US approves $650M for San Francisco Bay Area train system

A $647 million grant from the Federal Transit Administration had been approved in the final days of President Barack Obama's administration and was set to be sent in February, but Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao, appointed by President Donald Trump, initially declined to sign off on the funds.

From congressional representatives to Gov.

The Federal Transit Administration announced its decision on the Caltrain funding request Monday. Additional funding amounts specified in the agreement are still subject to congressional approval in the future, FTA officials said.

Now, a almost 150-year-old diesel rail line will be modernized to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, increase commuter capacity in one of the world's most economically productive corridors, and potentially help alleviate some of the Bay Area's traffic woes. The republicans opposed the federal funding based on the PCEP's ties to the state's high-speed rail project, while the democrats accused the GOP of holding up a job producing project through misleading claims.

"Of course, this milestone is only possible because of widespread and vocal support from the communities we serve".

"We are very grateful, and we look forward to rewarding those efforts by getting to work right away building the transit system this region deserves", Hartnett said. "The jobs, the people, the economy, the traffic relief; it's going to benefit everyone".

"We are very thankful to Secretary Chao and the Trump Administration for recognising the value that Caltrain electrification will create for the Bay Area and the nation by easing congestion in one of the country's most economically productive regions and creating nearly 10,000 American jobs in the process", says Caltrain general manager and CEO Mr Jim Hartnett. But Rep. Jeff Denham (R-Calif.) had objected that part of the state's matching money for the project stemmed from a fund voters had originally designated for high-speed rail. "Caltrain is not, nor will it ever be, "high speed" and should not be funded with high speed rail dollars, especially when that project has yet to prove its own financial viability".

Trump has spoken favorably of high-speed rail and lamented that the United States is behind many other countries that have bullet trains.

It is not immediately clear how much in funds the department is approving.

Congress provided $2.4 billion for the program in the fiscal 2017 omnibus spending bill, which is a $236 million boost from the previous year.

"Caltrain's fleet of diesel trains are at the end of their useful life", Feinstein said. "Now is the time to replace these outdated dirty diesel trains with a cleaner, modern electric fleet", U.S. Sen. Caltrain was able to secure a three-month extension with its contractors to break ground on the project while waiting to hear back from the FTA. "With this agreement, the project can finally begin".

  • Joanne Flowers