Why is Caltrain considered a commuter rail

Erin Baldassari reports on new expansion plans for Caltrain in the San Francisco Bay Area as the region anticipates significant population growth in the future and the need for a more extensive transit network. "Caltrain’s vision contemplates BART-like 'show-up and go' service, whisking passengers from San Francisco to Gilroy on trains that run at least every 15 minutes all day long."

Caltrain expects that increasing service frequently and capacity would boost ridership from 65,000 daily riders to 180,000. This would give commuters more travel options and decrease traffic congestion and pollution in the region, say advocates. The agency is also looking at a slew of capital projects, along with the addition of electric trains, which operate faster than diesel trains.

But, says Baldassari, the price tag for these upgrades is high, including $90 million a year in operating subsidies. Possible funding sources include a multicounty sales tax increase and a regional transportation funding measure.

"The region is only going to continue to grow, said Adina Levin, the co-founder of Friends of Caltrain, a transit advocacy organization. So why not aim high, she said, even if the vision isn’t ultimately achieved due to factors outside of Caltrain’s control, such as the fate of high-speed rail."