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Caltrain negotiations on track
January 05, 2011, 04:29 AM Daily Journal staff report

Michael Costa/Daily Journal Caltrain workers are currently working on a contract with Amtrak which is set to expire in June.

The Peninsula Corridor Joint Powers Board has received five competitive proposals to operate and maintain its Caltrain rail service as its contract with Amtrak is set to expire in June.

The cost for the basic service plan with Amtrak has creeped up 14 percent from $45.9 million in fiscal year 2007 to $53.8 million in fiscal year 2010, said Caltrain spokeswoman Christine Dunn.

The transit agency’s overall fiscal year 2010-11 budget, approved in July, is about $100.9 million but is projected to drop by $30 million in the next budget cycle as contributions from SamTrans, Santa Clara County’s Valley Transportation Agency and the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency are expected to be slashed by half next year.

Caltrain lacks a dedicated funding stream and relies on contributions from the three county transit agencies for survival.

Caltrain cut four weekday trains, eliminated station agents and increased zone fares by 25 cents to help trim more than $2.3 million from this year’s budget.

Amtrak employs 438 people under its contract with Caltrain with 80 of them earning $90,000 a year, according to Caltrain documents. Caltrain has no control over salaries, however, as they are negotiated between Amtrak and rail unions.

The cost ranges for the five competitive proposals, which also includes Amtrak, have yet to be disclosed as Caltrain evaluates them, Dunn said. The proposals will not become public until one is approved, Dunn said.

But cost, Dunn said, is not the deciding factor in determining who will operate the rail line.

Caltrain hopes to conclude negotiations by late April and present a recommendation to the JPB in May, Dunn said.

Caltrain will stay with Amtrak on a month-to-month contract until November, when a new service contract should be in place, Dunn said.

The current contract with Amtrak started in 2001 and was extended three times, in 2005, 2007 and 2009. Amtrak has controlled the contract since 1992.

In the meantime, the San Mateo County Transit District has posted executive and employee compensation for all of its 667 employees on its website. The district oversees SamTrans, Caltrain and Redi-Wheels. To see the pay schedules visit

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