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Caltrain Electrification Letter to President Trump and Transportation Secretary Chao

March 23, 2017


Dear President Trump and Transportation Secretary Chao:

As CEOs and senior officers in Silicon Valley, who comprise some of the 400 members of the Silicon Valley Leadership Group – an association of employers who have facilities and employees in all 50 States and most of America’s 435 Congressional Districts – we encourage your support of a key, shovel-ready transportation improvement in Silicon Valley, which also creates nearly 10,000 jobs for American workers in Congressional Districts throughout the United States.

Here’s context: Since 1863, when Abraham Lincoln was President of the United States during the most divisive and destructive time in our nation’s history, what we now call Caltrain Commuter Rail began continuous diesel train service between San Jose and San Francisco.

For nearly two decades, employers, large and small, have placed our wallets where our words are, by successfully leading ballot campaigns to tax ourselves and our fellow local citizens to both electrify and modernize Caltrain Commuter Rail. What was cutting edge technology when Abraham Lincoln was President – diesel locomotives – is not the case today. Yet our venerable trains still lumber along on diesel, slowly but surely transporting technology workers and others along the corridor two minutes slower than they ran in 1863.

It’s time for an upgrade; which is why the Silicon Valley Leadership Group, Bay Area Council, SPUR and other regional business organizations have championed the electrification and modernization of Caltrain, which has served our region for 154 years, now running 79 miles between Gilroy’s “Garlic Capital of the World,” through America’s 10th largest city of San Jose, along the Peninsula to San Francisco. With nearly 60 months of consecutive ridership increases, Caltrain is running at 125 percent of ridership capacity. Ridership has grown from 25,000 weekday passenger trips a decade ago to nearly 65,000 daily trips today. It is standing room only in both the morning and evening commutes.

Modernizing Caltrain includes safety improvements such as grade separations, longer station platforms to accommodate more train cars and elevated platforms for quicker boarding. Last November, the Silicon Valley Leadership Group championed a local ballot measure to tax our own companies and fellow private citizens with an increase of one-half cent in our sales tax to fund more than $1 billion for modernization improvements on Caltrain. It passed by 71.74 percent of the vote. Modernization, coupled with electrification, is essential. A key component is doing away with diesel engines and turning the switch to electric, which allows longer train cars – growing from five trains per train-set to eight trains per train-set – and increasing service from 92 trains per day to 114 trains per day. The $1.98 billion electrification upgrade, primarily funded by our own local, region and state funds – coupled with modernization – allows us to almost double Caltrain ridership to more than 110,000 daily trips. Three of every five Caltrain passengers are called “choice riders.” They own cars, but choose to get out of their own cars and onto rail cars instead, easing traffic on local streets and roads, and two of the most congested highways – 101 and 280 – in Northern California. The benefits abound:

  • Each day, electrification would eliminate 619,000 car miles traveled.
  • Each year, the reduction in polluting greenhouse gases would be the equivalent of removing 40,000 cars from our roads.

The economic importance of electrifying Caltrain cannot be overstated. Innovation economy employers calling the Peninsula corridor home contribute 14 percent of our entire state’s gross domestic product, 52 percent of all patents filed in California and 43 percent of all venture capital investment in the United States.

At a time when we are encouraged to “Build American and Buy American,” electrifying Caltrain creates 9,600 jobs: from power converters and transformers built in Richmond, Va.; the assembly of electric trains in Salt Lake City, Utah; the transportation of electric train shells in Humble, Texas; or engineering services in San Mateo, California; American workers win. The electrification of Caltrain puts Americans to work, while helping our fellow Americans get to work.

So why the last-minute attempt to derail two decades of work? A belief by 14 well-meaning Republican members of Congress, that defunding Caltrain will somehow kill California’s controversial High-Speed Rail project. As already determined by a judge in court, and codified by the California Legislature in 2012, the electrification of Caltrain is a separate and distinct project from High-Speed Rail. In fact, High-Speed Rail in the Peninsula Corridor would require its own Environmental Impact Report and more than $10 billion in revenue that currently does not exist. This bears repeating: If High-Speed Rail never happens, an electrified and modernized Caltrain is a complete and distinct project serving millions of passenger trips each year.

Based on the merits of Caltrain electrification and its many benefits to our regional, state and national economy, we urge Secretary Chao to sign the Full Funding Grant Agreement.

Carl Guardino
President & CEO
Silicon Valley Leadership Group

Greg Straughn, CFO, A10 Networks
Simon Kim, Vice President, AECOM
Eric McAfee, Chairman & CEO, Aemetis
Amar Panchal, Co-Founder & CEO, Akraya
Steve Blaylock, President, ALTrans TMA Inc.
Cynthia Hogan, Vice President, Apple Inc.
Joe Pon, Corporate Vice President, Applied Materials, Inc.
Kevin Surace, CEO & Founder, Appvance
Terry Rosen, CEO, Arcus Biosciences
Kevin Kennedy, President & CEO, Avaya Inc.
Rob Chandra, CEO, Avid Park Capital
Raquel González, Senior Vice President; Silicon Valley Market President, Bank of America
Tony Hughes, Managing Director, San Francisco, Barclays
Matthew Brown, Director, BD Biosciences
Mike Blach, President & CEO, Blach Construction Company
Michelle Fisher, CEO & Founder, Blaze Mobile
Evan Wittenberg, Senior Vice President, Box
Matt Mahan, Co-Founder & CEO, Brigade
Ty Walrod, CEO, Bright Funds
Marty Kropelnicki, President & CEO, California Water Service Group
Tom Kemp, Co-Founder & CEO, Centrify
Kirill Tatarinov, CEO, Citrix
Kim Polese, Chairman, ClearStreet
Bjoern Lasse Hermann, Founder & CEO, Compass
TS Ravi, CEO, Crystal Solar Inc.
David Bostwick, CFO, Crystal Solar Inc.
Eileen Nelson, Senior Vice President, Cupertino Electric Inc.
Steve Rossi, President & CEO, Digital First Media
Russell Spektor, CEO, Direct Resource Management, Inc.
Dawnet Beverley, Senior Vice President & Managing Director, Donnelley Financial Solutions
Mike Dabbs, Senior Director, eBay
Ron Sege, CEO, Echelon Corporation
Guy Gecht, CEO, EFI
Donald Sibery, Interim CEO, El Camino Hospital
Bob Kieve, President, Empire Broadcasting Corp.
Prince Kohli, Senior Vice President, Ericsson
Jack Harding, President & CEO, eSilicon
Tom Hayse, Chairman & CEO, ETM-Electromatic Inc.
Belal Hummadi, Co-Founder & CEO, ExciteM
Sandeep Duggal, CEO, Extron Inc
Jerry Mix, CEO, Finelite
Kerry McCracken, Vice President, Flex Connect
Thuy Thi Nguyen, President, Foothill College
Judy Miner, Chancellor, Foothill-De Anza Community College District
Balduin Hesse, CEO & President, Frontier Renewables LLC
Brendon Harrington, Director of Transportation, Google
Dan Gordon, Director of Brewing Operations & Co-Founder, Gordon Biersch
Vic Shao, CEO, Green Charge
Pete May, President and Co-Founder, GreenBiz Group
Eric Faurot, CEO, GreenBiz Group
Joel Makower, Chairman and Executive Editor, GreenBiz Group
Charlotta Carter, President & CEO, GRI Technology Solutions, LLC
Jonathan Nelson, CEO & Founder, Hackers and Founders
Patrick Harshman, President & CEO, Harmonic
Alyssa Ravasio, Founder & CEO, Hipcamp
Enrique Lores, President, HP Inc.
Tom Fallon, CEO, Infinera
James Gutierrez, CEO, Insikt
John Keating, Vice President, Intermolecular, Inc.
John Lucas, Vice President, Juniper Networks
Irene Chavez, Senior Vice President, Area Manager, Kaiser Permanente San Jose Medical Center
Chris Boyd, Senior Vice President, Area Manager, Kaiser Permanente Santa Clara Medical Center
Josh Becker, CEO, Lex Machina
Christopher Dawes, President & CEO, Lucile Packard Children’s Hospital Stanford
Joseph Okpaku, Vice President, Lyft
Shellye Archambeau, CEO, MetricStream
Gina Bianchini, Founder & CEO, Mighty Software, Inc.
Michael Hsing, CEO, Monolithic Power Systems, Inc.
Najat Badriyeh, Founder & President & CEO, NAPROTEK, INC
Stefan Heck, CEO & Co-Founder, Nauto
Tarkan Maner, Chairman and CEO, Nexenta
Nirav Tolia, Co-Founder & CEO, Nextdoor
PK Agarwal, Dean and CEO, Northeastern University Silicon Valley
Donna Dubinsky, CEO, Numenta, Inc.
Ned Finkle, Vice President, NVIDIA
Dave Kaval, President, Oakland Athletics & San Jose Earthquakes
Maci Peterson, Co-Founder & CEO, On Second Thought
Raul Vazquez, CEO, Oportun
Ian Monroe, CEO, Oroeco
Lizz Vilardo, President & CEO, Palo Alto Medical Foundation
Maureen O’Connor, President, Palo Alto University
Dr. Joshua Switkes, Founder & CEO, Peloton Technology
Jennifer Adams, Director, Plantronics
Joe Burton, President & CEO, Plantronics
Ron Gonzales, Chairman and CEO, Presencia, LLC.
Ryan Popple, CEO, PROTERRA
Mike Johnson, President & CEO, Regional Medical Center of San Jose
Jed York, CEO, San Francisco 49ers
John Tang, Vice President, San Jose Water Company
Dr. Deborah Budd, Chancellor, San José-Evergreen Community College District
Father Michael Engh, S.J., President, Santa Clara University
Rami Branitzky, Managing Director, Sapphire Ventures
Rob Sadow, CEO and Co-Founder, Scoop Technologies, Inc.
Steve Luczo, CEO & Chairman, Seagate Technology
Bill Graham, President, Sequoia Hospital
Archana Sharma, Founder & CEO, Shivark
Erica Rogers, President & CEO, Silk Road Medical
Nathan Wenzel, CEO, SimpleLegal, Inc.
Pedro Espinoza, President & CEO, SmileyGo Corporation
Andy Coan, President & CEO, Splice Communications
David Entwistle, President & CEO, Stanford Health Care
Rob Steinberg, Chairman, STEINBERG
Celeste Volz Ford, CEO, Stellar Solutions, Inc.
Jordan Epstein, CEO, Stroll Health
Andy Pierce, President, Stryker Endoscopy
Tom Werner, CEO, SunPower
Lou Ramondetta, President, Surplus Service
Ron Conway, Founder & Co-Managing Partner, SV Angel
Greg Becker, President & CEO, SVB Finacial Group
Rick Bergman, President & CEO, Synaptics
Kevin Murai, President & CEO, SYNNEX Corporation
Aart de Geus, Chairman & co-CEO, Synopsys, Inc.
John Hogan, CEO, TeenForce
Tom Lacey, CEO, Tessera
Laurie Conner, President & CEO, The Detection Group, Inc.
Charlie Bullock, CEO, The Health Trust
Suresh Babu, CEO, Tiquant Inc.
George Blumenthal, Chancellor, UC Santa Cruz
Elena Lucas, Co-Founder & CEO, UtilityAPI
Dow Wilson, President & CEO, Varian Medical Systems
Alastair Hood, Ph.D., CEO, Verdafero Inc.
Bill Coleman, CEO, Veritas Technologies LLC
Jes Pedersen, CEO, Webcor Builders
Steve Milligan, CEO, Western Digital
Paul Lovoi, President & CEO, Woodtoga
Ken Goldman, CFO & Vice President, Yahoo!
Jay Banfield, Managing Director, California, Year Up

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