CalTrain Proposes New Fare Increases For Cash Customers

In an continuing effort to balance its budget, the commuter train that runs through San Mateo County is proposing changes that would take place July 1.

Caltrain is proposing to increase fares for commuters paying cash that would become effective exactly one year after their last round of fee hikes in 2011.

If the fare increases are approved by its board of directors, Caltrain would:

  • Increase the cost of paper one-way and zone upgrade tickets by up to 25 cents per zone and day passes by up to 50 cents per zone. The cost of a one-way ride would remain the same for those using a Clipper card. Monthly Pass prices would also remain the same.
  • Eliminate the 8-ride ticket
  • Increase the cost of the Go Pass, an employer-sponsored pass, by $10 to $165, and setting the minimum level at $13,750.
  • Lengthen the sales period for monthly transportation passes and parking permits from the 9th of the month to the 15th of the month.

As an example of the increase, round-trip travel between San Jose and San Francisco would go from $17.50 to $19.50.

Caltrain last raised its fares July 1, 2011, adding 25 cents to the base fare charged to ride the Peninsula commuter rail service.

Noting the 2011 increase, Caltrain's website stated "The Caltrain Board of Directors approved the 25 cent increase after extensive public input on resolving the rail system’s current and ongoing fiscal problems. Members of the public, including customers, frequently commented that they would be willing to pay more to ride Caltrain if the increased fares helped to resolve the immediate budget crisis.

The newly-proposed increases - if they take effect - would be the seventh time Caltrain has raised fares in the past seven years.

Caltrain claims 40,000 customers use the rail service every weekday, but that fares paid by passengers only cover about 44 percent of the cost of providing the service.

Earlier in 2011, the Caltrain Board rejected a proposal to cut weekday service from 86 trains to 48 and close up to 10 stations.

Two public meetings will be held on the Peninsula to gather feedback about the newly suggested increases:

  • Jan. 25 at 6 p.m.
    City Council Chambers, 500 Castro St., Mountain View
  • Jan. 25 at 6 p.m.
    Caltrain Administrative Office, 1250 San Carlos Ave., San Carlos

A public hearing will be held:

  • Thursday, Feb. 2, 2012 at 10 a.m.
    Caltrain Administrative Office, 1250 San Carlos Ave., San Carlos

Comments also can be e-mailed to changes@caltrain.com; sent by regular mail to District Secretary, Caltrain, P.O. Box 3006, San Carlos, CA 94070; or telephoned to 1.800.660.4287 (TDD for hearing impaired only 650.508.6448).

Correction: The article previously misstated the amount of a round trip ticket from San Francisco to San Jose would increase from $25.50 to $28.50. The current cost is actually $17.50, and it would increase to $19.50.

Tim January 21, 2012 at 04:36 AM
What they should do is what the MTA does with its Metro North and Long Island Railroad. They sell tickets at vending machines and ticket booths but also trust their conductors to handle cash and sell tickets on board the train at a 50% mark-up. Two conductors go though the train and check/sell tickets after every couple stops. This Caltrain proof of payment system is a joke.
Tim January 21, 2012 at 04:37 AM
This isn't New York City. It would not be profitable for them to run a five car "drunk" train from SF at 2:30am.
Heidi Beck January 21, 2012 at 07:42 PM
There probably isn't demand for 24/7, but I really wish the trains ran more often during the day. If you don't have a typical work schedule, this makes it hard to take the train -- outside of traditional commute hours, the trains run only every hour. I think this discourages a lot of people from taking the train. If people knew they wouldn't have to wait a full hour if they barely miss a train, ridership would probably increase.
Heidi Beck January 21, 2012 at 07:50 PM
I've been using Caltrain since 1980 -- they used to be very aggressive about checking tickets. Now, I rarely am asked to show my pass. There is one female conductor who is very good with fare evaders -- some of whom were pretty nasty characters. I've been impressed with her being able to handle these belligerent guys in such a calm, no-nonsense and effective way.
Vanessa Castañeda January 21, 2012 at 08:53 PM
@ tim lol More like the train for people who don't like to battle with parking in the city. It's killer trying to find a place to put your car. @heidi Too right. I've been stuck at a station in the past after barely missing one. I literally ran after it, knowing that it would be forever until the next one came. (At least it would feel like forever.) @chris They still don't ask everyone for tickets. I say this as a person who doesn't look like she has a lot of upper body strength. (:


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