Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Sean Elsbernd, Caltrain JPB Chairman, on service cuts

I emailed Scott Wiener - who is running for Supervisor in San Francisco's District 8, about the Caltrain cuts. Scott is sharing his campaign headquarters with FIX MUNI NOW which is the organization pushing Prop G which entails some reforms to MUNI's labor negotiation rules. FIX MUNI and Prop G are in large part the work of Sean Elsbernd - the District 7 Supervisor (D7 is Park Merced, West Portal, etc...)

Sean Elsbernd is also the Chairman of the Caltrain Joint Powers Board - the group overseeing Caltrain Staff.

Scott Wiener read my missive on the Caltrain cuts and forwarded it to Sean. I gave Scott some background as to how important Caltrain is, that there is no excuse for Caltrain not to close a 2.3 Million dollar budget gap, and that they should be creative in finding more revenue and reducing costs. This of course including getting over the last hump to solid bike capacity and weekend limited/express trains.

Here is my petition for limited/express trains on the weekend! Please sign it and pass it on!

Here is Sean's response - unedited.

Unfortunately, there is no easy answer to this one. Feel free to pass on this
e-mail, cut and copy parts of it, or just toss it.

Caltrain is the forgotten step child of Bay Area Transit. Unlike every other
regional public transit system, Caltrain has no dedicated source of revenue.
60% of itsoperation costs are covered by fare revenue (which, as an aside, is
actually a tremendously high level of fare box revenue) and 40% is covered by
the 3 member agency (MTA, SamTrans, and VTA) contributions. For years, those 3
contributions have been a steady source of funds. This year, however, SamTrans,
in order to balance their budget, reduced their contribution to Caltrain. Once
they did that, the MTA followed suit. The VTA has not done it yet, but its a
given that they will next fiscal year.

So, long story short, the financial troubles of the MTA, SamTrans, and the VTA
are the cause of Caltrain's poor fiscal condition. I do believe that this year
we will be able to make it through the budget without some of the draconian cuts
listed below, except for maybe the Gilroy cut - that service could very well be

My very real worry is July 1, 2011 and forward. If financial projections hold
at all accurate, Caltrain will fall off the cliff next year.

We are looking at all kinds of other revenue ideas, and I will absolutely pass
on the suggestion of a limited line on the weekends - that's a new one to me.
The issue of bikes on the train has been discussed at nearly every meeting I've
attended. If it was as a simple as simply removing some seats to make room for
my bikes, that would have been done already. It, of course, is not. We have
doubled the amount of space available for bikes in the last 12 months, and
continue to do more. The number of bicyclists who are "passed up" has dropped
significantly. We are working on it.

Shirley Johnson pointed out that Sean's numbers were a bit off. The farebox recovery is 42%, the bike capcacity was increased 39%.

1 comment:

295bus said...

I think CalTrain still doesn't get it that they've lost a lot of potential riders over the years by bumping bikers. I mean, c'mon, 99% of the public are *not* hardcore bike/transit nutcases, and if they're bumped once are going to be pretty pissed, and if they're bumped twice are going to say "f*ck it, I'm going back to driving".

They've probably lost potential riders who need a bike on the work end of their commute, but never even tried the train because they just *heard* about bumping.

If CalTrain can actually get to a point where bikes are basically *never* bumped, and get the word out, they may find some latent potential risers emerging from the woodwork.