“Caltrain is for tech workers, not for the working-class.”
About one-quarter of Caltrain riders report household incomes of less than $60,000 and the system helps support the rest of the Samtrans bus system in San Mateo County. The system is also engaged in a fare equity study to figure out how to make Caltrain’s fares more accessible to different income levels.
I think you just made the argument that Caltrain isn’t for the working class. If we contrast this to the Los Angeles Metro, we see that the ridership of the latter has a median household income of $19,374 (if we include buses, it’s even lower). I’m kind of blown away at how different those numbers are.
To put this into perspective, the median income in Los Angeles County cited in that same article I just linked was $55,909, meaning the median income of the ridership of the metro was less than half that of the county at large.
The Bay Area has a higher median income than Los Angeles County by around $15,000, but that is not so much higher that the top of the lowest quartile of income for Caltrain can be over three times the median of the Los Angeles Metro and still make the claim that it is for the working class.
Don’t get me wrong. I am a user and advocate of public transportation, and I certainly don’t mind rich people having access to public transportation. Better that than yet another BMW cutting people off in traffic. Los Angeles has great public transportation, and it sure as hell beats driving in rush hour traffic. But, that number you cited really jumped out at me as being wildly different than what I experience using a rail system.
Maybe if Caltrain got matched dollar-for-dollar by a similar rail expansion on the east side of the bay, it would be more appropriate to bill it as being for the working class. When you cut Oakland and the East Bay out of infrastructure improvements, and, instead, just service the corridor between San Francisco and San Jose, people can rightly object that it’s some sort of elitist train. I’m sure GOP politicians would still find a reason to object either way, but at least we wouldn’t have to suffer there being a grain of truth to their disingenuous claims of representing the interests of the people. What’s more, it would be even better and more egalitarian than the present proposal and, as the East Bay is the most populous subregion and houses the communities with the lowest median household incomes in the Bay Area, it would serve a lot more people.