The absurdity of this situation is beyond comprehension.
There is a $30 Million deficit. Meanwhile, Caltrain is spending $165 Million to put in three grade separations and elevate the San Bruno Station.
Grade separations are certainly a helpful thing. But what irks me is this. According to the 2010 ridership stats San Bruno station is used by ~380 riders daily. Meanwhile Caltrain cancelled trains 236, 237, 256, and 257 – trains that carried roughly 1100 passengers daily. Why is it that the riders of those trains are expected to use a different train, but the people of San Bruno – who have voted against Caltrain with their feet – are not expected to use a different station? Millbrae Caltrain/BART is 2 miles from San Bruno station and has a lot of parking. San Bruno BART is 1 mile away from San Bruno station.
Eliminate stations – not trains. Run faster trains, attract more riders – the same fact sheet indicates that the average Caltrain trip is twenty miles. Running with fewer stops – permanently – provides a superior service on the whole that will attract more riders and removes the cost of maintaining, upgrading, and rebuilding the underutilized stations.
This is already proven – since the introduction of limited and bullet service, the stations with bullet service have seen an increase in usage, and the ones without have had decrease in service – it is not far fetched to conclude that the people living near Hayward Park (current ridership 227 per day) simply started using Hillsdale instead – the extra time to the train more than made up for by a faster trip to their destination.
Of course, we then get into the issue of “Capital vs Operating” budgets. If Mike Scanlon is really worth $350,000 per year, he can work on solving that problem. He has the access – US Congresswomen, Mayors, and CA assemblymen are showing up to these meetings.
On another note, SamTrans – also run by Mike Scanlon – has reduced funding to Caltrain last year and is threatening another reduction. This for service that is inferior and in many ways duplicative to Caltrain and BART. Why? Occam’s razor says – if SamTrans funding were cut, there would be no “Friends of SamTrans” with Congresswomen and CEOs showing up to save the system. Given the choice of cutting the budget of SamTrans and losing the money for good, or cutting Caltrain and enlisting high-powered allies to get more money – Scanlon made the obvious choice, except from the standpoint of the ridership.