Update: On November 3, 70% of voters from San Francisco and the South Bay rescued Caltrain by voting yes on Measure RR. Passing RR means thousands of teachers, nurses, and essential workers can get where they are needed most. It also means Caltrain can now provide faster, more frequent trains with better connections to local transit; thousands of good-paying jobs—all while reducing air pollution.
The break down of results by county includes:
- Santa Clara County passed RR with 64.42% voting yes;
- San Francisco passed RR with 73.96% voting yes;
- And San Mateo County passed RR with 71.67% voting yes.
Before the pandemic hit, Caltrain took four freeway lanes of cars off the road every day, carrying people between San Francisco, Santa Mateo, and Santa Clara counties. With COVID-19, it faced serious risk and potential shutdown due to the loss of riders and the fares they paid that covered 70% of operations. Passing Measure RR has rescued Caltrain, ensuring that thousands of teachers, nurses, and essential workers can get where they are needed most.
As a resident of San Francisco, Greenbelt Alliance’s Deputy Director, Sarah Cardona, made the case for why voters should say yes to RR to save Caltrain, and in turn, invest in the Bay Area’s environment, equity, and economy in her recent piece in the San Francisco Chronicle.
Keeping Caltrain rolling down the track will slash climate-changing carbon emissions now and in the future. Pre-COVID, Caltrain removed 400 million driving miles per year from the roads. This will grow by about 240 million with improvements funded by the tax, removing 110 additional metric tons of carbon emissions each day.
It’s important to consider the long term benefits of Measure RR as well. The funds from RR will pay for more frequent all-day, all-week service, making it useful for more people taking all kinds of trips in addition to commuter trips at rush hour. It will also fund cleaner and quieter electric trains and more affordable and accessible service.
While Caltrain is a critical link in the Bay Area transportation system, it has never had dedicated funding, resulting in a periodic financial crisis. Saving Caltrain now fixes this problem for the next generation with Measure RR establishing a 30-year one-eighth cent sales tax in the three counties Caltrain serves, which includes oversight and audits, providing approximately $100 million annually for Caltrain.
Caltrain is essential for climate SMART affordable housing. Earlier this year, the Caltrain Board of Directors unanimously approved a highly anticipated policy requiring at least 30 percent of homes built on Caltrain land—not used for railroad operations or improvements—to be affordable.
While a sales tax is regressive, the tax will fund unprecedented equity and connectivity policies and programs, providing access to Caltrain for a greater diversity of people across the income spectrum.
Greenbelt Alliance is thrilled that Measure RR passed! This is a big step in creating a more resilient and equitable future.