-cent increase. Attendance
was low at several public meetings to discuss the hike.
San Francisco resident Carl Pickens said a quarter extra for the trip
to his Redwood City job is "no big deal," particularly as prices for
other public services rise amid the economic downturn.
"I don't mind paying a quarter more if it means the trains come
often," Pickens said.
The new fare hike was the cheaper of two proposals. A second proposal
would have raised fares an additional quarter per zone crossed. That
idea was nixed, however, because it would greatly burden riders
during tough economic times, Executive Director Mike Scanlon has said.
"It's just too much. ... People are broke," he said.
Scanlon said he hoped the new fare increase is reasonable enough to
maintain ridership growth without cuts to service.
Eventually, Caltrain hopes to end its fuel dependency by electrifying
the rail system, a $1.5 billion project slated to be finished by 2015.
It remains unclear, however, how the transit agency will be able to
secure enough money for the project as it braces for massive cuts to
state and federal transit funding. Caltrain has no dedicated funding
source for electrification, officials say.
Another change riders will see in the new year: In early March,
Caltrain will change from a 10-ride pass to an eight-ride format for
administrative reasons. The adjustment will have no effect on costs,
the agency said.
A trip from San Francisco to Redwood City:
Jan. 1: $4.25
Jan. 1: $8.50
Jan. 1: $36.25*
Jan. 1: $29.00*
Jan. 1: $112.75
* The transit agency also approved replacing the 10-ride ticket with
an eight-ride ticket, which will likely take effect in March.