Caltrain fares set to rise again next month 

Caltrain passengers will soon have to drop another quarter in the bucket.

The transit agency’s officials have issued a reminder that fares will increase 25 cents per zone each way on April 2, a hike that was approved in June by the Caltrain board of directors.

"We want everyone to be aware that it’s coming so that there are no surprises," Caltrain spokesman Jonah Weinberg said.

The increase is expected to bring in an additional $2 million in revenue annually andhelp balance an $80 million budget amid rising diesel fuel costs. Weinberg said public feedback has been somewhat indifferent since the decision.

"There hasn’t been anything negative. I doubt anyone is happy about it, but neither are we," Weinberg said. "A majority of [riders] will not be affected or will be affected minimally. It’s not a very large increase."

The last time fares increased was Jan. 1, 2006, when they went up 25 cents per zone. However, the public felt more of an impact because it coincided with fare escalations at BART.

Last week, Caltrain was on the receiving end of criticism after a group of members of city councils along the Peninsula complained about the lack of stops trains make at certain stations, particularly in Burlingame and Atherton. The group claimed that the number of stops in San Mateo County had dropped 20 percent since 2000.

Elizabeth Sedgewick moved near the Broadway station in Burlingame two months before Caltrain announced it would no longer run trains there on weekdays.

"I’d be happy with taking a price increase if they’d provide more service," she said.

Some passengers said Friday that a price increase is necessary to ensure the service’s survival. More than 32,000 people use Caltrain on weekdays.

"I support whatever it takes to keep it running," said Carolee Wheeler, who travels from Palo Alto to Sunnyvale. "It’s a great resource. People need it. It’s not a luxury."

Ed Greene, of Burlingame, said his employer in Palo Alto pays for his train rides.

"At $3 a gallon, it’s worth it," he said. "My car’s been parked in one spot for the last couple of years."

RISING FARES, CHANGING SCHEDULE

» Ticket prices for Caltrain will rise 25 cents per zone on April 2.

» A daily trip between San Francisco and San Jose will cost an additional $1each way.

» The seven trains that leave San Francisco between 6:25 and 8:25 a.m. will depart either one minute earlier or three minutes later than regularly scheduled departure times.

» More information on time changes can be found at www.caltrain.com.

bfoley@examiner.com

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