Thursday, April 7, 2011

Caltrain: Hayward Park Station Suspension

Late Tuesday afternoon Caltrain issued a press release indicating that as part of a deal to close a $30 million defect in Caltrain funding for the upcoming year, staff of the the three agencies funding Caltrain -- SAMTRANS (San Mateo), VTA (Santa Clara), and Muni (San Francisco) -- along with the Metropolitan Transportation Commission, had agreed to service reductions that include the suspension of service at the Hayward Park Station in The City of San Mateo.

This decision was brokered on Monday night, April 4. No advanced notice of the deal was given to the San Mateo City Council or City staff. Our first notice of the deal was in the press release to the general public on Tuesday.

Of great concern to the decision to suspend service at Hayward Park is the fact that the decision was based largely on current ridership figures. While it is true that currently Hayward Park Station has very low ridership figures compared to other stations, it is also true that the City of San Mateo has invested heavily in utilizing the area around Hayward Park Station to increase those figures with sustainable, transit-oriented development.

Two current developments, the Hines Office Project, and Station Park Green figure to add over 500 residential units and over 10,000 square feet of office and retail space that would significantly boost Hayward Park Stations ridership figures. These are projects already approved by the City Council and ready to be built.

The Caltrain decision reached this week threatens those and other project. It therefore threatens local jobs that would help build those developments. It also threatens new home sales, new stores and new businesses in our community.

In short, the decision to close Hayward Park Station threatens the economic and community well-being of the City of San Mateo.

Since receiving notice of the closure of Hayward Park, one of only three stations slated for suspension of services, I have taken the following steps:

1. I placed calls to San Mateo County representatives on the Caltrain Board and MTC, to staff at Caltrain, and to various community, business, and labor leaders.

2. In these discussions, I have requested a more detailed account of how the current deal was brokered, and have asked that the Caltrain Board delay their upcoming vote on this issued scheduled for Thursday, April 7 at 10:30 am to allow for a more detailed explanation to be disseminated to the public. An issue as important as closure of a community Caltrain Station deserves more than 72 hours notice.

3. I have proposed language that would ensure that if Hayward Park station needs to have service suspended to solve the short term fiscal crisis, it does not become a long term casualty. I have proposed language that would ensure that the continued closure of Hayward Park Station would require further hearings in the future.

This is a complex issue and things remain fluid. To find out more about this issue, I urge you to contact me or better yet attend the Caltrain meeting tomorrow at 10 am in San Carlos at San Carlos Ave and Laurel Ave.

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