The Caltrain board discussed a possible regional rail enterprise between BART and Caltrain to create a more integrated and efficient regional transportation network as part of a discussion on regional transit coordination.
Board Member Steve Heminger proposed the idea at the Jan. 7 Caltrain meeting, following a presentation update on future regional transit coordination and what changes the Metropolitan Transportation Commission, or MTC, is considering to achieve more regional cooperation and efficiency between the various Bay Area transpiration agencies.
“I also know that we’ve discussed, and I would encourage continued discussion and continued coordination with this region conversation about some kind of regional rail enterprise centered around BART and Caltrain,” Heminger said.
Heminger, a retired executive director for MTC, suggested a regional rail enterprise between Caltrain and BART because BART now runs service in all three counties that Caltrain operates in, both are rail operations and Caltrain has spent money on projects to connect Caltrain platforms and services with BART stations.
Heminger asked Caltrain Executive Director Jim Hartnett, also the San Mateo County Transit District’s general manager, to include the possibility of a regional rail enterprise as a topic of conversation at a future workshop meeting on the regional governance. Caltrain plans to have either an item on its agenda at a future meeting or a workshop devoted to regional cooperation and authority conversations. None of the other members of the board during the discussion spoke specifically about the regional rail enterprise proposal.
“I do think that having that regional conversation, or maybe it’s a subregional conversation between BART and Caltrain, given our increasing proximity, our increasing touching as Jim [Hartnett] says of each other, I think is an option that we ought to consider,” Heminger said.
Hartnett said more coordination between agencies is important for Caltrain. He said transit agencies like Caltrain should look at better coordination and cooperation of schedules among agencies with services close to each other that touch, like BART. For Caltrain, working closely with BART is a priority, while it does not need as much coordination with Napa or Solano County’s transit agencies. Caltrain is now working more closely with San Francisco Municipal Railway, or Muni, on picking up service Muni can no longer provide.
“We have to have systems in place to check with each other about schedule changes that are going to impact our connections,” Hartnett said.
MTC is the transportation planning, financing and coordinating agency for the San Francisco Bay Area that would lead and organize long-term regional transit authority changes. The MTC Blue Ribbon Transit Recovery Task Force is responsible for providing MTC with solutions on the Bay Area’s public transportation regional transportation network. The task force will submit an action plan to MTC later in the year with its ideas on how to make the regional transit system more connected, efficient and user-focused.
At the meeting, Caltrain staff said changes would be a new authority that controls transit coordination and services in the future instead of having the different regional transit organizations coordinate. A potential transit network management federation/executive board was also presented as a possibility, allowing local agencies to retain control of powers and have board accountability.
Some of the shared goals for all Bay Area transit agencies are to restore transit ridership, improve transit systems through an integrated regional network and improve rider experience through a better regional network that is more reliable, frequent and effective. Agencies will have to identify new revenue sources to achieve a successful transformation of regional transit coordination. The many different organizations are trying to work together and coordinate, including having weekly meetings, sharing strategies for best practices, fare integration and more coordinated long-range planning.
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