Transit group pushes to regain train service 

A group of Peninsula city council members on Tuesday stepped up pressure on Caltrain to return stops to stations that have experienced cuts in recent years.

Claiming that the number of stops in San Mateo County has dropped 20 percent since 2000 — compared with a gain of two percent in San Francisco and a loss of 13 percent in Santa Clara County — the group sent out resolutions to all the city councils on the Peninsula on Tuesday asking to support the group, Coalition to Expand Transit Service.

Council members from Burlingame and Atherton — the city of Atherton lost service when the Baby Bullet launched in 2004 — lead the group of more than a dozen council members from varying cities.

Both councils recently adopted resolutions calling on Caltrain to rework its schedule in hopes that stops would be added at Broadway in Burlingame and the Atherton station. Belmont is scheduled to consider a similar resolution in a week’s time.

"We aren’t suggesting adding more stops, but just rearranging stops, varying some from Baby Bullet stations," said Burlingame Mayor Terry Nagel, a member of Coalition to Expand Transit Service.

Adding more stops would result in lost riders and increased operating costs at a time when Caltrain is already struggling to meet its financial obligations, said Richard Silver, executive director of Rail Passenger Association of California.

"[The council members] don’t know what the hell they’re doing," Silver said.

Michael Kiesling, a regular train rider and chairman of the Caltrain Citizens Advisory Committee, said Baby Bullet service has helped increase ridership, improve service and bring in more money.

Indeed, in December the commuter train agency’s average weekday ridership topped 35,000, the highest figure in the 143-year

history of Peninsula railroad, according to Caltrain.

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