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Coastside Residents React to Possible Closure of Peninsula Corridor Caltrain Stations

The possibility of reductions in Caltrain public transit service impacts Peninsula and Coastside residents alike

The Caltrain Peninsula Corridor Joint Powers Board declared a fiscal emergency today in the face of a $30.3 million budget deficit going into Fiscal Year 2012.

The Caltrain railway serves as a means of public transit for residents of San Francisco, San Jose and the communities spanning the distance between.

Amid dire fiscal straits, the board is considering solutions which include the possible closure of up to seven train stations including South San Francisco, Belmont, San Bruno, and the College Park station in San Jose.

Many Caltrain riders, and other members of the public, attended the Joint Powers Board meeting today to express largely the same message: do not cut service to our communities. They showed up in such large numbers, in fact, that the intended meeting place could not hold them and a larger room had to be acquired. 

Though many believe this is an issue solely impacting inland Peninsula residents, Coastsiders in attendance at today's meeting felt otherwise. 

Pacifica City Councilmember, and former mayor, Sue Digre, was among them.

"It's a quality of life issue, but its also an economy issue," said Digre. "If we cannot get to each other's city, we cannot contribute to each other's economy."

When addressing the local economy in Pacifica City Council chambers, Digre has often referenced the need to bring Peninsula residents "over the hill" to Pacifica to spend their money.

While serving as mayor of Pacifica in 2010, Digre addressing the lack of public transit options in the city.

By Digre's definition, Pacifica's public transit issue is similar to what the Peninsula cities south of Millbrae may face, as SamTrans buses are the only other option to Caltrain's railway service.  

A self-identified "coastal resident," April Vargas, also emphasized that Caltrain cuts will impact all of San Mateo County.

"I live on the coast, and we don't have access to Caltrain but we do realize its importance," said Vargas. 

She served on the committee that oversaw the design features of the soon-to-be finished project. 

Pacifica resident and 2010 Pacifica city council hopeful, Barbara Arietta, addressed the issue of traffic congestion that Caltrain station closures may produce.

By Arietta's calculations, "86,000 plus metric tons are being put on our highways if Caltrain riders are displaced. 

"It's of utmost importance to keep Caltrain," said Arietta.

By declaring a "fiscal emergency" today, the Peninsula Corridor Joint Powers Board bypassed the necessity to develop an environmental impact report required by the California Environmental Quality Act if they decide to shut down stations. 

The Board also retroactively declared a fiscal emergency in Fiscal Years 2009-10 and 2010-11.

Barbara Arietta March 04, 2011 at 07:02 AM
Just want to add a little more info and also a slight correction/clarification concerning the quote attributed as being said by me at today's Caltrain Public Hearing on station closures and reduction of service.... "The 86,000 + metric tons" referred to in the above quote were "metric tons of CO2 emissions released into the atmosphere by additional vehicles being added to the freeways", not the metric tonnage of the vehicles and their drivers on the freeways, per se... If Caltrain shuts down, nearly 40,000 displaced daily Caltrain riders, if traveling via automobile, would increase regional CO2 emissions being released into the atmosphere by 89,850 metric tons or 198,085,342 pounds. Also, the number of vehicles projected to be added to our freeways on a daily basis by the lion's share of displaced Caltrain riders would be the equivalency of 2 and 1/2 lanes of traffic, in both directions...this will affect all of our freeways to one degree or another...which will most definitely affect our regional air quality... It reduces regional congestion by 300 million annual passenger miles... These are not my calculations, but rather statistical information given to me as a participant in the Silicon Valley Leadership Group's "Caltrain Economic Summit" ,which was an "economic think tank" on ways to save Caltrain, held at Stanford University's Economic Research Institute on January 21, 2011. Barbara Arietta Chair- San Mateo County Transportation Authority, CAC
Anastasia Crosson March 04, 2011 at 05:56 PM
Thanks, Barbara. The actual figure is 89,000+ metric tons of CO2 emissions. According to the Silicon Valley Leadership Group's presentation at the Caltrain Economic Summit, held January 1 of this year: "If traveling via automobile, Caltrain riders would increase regional CO2 emissions by 89,850 metric tons or 198,085,342 pounds." For anyone who would like additional information, the leadership group's presentation can be viewed here: http://svlg.org/campaigns/savecaltrain/SaveCaltrainSummit.pdf Anastasia Crosson Pacifica Patch, contributing writer
Barbara Arietta March 15, 2011 at 07:48 AM
Thanks Anastasia for adding the link to the Silicon Valley Leadership Group's presentation...however the date for that presentation at Stanford University was Friday the 21st of January, not the 1st. And, as I originally said at the March 3rd Caltrain JPB Public Hearing, and also in my initial correction to your report, we will be looking at 89,850 metric tons of CO2 being released into the atmosphere if Caltrain passengers take to the freeways...and the equivalency of potentially adding 2 and 1/2 lanes of traffic, in both directions, which would affect all of our freeways to one degree or another...It is of paramount importance that Caltrain be saved... According to the Silicon Valley Leadership Group's presentation, Caltrain reduces regional congestion by 300 million annual passenger miles. My latest information is that we are looking at a short term fix and a long term fix. If the three counties(SF,San Mateo and Santa Clara) and the MTC can cobble something together to get us through the next year or so, that should give "the powers that be" the necessary time to bring about a more permanent, dedicated source of funding for Caltrain, but it will take a lot of people working together to pull it off...keep your hopes up and your fingers crossed... Barbara Arietta Chair-San Mateo County Transportation Authority, CAC
Camden Swita March 15, 2011 at 09:26 AM
Thanks for the additional information, Barbera. It's a clarification, not a correction, as we quoted you stating the tonnage without any metrics, but I'm glad you've chimed in, anyway. What sort of joint effort between the counties do you foresee will lead to less cars on the road?
Barbara Arietta March 15, 2011 at 11:55 PM
Thanks, Camden... The clarification that I was talking about to the JPB was the metric tonnage of CO2 being released into the atmosphere, not the tonnage of "vehicles and drivers" being put on the road, per se, as shown in parentheses in original report.... The correction was in the amount of tonnage...I did not say more than 86,000 metric tons, but, rather,more than 89,000 metric tons. The tonnage as we know is 89,850 metric tons... To keep more cars off the road , we need more trains on the track...but, there are long-term fixes and short-term fixes...It is my understanding that the three counties have jointly approached the MTC to get help in "cobbling something together" for the short term... Important meetings are taking place this month with the MTC and CEO's of the various agencies to save as many trains as possible. Whether they can pull a "rabbit out of the hat", in the telescopic timeframe given to them, either a big one or small one, remains to be seen... Right now, it's too difficult to hazard a guess at what else they are planning for the short run save, other than what they have already indicated...potential service cutbacks, possible station closures, reduction in trains... Adrienne Tissier, MTC Chair, told me that the "cobbling" in the short run , to get us fron "here to next year", is the big challenge...April 7th JPB should reveal just how many cars will be kept off the road and the size of that rabbit... Barbara Arietta Chair, SMCTA/CAC

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