On the eve of construction, the Trump Administration has dealt a crippling blow to the Caltrain Electrification project, the Bay Area’s most critical transportation investment. The Federal Transit Administration (FTA) has deferred its decision to execute a $647 million grant agreement with Caltrain until Trump’s FY 2017-2018 budget is released, further delaying the project after a two-year intensive evaluation that recommended funding the project. Caltrain has already secured $1.3 billion in local, regional, and state funding for the project, and awarded a construction contract in September. The FTA’s deferral would cause Caltrain to miss its March 1st deadline to issue a Notice to Proceed, requiring the agency to start the bidding process over again. If the Trump Administration ultimately funds the project, the delay would still result in costlier bids and create a gap in funding, potentially killing the project.
The Trump Administration is waging a proxy war on Caltrain due to Republican opposition of California’s High Speed Rail project. After the LA Times published another misleading hitpiece on the High Speed Rail project, California’s Republican delegation wrote a letter to the FTA asking for the deferral of funding to Caltrain until an audit of High Speed Rail is completed – even though Caltrain’s efforts are fully independent. While Trump recently lamented the country’s lack of high speed rail service and has touted plans to invest in infrastructure and job creation, the FTA caved to California’s Republican delegation and jeopardized the project along with 9,600 jobs in over a dozen states.
Defunding Caltrain Elecrification is an attack on the Bay Area’s economic growth. Despite chronic underfunding, growth in the tech industry has fueled substantial bidirectional ridership gains in recent years: Caltrain ridership has nearly doubled since 2010 to over 65,000 riders per day, and many trains are now overcapacity. Electrification would enable faster, more frequent, and more reliable ‘BART-like’ service on the Peninsula, along with the future Downtown Extension (DTX) to the Transbay Transit Center.
Urgent action is needed to save Caltrain Electrification and 9,600 jobs from needless political bickering. Contact your senators and representatives to voice your support for Caltrain:
• Elaine Chao, Secretary of Transportation: (202) 366-4000
• Senator Kamala Harris: (415) 355-9041
• Senator Diane Feinstein: (415) 393-0707
• Contact your local house representative
• Sign the Whitehouse.gov petition