Caltrain warns commuter trains could stop running as funding issues arise

Caltrain, the commuter rail that operates from San Francisco to Gilroy, is warning the public that the services it provides are at risk of serious cuts in service or a temporary shutdown because of funding issues.

The transit agency says Tuesday's decision by the San Francisco Board of Supervisors to reject adding a 1/8-cent proposed sales tax to the November ballot could critically impact passenger services.

The coronavirus pandemic plummeted Caltrain's daily ridership. In April of 2019, Caltrain saw roughly 180,000 daily riders on an average weekday. In April of 2020, passenger traffic was down 90 to 95 percent, year-over-year.

In its 2020 adopted budget, Caltrain anticipated $106 million in revenue from riders, in the form of tickets and monthly memberships. That's separate from the $5 million in anticpated revenue from parking fees.

With both of those income streams nearly eliminated, Caltrain is relying on federal CARES Act funding to stay aloat. Caltrain's head of the Board of Directors says his concern focuses on when those federal funds run out.

The transit agency continues the process of completing a $2 billion electrification of its entire rail line -- which won't be impacted either way.