On January 31, the State of California announced that it is awarding $367 million to Caltrain to finish its electrification project, which is scheduled to be completed in Fall 2024. The funding for Caltrain complements $43 million in federal funding, adding up to the full $410 million gap needed to complete electrification, which will enable faster, more frequent service and less air pollution and carbon emissions.
In addition, the new round of state Transit and Intercity Rail Capital Program provides funding for other major Bay Area projects, including:
$375 million to the BART Silicon Valley project, helping VTA (which is leading that project) to access critical federal funds. The state award depends on VTA receiving the federal funding.$250 Million for BART’s Core Capacity Program to enable 30 trains per hour, with 10-car trains, travelling in each direction through the Transbay tunnel by 2030.
Longer runway before the fiscal cliff
This funding will extend Caltrain’s budget runway before it hits the “fiscal cliff”, which could have hit as soon as this year. The new funding extends the runway by 2-3 years, now bringing Caltrain’s financial runway closer to BART which is predicting a fiscal cliff in 2025.
The financial crisis is looming because Caltrain ridership fell steeply during the pandemic and is among the slowest in the region and the country to regrow. The Caltrain board will start to discuss ridership regrowth strategies at its board meeting on Thursday, February 2.
The Caltrain board will grapple with its budget challenges at an upcoming board workshop in March – the date has not yet been announced.