Letter: Unlike BART, Caltrain lacks dedicated tax or funding source
- Published Saturday, August 28, 2010, by the San Mateo Daily Journal
Letters to the Editor
Why BART succeeds and Caltrain fails
Some people think that if BART is extended, Caltrain's funding problem would go away. The fact is that there's not enough funding for transit on the Peninsula. No matter what type of trains you run.
Like Caltrain, BART requires tax subsidy for operation. The reason you don't see BART having the same financial situation is because BART collects a 50 percent sales tax (which was imposed by the state Legislature) in San Francisco, Alameda and Contra Costa counties for operations. Caltrain does not directly collect taxes but rather rely on the three local transit agencies.
BART could go around the Bay, but will not do it with the funding that Caltrain currently receives. BART would likely require more than a 50 percent sales tax for construction and operation. On the other hand, if Caltrain receives a 25 percent sales tax, Caltrain could run trains as frequent as 15-minutes every day, along with improved shuttle service. With Caltrain, we can still keep the Baby Bullet and have direct service to AT&T Park.
We need to understand that BART and Caltrain operate in different areas. Half of BART's ridership crosses the Bay, where the only competition is the Bay Bridge that requires a toll. Caltrain rather has to compete with two freeways (Highway 101 and Interstate 280).
At the end, what riders want is a well-functioning transit network. Both BART and Caltrain still have ways to go to reach their potential. Portraying the issue as a competition won't help us get there.