Caltrain Says Peninsula Voters Support New Sales Tax

Nick Garber

BAY AREA, CA — Caltrain, the Peninsula rail line whose financial health is in jeopardy due to the coronavirus crisis, said Wednesday that a majority of voters in the three counties it serves would support a new sales tax to preserve Caltrain service during the pandemic, according to a poll the railroad conducted.

Caltrain is advocating for a one-eighth cent sales tax ballot measure, which it says would help it survive the crisis, expand service in the future and give it a dedicated revenue source, which it currently lacks.

Just over 63 percent of the likely voters polled in San Francisco, San Mateo and Santa Clara counties said they would support the measure, which would need two-thirds support among the three counties to pass.

The reasons voters gave for supporting the measure included easing traffic congestion on highways, reducing air pollution and improving train service, according to Caltrain.

Caltrain says it gets 70 percent of its funding from passenger fares, which have dropped steeply during the pandemic. Losses have required numerous cuts to Caltrain service over the past three months.

To appear on the November ballot, the sales tax will need to be approved by the Caltrain Board of Directors, as well as each county's board of supervisors. So far, only San Mateo's have voted to authorize putting the measure on the ballot.

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This article originally appeared on the Palo Alto Patch