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Caltrain set to adopt new farebox goals
January 03, 2013, 05:00 AM By Bill Silverfarb Daily Journal staff

The Peninsula Joint Powers Board is set to adopt a new farebox recovery rate goal for Caltrain today to bring it more in line with transportation industry trends.

The current recovery goal is between 38 percent to 50 percent for the agency’s approximate $111 million budget.

The board is expected to hike the goal to between 45 percent to 65 percent today.

Riders have increasingly supported Caltrain’s coffers since 2004, when fare revenue was just more than $19 million or 30 percent of the transit agency’s then $63.8 million operating budget.

In fiscal year 2011-12, riders spent nearly $59.9 million riding the trains, about 58.6 percent of the agency’s $102 million operating budget.

The agency’s operating budget has increased by 76 percent since FY 2004 from about $63.8 million to about $111 million for FY 2012-13.

But rider contributions have increased by 216 percent over the same period from $19 million in FY 2004 to a projected $60 million for FY 2013, or about 54 percent of the agency’s operating budget.

The agency’s other sources of income include taxes and contributions from its three partners, the counties of San Francisco, San Mateo and Santa Clara. But SamTrans, the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency and the Santa Clara Valley Transportation Authority have all decreased their contributions to Caltrain in recent years, causing the agency to declare fiscal emergencies at least twice.

The JPB will also hear ridership numbers for November today.

Caltrain’s ridership in November exceeded last year’s totals for the same month by 12 percent although it fell short of October’s numbers, the best month ever for the commuter rail line.

The agency’s average weekday ridership in November was 47,326, up more than 5,000 passengers a day compared to November 2011, according to a staff report the Peninsula Corridor Joint Powers Board will hear today.

In October, Caltrain set a new all-time high for weekday ridership at 51,716, the third time in 2012 the agency topped the 50,000 mark on an average weekday in a month.

Ridership has now trended upward for 28 straight months.

Total ridership in November was 1.2 million, an 11.4 increase over last year’s numbers and shuttle ridership is also up for November by 18.7 percent.

When the JPB took over the operation of Caltrain in June 1992, average weekday ridership was 20,161. Since then, ridership has increased nearly 150 percent. Farebox revenue is also up by 14.4 percent for November from $4.6 million in 2011 to about $5.3 million in 2012, according to the staff report.

The board will reshuffle today and honor outgoing Chair Adrienne Tissier, who helped secure funds for Caltrain’s $1.5 billion modernization effort that will ultimately make the corridor compatible with the state’s high-speed rail project.


Bill Silverfarb can be reached by email: silverfarb@smdailyjournal.com or by phone: (650) 344-5200 ext. 106.


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