Caltrain has hit an iceburg. Due to declining tax revenues, the agency faces a $30 million deficit next year.
One might think this would be an ideal time to modernize the system, and to fix long-standing labor productivity problems. But nope, the only solution up for consideration is massive service cuts.
And just how archaic are Caltrain operations? Consider this NY Times blog posting from last year:
Today’s Barbary Coast column is about a primitive form of communication. No, not something from an ancient civilization. It’s the system in place to identify the trains, tracks and departure times at the otherwise very modern Caltrain terminus at 4th and Townsend Streets in San Francisco. Instead of flat screen TVs or digital displays, the station uses wooden signs called “dog bones” that must be manually changed with the help of a long stick. It’s a throwback to the old days, but there’s a question of cost. It takes three employees to make sure this task is covered. Remarkably, when they designed this building a decade ago, architects were ordered to incorporate the manual signs. They are built into the metal superstructure. Caltrain would not say how much these workers are paid.