With soaring mass transit ridership and growing traffic along the San Francisco-Silicon Valley corridor, the project to electrify and modernize the Caltrain commuter rail system cannot come soon enough. So, it was welcome news that the San Mateo County Transit District (SAMTRANS) recently released the draft environmental impact report for the project. Electrifying and modernizing Caltrain was among the Bay Area Council’s top policy priorities in 2012 and we were instrumental in convening key local and regional transportation leaders to secure the $1.5 billion in funding for the project.

Electrifying and modernizing Caltrain will allow it to run more trains, helping it keep pace with ridership that is expected to climb from the current 55,000 riders a day to 69,000 in 2019 when the project is scheduled to be completed. In addition to the transportation benefits, including providing cleaner, quieter trains, the Bay Area Council Economic Institute estimated in a 2012 study that the project would generate economic benefits of $2.5 billion and create the equivalent of almost 9,600 jobs. (Read the full report here.) In the meantime, the Council is reviewing the environmental report and expects to weigh in during public review and comment period which is scheduled to close April 29. To engage in the Council’s transportation policy work, please contact Vice President Michael Cunningham.

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