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Caltrain’s board last week voted to place an eighth-cent sales tax on the November ballot, a measure that would provide the San Francisco commuter railroad with a dedicated revenue source.
The revenue measure would be used to preserve service, maintain and expand operations following the launch of electrified service in 2022 and invest in equity polices to make the system more affordable and accessible, Caltrain officials said in a press release.
Currently, Caltrain does not have a dedicated funding source. The rail agency receives more than 70 percent of its funding from fare box revenue, which has been severely reduced in recent months due to a 95 percent ridership decline during the COVID-19 pandemic, Caltrain officials said in a press release.
Caltrain service is being supported by the federal Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act funding, which is expected to be exhausted by year's end. Without new sources of funding, or a significant increase in ridership, Caltrain would need to reduce or suspend service altogether, agency officials said.
“The pandemic has made it clear that Caltrain will require a more diverse set of revenues to survive the impacts of the pandemic and to grow to meet the region’s demands,” Caltrain officials said. “Caltrain’s dependence on fare revenue is not a reliable means of supporting a system of Caltrain’s size and importance.”