Caltrain has dropped its Go Pass pricing for 2021 and 2022 and will add electronic bike lockers at its stations, citing COVID-19 and chances to improve sustainability.

The original Go Pass prices for the 2021 calendar year were $342 per pass. The prices will now be $192.50 per pass, a discount due to uncertainty over COVID-19 restrictions, lower commuting demand and the shorter length of the 2021 pass. 2020 Go Passes are eligible through March 2021. 2021 Go Passes will start in April 2021 and go through December 2021, only nine months.

As an incentive for current customers to renew Go Passes, Caltrain also voted to have customers who get a Go Pass in the last six months of 2021 be eligible for a 25% discount to the 2022 Go Pass. The price will go down from $359 to $269.25. The 2020 Go Pass program has generated $30.1 million in revenue and is an important part of future Caltrain revenue.

The Caltrain Go Pass program is not for individuals but for companies, colleges and residential complexes to buy annual unlimited-ride passes for all eligible employees and students.

“Companies have been able to purchase Go Passes for part-time employees in the past at a campus, but what we are doing is allowing them to actually not have to include those employees in the count and then use unused stickers for those employees. That’s really what this change is about,” said Caltrain official Dereck Hansel.

At the Caltrain Jan. 7 board meeting, Hansel said the proposal would allow Caltrain to be creative and experimental in how it ensures more ridership among students, part-time workers and companies. The Go Pass is priced at a steep discount compared to a typical monthly pass. However, Caltrain is trying to drive ridership after a steep decline due to COVID-19 and to protect the Go Pass revenue source’s stability as it exists. Caltrain ridership dropped more than 90% during parts of 2020 due to the pandemic. Most of Caltrain’s revenue has either dropped or is uncertain going into future fiscal years. The drop in revenue has put pressure on Caltrain to have a stable and dedicated funding source the Go Pass could provide.

“We’re trying some experimental things. We will see how they go,” said Hansel.

Hansel said it is likely Caltrain will see a cut in demand for the Go Pass program. He is hopeful that the cut in price helps protect the demand and assists customers, who are critically important in 2021 and beyond. Caltrain’s largest Go Pass customer is Stanford University, representing more than 40% of the passes it sells.

Caltrain also decided to change its bike parking lockers from individually-rented keyed lockers to on-demand, electronic lockers throughout its stations. Existing lockers with keys cost $33 for six months and are underutilized, inconvenient for customers and costly. Customers would be able to pay for electronic bike parking through their Clipper cards. Caltrain said on its website that the standard fee for a locker would be 5 cents per hour, available on a first-come, first-served basis. People exceeding their selected rental periods could be charged an overtime fee of up to 15 cents per hour.

“Thanks to staff for staying focused on the bike lockers, and hopefully, it’s going to add a layer of security and incentivize the use of bikes for riders,” said Board Member Charles Stone, also the mayor of Belmont.

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