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A letter from Caltrain's CEO

This is a very exciting time for Caltrain.

After years of advocacy, planning and work the long-envisioned Electrification of the Caltrain corridor is under construction, with passenger service scheduled to begin in 2022. This investment will improve service for our customers with faster trips, greater frequency and more capacity. It is a transformational moment for the railroad and it is also the first, foundational step in the realization of a larger future for Caltrain.

That future will be defined and guided by the Caltrain Business Plan, and the adoption of a Long Range Service Visions as a part of that plan. The draft staff recommendation for Caltrain’s Long Range Service Vision shows us what this future can look like. The recommendation lays out a vision for a service that triples Caltrain’s current ridership to 180,000 riders a day. It envisions express trains every 15 minutes, comprehensive coverage of local stations and greatly expanded frequencies in the middays, evenings and weekends over the full length of our system. It is a vision for a system with increased capacity, longer trains and level boarding.

The Service Vision is also about more than just Caltrain. Importantly, it pictures a system ready to expand and integrate into a larger regional rail network when the time is right. It connects and weaves together the many rail projects and investments that are already beginning to take shape around us through the work of our local, regional and state partners.

It is a vision that includes the Downtown Extension to the Salesforce Transit Center in San Francisco, potential new rail connections across the Dumbarton Bridge to connect communities across the bay, and the rebuilding of a new Diridon Station in San Jose. It is a Vision that includes expanded electrified service to Gilroy and a shared corridor with High Speed Rail. It is a vision that considers the growth and needs of each of the communities along the Caltrain corridor.

I am very proud of the work undertaken to get the Business Plan this far. It has been an expansive and technically rigorous process that has challenged all of us to ask big questions and think critically about the future of the corridor, and the region. Most importantly, it has been the product of a transparent and collaborative process with our riders, our community and private sector partners, and the public.

As we work to achieve this Vision, the larger Caltrain Business Plan also considers how our organization will need to expand and evolve to deliver a service that meets the needs of our growing region.. To that end, I am very pleased to present you with a detailed organizational assessment that maps out the challenges and issues faced by Caltrain, and lays out options and guidance for the path ahead.

Finally, as we have anticipated and discussed for many years, a necessary step in achieving this Vision and the long-term sustainability of Caltrain will be to secure a dedicated source of funding. Caltrain demonstrates its importance to the region every day through the riders we carry, the communities we connect and the congestion we reduce. The recommended Long Range Service Vision demonstrates the enduring value that we can provide when given the resources to sustain ourselves and grow.

Achieving this ambitious Vision will be challenging, but we can achieve it by working one step at a time. Pending the Board’s adoption of the Long Range Service Vision, staff will work over the remainder of the year to complete the Business Plan and consider the ways we will incrementally deliver and fund this Vision over the next 20+ years.

Thank you all for your support and participation in this process. We are excited to hear your feedback and input as we take this historic first step toward the evolution of the Caltrain system and mobility throughout the Peninsula.

Jim Hartnett, Caltrain CEO

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