SAN FRANCISCO, Calif. /California Newswire/ — Today, San Francisco Mayor Edwin M. Lee, San Jose Mayor Chuck Reed and Bay Area officials applaud the draft regional agreement with the California High Speed Rail Authority on the $1.5 billion electrification of Caltrain on the Peninsula corridor as a strategic early investment in a blended high speed rail system on the Peninsula Corridor that will connect San Jose and Silicon Valley to high speed rail’s northern terminus at the new Transbay Transit Center in San Francisco.
“For California and for the Bay Area to remain global economic engines, we need to continue our investment in a sustainable transportation network that will create jobs, support innovation, bring travel and tourism, and cut pollution and dependence on foreign oil,” said Mayor Lee. “Electrifying Caltrain as an early investment and extending Caltrain into the heart of downtown San Francisco at the new Transbay Transit Center are essential for the success of high speed rail and the future economic growth of our region.”
“We appreciate efforts to continue studying alternatives that will allow early investment in projects in the Bay Area, such as electrification in the corridor,” said San Jose Mayor Chuck Reed. “Improving the connections between our State’s economic and tourist centers will create jobs and benefit the entire high-speed rail system.”
This agreement among Bay Area transportation agencies including MTC, the California High Speed Rail Authority, the Peninsula Corridor Joint Powers Board, the San Francisco County Transportation Authority, the San Mateo County Transportation Authority, Valley Transportation Authority, the City of San Jose, the City and County of San Francisco and the Transbay Joint Powers Authority will bring $1.5 billion to electrify the Caltrain system, including $700 million of early investment from new State funds. Caltrain has sought to electrify the service for almost 25 years, but has never before had the funding. With $700 million of new State money and a regional commitment, the project can finally get done.
The document reflects a Bay Area agreement on how to proceed with rail improvement and was developed with input from more than a half-dozen Bay Area public agencies and reflects feedback from the communities they serve. It also formalizes support for a blended high speed rail/Caltrain system, closing the door on the notion of a full four-track system that was opposed by local communities.
Electrifying Caltrain will:
· Reduce noise and air pollution;
· Reduce travel times and allow Caltrain to add more service;
· Reduce operating costs and stabilize Caltrain’s operating budget;
· Provide the momentum upon which to build the Downtown Extension to the Transbay Transit Center; and
· Provide the foundation upon which to build the blended system upon which future CHSRA trains can operate.
“Electrifying Caltrain has been a priority for many Peninsula communities for over a decade and this agreement will finally provide the resources to make it happen,” said Redwood City Councilmember Jeff Gee. “For the first time, we have an opportunity to truly advance improvements that provide Peninsula commuters with faster, quieter, more frequent service to more stations along the corridor.”
“We need to take advantage of this opportunity to make critically-needed upgrades to the Caltrain system. Caltrain already helps improve air quality and reduces traffic congestion by providing Peninsula workers with an affordable, reliable commute alternative,” said Daly City Councilmember David Canepa. “Electrifying the system will radically enhance those benefits and will help improve our regional economy by creating thousands of desperately-needed jobs for local workers.”
“Caltrain service is critical to Peninsula cities and the electrification project will help ensure the future viability of the system,” said San Carlos Mayor Andy Klein. “The agreement to invest early in electrification will help us realize dramatic regional environmental and economic benefits while also limiting future improvements to only those that are needed to support blended Caltrain and HSR service on primarily a two-track system.”
Caltrain serves a corridor of unparalleled economic productivity and innovation. Ridership has increased for 18 consecutive months, but electrification is required to support expanded service and to meet the needs of workers and employers.