Maybe it's just because snazzy bullet trains are cooler than wheezy buses and screeching light-rails, but Caltrain rides on so much better goodwill than poor beleaguered MUNI. Both agencies are facing massive budget gaps -- but while MUNI's proposals are greeted with angry villagers waving pitchforks and torches, Caltrain gets high praise with only a few sighs of regret. Huh.
Caltrain is raising fares by 17.5% -- so a one-way ticket from SF to SJ will go from $5.50 to $6.75 (as opposed to a twenty-five cent hike on MUNI), and Caltrain will also be closing three stations and significantly reducing hours at a fourth. So why no louder outcry? Well, to sweeten the deal, Caltrain has now scheduled 22 runs of the extremely popular express Baby Bullet train (from the previous 4) and is opening more Bullet stops, so current riders will have more options and new riders might be enticed to hop on board. Caltrain also pledged to revisit the issue in 6 months and see how the proposed cuts are doing, and will modify their decision if need be. Wow, accommodating your customers actually works!
Maybe MUNI could try and take some tips from Caltrain -- it seems like people are more willing to pay for higher fares if they get better service back. (We know, it's a mind-blowing concept.) Maybe MUNI should introduce more express buses or light rails, or introduce skip-stops on the 38, or build dedicated bus lanes -- just to give some examples. Maybe that'd cheer us up. Or maybe the Caltrain rage stories just aren't making the news?Picture of the College Park station from The Bus Stops Here, by G. Araki