Local Update: Silicon Valley-Bay Area Commuters Lose Key Federal Transportation Funding

Feb. 19, 2017

In 2014, CLSA’s legacy organization, BayBio, joined numerous civic, business and nonprofit organizations in founding the Caltrain Commuter Coalition (C3). The C3 Coalition has supported Caltrain’s federal grant applications for the electrification of the system which has been in the planning stages since the 1990s. This electrification would increase service, accommodate larger ridership, and be more environmentally friendly than the current diesel-hauled trains allow. Caltrain, with its 60,000 daily riders, has long been a vital part in decreasing congestion on the heavily trafficked Highway 101 and getting life sciences sector employees to work.

However, with the advent of a new administration, all 14 House Republicans from the California Delegation sent a letter to newly appointed Secretary of Transportation Elaine Chao to block any further federal funding, due to their opposition to high speed rail. Following this, California’s two U.S. Senators and every House Democrat from the California Congressional Delegation sent a letter to support the project and clarify that the project is not part of the state’s High Speed Rail project.

C3 Coalition members, including CLSA, sent individual letters (here) to support the project along with a large sign-on letter (here) of such business, industry, and community organizations as Genentech, Google, Dignity Health, San Francisco 49ers, Bay Area Council, Chambers of Commerce and many more.

However, Caltrain recently received word from the Federal Transit Administration that the funding would be deferred until the new Administration develops its 2018 budget. While the majority of the approximately $2 billion for this project comes from local, regional and state sources, the requested $647 million Core Capacity Grant would have enabled the equipment suppliers and the construction companies to immediately begin working. With this new dynamic, the next steps in advancing Caltrain’s overloaded and aging system into the 21st Century are in question.

CLSA continues to advocate for solutions to the Silicon Valley-Bay Area transportation gridlock as part of the C3 Coalition so our member company employees can more easily commute. Questions? Please contact Reese Isbell, CLSA’s Director of Local Government and Community Relations at