Last-Minute Deal In Place To Save Caltrain

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After weeks in limbo, it seems a last-minute agreement might just save the Caltrain sales tax ballot measure and perhaps the rail line itself.

The tax revenue is thought to be crucial to stave off the rail line’s coronavirus pandemic-fueled financial crisis.

A clash over Caltrain’s governance had thrown the sales tax measure into serious doubt. San Mateo County is on the one side, urging quick action, but San Francisco and Santa Clara counties are on the other, arguing that a reform plan should come first.

But the stalemate seems to have ended now that leadership from all three counties have signaled their support for an agreement that would advance the tax measure to the November ballot and deal with the governance question separately.

The ballot measure places a 1/8-cent sales tax increase before voters.

All we can say is thank you! ❤️Please don’t forget to attend the Board of Directors meeting this Thursday. It’s going to be an important one!

— Caltrain (@Caltrain) August 4, 2020

Santa Clara County Supervisor Cindy Chavez applauded the speedy deal. "I appreciate that folks weren’t afraid to roll up their sleeves, keep talking and get us to 'yes.'"

"However this happened, however this was made to happen, I am grateful for the hard work that must have gone on behind the scenes," said a county resident, one of many to express their relief over the deal.

Santa Clara County Supervisors approved the last-minute deal Tuesday.

The agreement must still be approved before a key ballot deadline this Friday by several groups, including the San Francisco Board of Supervisors, the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency Board, the Santa Clara Valley Transportation Authority and Peninsula Corridor Joint Powers Board.

Caltrain ridership has plummeted during the pandemic, choking the agency’s main source of funding.