Lost train stop still stinging Broadway 

Nearly 18 months after Caltrain suspended weekday stops at the Broadway station, local businesses are still feeling the effects, merchants say.

In the latest example of a general business downturn in the area, Pisces restaurant, an elegant eatery that occupied the train station, is conspicuously boarded up. Other merchants have seen business sag with the decline of commuters and foot traffic.

"Every business on Broadway has been affected, from the coffee shops to the cleaners to restaurants," said John Kevranian, owner of Nuts For Candy for 13 years.

"It’s the ‘Field of Dreams’ syndrome. If you build it, they will come," said Gerald Weisl, owner of Weimax Wines & Spirits.

Pisces’ former owner, Laurent Marique, declined to comment for this story.

The closure of the station may mean more than just a dip in cash flow. A study last year found that the total worth of properties within a half-mile radius of the Burlingame Avenue train station was about $100 million more than normal because of their vicinity to the station.

Caltrain suspended weekday stops at Broadway in August 2005, when about 200 passengers a day were using it. However, Ross Bruce, president of Broadway’s Merchants Association, said Caltrain gradually reduced its stop frequency in the late 1990s, which led to a shrinking ridership.

"About seven or eight years ago, Broadway had the highest ridership for people who walk to a station," he said. "Twenty-five percent of Burlingame residents live within a half-mile radius to the station. Now they drive."

Information on stop frequency for Broadway over the last 10 years was not immediately available. However, Caltrain spokesman Jonah Weinberg said Broadway could be revived when the rail line goes electric in about seven years.

Mayor Terry Nagel said that while Broadway’s foot traffic and economy have taken "a direct hit," she would prioritize more service for the Burlingame Avenue station — bypassed by the speedier Baby Bullet train — rather than weekday service at Broadway. She has contended that the frequency of stopsin San Mateo County has dipped 20 percent since 2000.

However, Councilwoman Rosalie O’Mahony said she doubts Burlingame is getting short-changed with service. She said if trains are to be more efficient, they need less stops, not more.

bfoley@examiner.com

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