Annual “Silicon Valley Poll” shows tremendous voter support for a sales tax measure to strengthen Caltrain
SAN JOSE, CA – In continuous operation since the Civil War, when Abraham Lincoln was President of the United States, Caltrain commuter rail service has been essential to Silicon Valley and the Bay Area’s economy. Yet Caltrain lacks what every other major rail transit line in the United States takes for granted – a permanent funding source for its operations and maintenance.
It appears that could all change in 2018, if regional leaders and voters come together in a multi-county election along the Caltrain Corridor.
According to the Silicon Valley Leadership Group’s Annual “Silicon Valley Poll,” voters are overwhelmingly willing to tax themselves to fund Caltrain service, and to double the ridership capacity of the popular train.”I’ve had the pleasure to lead or co-lead 11 initiative campaigns for the Silicon Valley Leadership Group; 10 of them successfully,” said Carl Guardino, CEO and president of the Leadership Group. “Never have I seen a sales tax campaign supported by such a large percentage of likely voters and taxpayers.”
The Annual “Silicon Valley Poll,” conducted May 3-9, surveyed 1,200 likely voters in Santa Clara, San Mateo and San Francisco Counties. The poll was conducted by J. Moore Methods, Inc. Public Opinion Research.
When asked a potential 75-word ballot statement calling for a 1/8 of one cent sales tax to run Caltrain, and to modernize the 79-mile line in ways that would more than double its ridership capacity, the response was 74 percent yes, 23 percent no, and 3 percent undecided.
“We have a unique opportunity to build on our recent success in securing a $647 million federal grant to electrify Caltrain on the Peninsula,” said Congresswoman Anna G. Eshoo. “An increase of just 1/8 of one cent in our sales tax could boost ridership capacity from 110,000 daily trips to more than 250,000 daily trips. This would be transformational when it comes to the chronically congested Highway 101 Corridor and I support the effort to do so.”
In a two-year study recently completed by SPUR, engineering firm ARUP found that modernizing Caltrain, coupled with electrification, would increase ridership by more than two-fold. “Modernization would include investments like longer platforms, grade separations, additional train cars and more frequent service. It all adds up to more people on the train and less people crawling along the congested Highway 101 Corridor and our local streets and roads,” said Gabe Metcalf, CEO of SPUR.
The economic importance of the Caltrain Corridor – even just the stretch between downtown San Jose and San Francisco – is considerable:
- 1.6 million jobs
- 54 percent of patents filed in California.
- 13 percent of California’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP)
- 20 percent of all sales tax revenues generated in the State of California
“The congestion along the Highway 101 Corridor is negatively impacting our regional economy and people’s quality of life,” said state Senator Jerry Hill, D-San Mateo and Santa Clara Counties. “Increasing Caltrain ridership is one of the most cost-effective ways to reduce traffic on the 101.”
“During the past decade, ridership on Caltrain has more than doubled, from roughly 27,000 daily trips to more than 62,000 daily trips,” said Guardino. “Electrification is now underway, which will be completed by 2021, allowing us to grow capacity from 62,000 daily trips to more than 110,000. This potential measure would be a game changer for our residents and commuters.”
By way of background, the Silicon Valley Leadership Group has led and run more successful transportation funding measures in the region than any other organization. Successes include the following:
- 1984 “Measure A” – to build and improve Highway 85, Highway 101 and Highway 237; all completed on-time and on-budget
- 1996 “Measures A & B” – to fund 19 key road and transit improvements; 18 completed on-time and on-budget
- 2000 “Measure A” – Which didn’t take effect until 2006, to run through 2036, to fund the BART extension to Santa Clara County, Caltrain modernization and other transit improvements
- 2008 “Measure B” – Which went into effect in 2012, provides the operations and maintenance funds for the BART extension into Santa Clara County
- 2016 “Measure B” – Passed last November by 71.74 percent of the vote, funds a host of road and transit improvements throughout Silicon Valley
About the Silicon Valley Leadership Group Annual Poll
The 2017 Silicon Valley Leadership Group Annual Poll was conducted by J. Moore Methods from May 3-9, 2017 and surveyed 1,200 registered voters in Santa Clara, San Francisco and San Mateo counties. These results are for the three counties with a +/- 2.6 percent margin of error.