Palo Alto residents have a big transportation decision to make in the coming months: whether to support the electrification of Caltrain.
Joined by Caltrain and San Mateo city officials, Assemblyman Jerry Hill, D-San Mateo, held a news conference at the downtown San Mateo Caltrain Station on Tuesday morning to encourage residents to get on board with the electrification of Caltrain.
Electrifying Caltrain would make the trains quieter, faster and more frequent. It would also reduce emissions by 90 percent.
"Hear that noise?" Hill shouted during the news conference as Caltrain sirens blared and a train approached the station, screeching to a halt. "With electrification you wouldn't hear that anymore."
Hill said if Caltrain is electrified, ideally it will be merged with high-speed rail along the Peninsula, in a two-track blended system as opposed to a four-track system.
A four-track system, according to Hill, would infringe upon each community along Caltrain. Peninsula cities have .
The electrification of Caltrain by 2019 would cost about $1.5 billion. Right now a plan is in the works to ; each would provide about $750 million.
Hill compared the magnitude of the decision to electrify Caltrain with another transportation possibly Peninsula residents faced in the 1960s: whether to bring BART through from San Jose to San Francisco.
"It's time for us to get involved and study the issue," Hill said.
The Metropolitan Transportation Commission is scheduled to release the details of the funding for electrification next week.
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