Caltrain pitches more-for-less plan 

Starting in January, Caltrain passengers could be paying more for less service, as the transit agency grapples to balance a $12.5 million budget deficit for the upcoming fiscal year.

To help make up its operating shortfall, the agency is considering increasing base fares by 25 cents or zone-by-zone prices by 25 cents. The base-fare increase would be tacked onto all starting costs (a current round-trip ticket within San Francisco has a base cost of $5, while the zone-by-zone fare would add 25 cents each time a passenger traveled into a different zone. Caltrain service is broken down into six zones — from San Francisco to Gilroy — so a person who travels that entire distance would pay an extra $1.25 under the increase.

With the base-fare increase, the agency would net an extra $2 million. Under the zone-fare increase, Caltrain would bring in an additional $2.8 million a year.

Also, the agency is proposing service reductions that would include the elimination of weekend trains and trips to Gilroy, four fewer midday weekday trains and four fewer early morning and late-evening weekday trains.

Collectively, those service reductions would save the agency $1.6 million annually.

If approved, the fare increases would go into affect in January. The service reductions are scheduled to take place in October. Caltrain last raised fares in January 2009.

The agency’s board of directors will vote July 1 on a final budget for next fiscal year, although public hearings on the fare increase and service reductions are scheduled for this summer. Caltrain Executive Director Mike Scanlon said directors could approve a budget that assumes projections from fare increases and service reductions without formally approving those measures.

For the 2011-12 fiscal year, which starts July 1, 2011, the outlook is much more bleak. The agency faces a $35.6 million projected shortfall, and so far there’s no identifiable model to make that up, Caltrain officials said.




Financial picture

$12.5 million Caltrain’s latest projected deficit for next fiscal year

$102 million Total operating budget for Caltrain

$2.8 million Projected revenue from 25-cent zone-fare increase

$2 million Projected revenue from 25-cent base-fare increase

$1.6 million Projected savings from proposed service reductions

Source: Caltrain

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