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Caltrain hikes base fare 25 cents

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  • 12/31 SF Examiner
    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
    Message 1 of 1 , Jan 5, 2009
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      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.

      Fare Increase

      A trip from San Francisco to Redwood City:

      Previously: $4
      Jan. 1: $4.25

      Previously: $8
      Jan. 1: $8.50

      Previously: $34
      Jan. 1: $36.25*

      Previously: None
      Jan. 1: $29.00*

      Previously: $106
      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.

      Source: Caltrain
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