Before the COVID 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. Now it faces serious risk and potential shutdown due to the loss of riders and the fares they paid that covered 70 percent of operations. Voting Yes on Measure RR will rescue Caltrain now so that thousands of teachers, nurses, and essential workers can get where they are needed most.
For the long term, Measure RR funds 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. To save Caltrain now and fix the problem for the next generation, Yes on Measure RR will establish a 30-year one-eighth cent sales tax in the three counties Caltrain serves with oversight and audits, providing approximately $100 million annually for Caltrain.
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 would grow by about 240 million with improvements funded by the tax, removing 110 additional metric tons of carbon emissions each day.
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 would fund unprecedented equity and connectivity policies and programs, providing access to Caltrain for a greater diversity of people across the income spectrum.
Greenbelt Alliance urgently supports Yes on Measure RR for today’s crises and for a more resilient and equitable tomorrow.