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Caltrain Increases Farebox Recovery Range

The farebox recovery goal represents the percentage of the operating budget expected to be covered through fares.

Caltrain is raising the railroad's farebox recovery goals for the Fiscal Year 2014, transit officials announced Thursday.

The farebox recovery goal represents the percentage of the operating budget expected to be covered through fares.

In the next fiscal year, the JPB expects to cover between 45 and 65 percent of its operational costs using fares, that’s up from the 38 to 50 percent range that was adopted in 2008. 

Public transportation, like all other modes of travel, including roads and highways, requires a subsidy to operate.

While Caltrain’s farebox recovery ratio is among the highest of all Bay Area transportation systems, the service requires additional operational funding.

This is made particularly challenging because Caltrain is among the few transportation systems in the country without a dedicated funding source, relying instead on member contributions and one-time-only funds to bridge the gap between fares and total operating costs. 

“Caltrain’s strong farebox recovery is a testament to the efficiency with which the system operates,” Mark Simon, Caltrain’s executive officer for Public Affairs, said in a statement.

“But without a dedicated funding source, we lack the financial stability necessary to assure the system’s long-term future and the service reliability our customers deserve,” he said.

The rail agency uses a range rather than specifying a set amount to reflect economic and budgetary fluctuations.

In FY 2012, Caltrain covered more than 58 percent of its operating costs through the farebox. Farebox recovery rates have continued to demonstrate growth during Fiscal Year 2013.

Caltrain has used a variety of one-time-only funding strategies to cover the gap in operating funds.

With corridor electrification, Caltrain expects to reduce the need for additional operating subsidies by roughly 50 percent between the projected increase in ridership and savings in fuel and maintenance that the electrified system would provide.

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