Improve Mass Transit for San Francisco
and connections to Silicon Valley!
Extend Caltrain to Downtown San Francisco!
Proposition H is the Caltrain downtown station
initiative passed by San Francisco voters by
a 69-to-31 percent margin in the November 1999 election.
See a map of the proposed Caltrain extension
Why San Francisco needs a downtown Caltrain station:
Traffic congestion in San Francisco, especially in the South
of Market area, is reaching unbearable levels. Caltrain,
which currently terminates on the southern edge of this
rapidly growing and congesting neighborhood, links San
Francisco to half the Bay Area's population to the south and
the job-rich Silicon Valley.
A very small number of Muni lines connect directly to
Caltrain, making connections inconvenient for people taking
transit from most parts of the city or the Bay Area to the
Peninsula and Silicon Valley. Study after study has shown
that the vast majority of Caltrain passengers from the south
are headed to the downtown area. Requiring all these extra
transfers for Caltrain riders has discouraged transit readership.
For much less cost than any alternative transit proposals,
Caltrain could be extended to downtown, run much more
frequently, take thousands of cars off San Francisco and
Peninsula streets and freeways, and enable many more San
Franciscans who work in Silicon Valley to give up their
cars. Caltrain has been chronically neglected by elected
Questions and Answers about Proposition H
List of reasons for extending Caltrain to downtown
What Proposition H will do:
The Caltrain-to-downtown ballot initiative is an ordinance which makes
it official city policy to extend Caltrain to downtown. It also
requires that city officials and agencies seek the necessary funding to build
the project. It specifies potential funding sources, but does not require that
city funds be spent or that
any one funding source be used.
It also prohibits the city and its agencies from making any
decision that allows construction that would obstruct the
right-of-way needed to build the extension or the rail terminal at First
and Mission Streets.
Recent events that led to the Caltrain initiative:
A well developed plan to extend Caltrain to the Transbay Terminal
and electrify it to eliminate diesel locomotives was under
consideration beginning in 1994. (See On The Right Track
below.) The plan was halted in June 1997
by San Francisco Mayor Willie Brown over the objections several
pro-transit and conservation groups.
However, Polling showed that San Franciscans strongly favored
extending Caltrain to downtown. Mayor Brown since then has changed his
to support Caltrain to downtown.
In December of 1998, a campaign to revive the Caltrain
extension and electrification of the Caltrain line collected
the required number of valid signatures of registered voters
to place an ordinance on the November 1999 ballot in San
This effort is sponsored by the Better Transit Alliance, a project of the San Francisco League of Conservation
Voters (LCV), Sierra Club, San Francisco Tomorrow, San Francisco Bicycle
Coalition, Peninsula Rail 2000 and other groups. The SF Environmental Organizing
Committee also is participating in efforts to pass Prop H.
Why a ballot initiative?
Implementing modern, convenient rail service to the
Peninsula and Silicon Valley by upgrading and extending
Caltrain has been an affordable, practical option for
several years. Regional agencies and officials have lacked
the vision to carry these projects through. Proposition H
would jump-start these projects.
As a direct result of qualifying the initiative, the Mayor and the Board of
Supervisors enacted legislation which supports the Caltrain extension, Bay Bridge
rail, and transforming the Transbay Terminal at First and Mission Streets into a
regional rail/transit hub. This action in March of this year reversed the city's
However, this is a fragile policy. Political winds could easily shift again and
extension and Transbay Station concept could fall out of favor. Funding for
construction of the downtown extension and station has yet to be secured. These
concerns prompted the grassroots efforts to
qualify Proposition H for the November ballot.
Text of Proposition H
Outcome of voting on November 2, 1999:
Proposition H: Downtown Caltrain Station
|YES votes received:
||...69.30% of total|
|NO votes received:
||...30.60% of total|
On The Right
The official newsletter, dated March 1997, of the proposed extension project
which gives all the details of how and where the extension would be built. (This
document contains much verbiage and detailed information. One
map provided by the SF Caltrain campaign shows
the overall project, where it goes, and the
improved connections it would provide.)
Caltrain upgrade projects page
1999 designs for the Caltrain extension and downtown station
Further information about the Caltrain extension and its history from
Architecture 21, a.k.a. Michael Kiesling. Kiesling devised and successfully
promoted the tunneled alignment of the proposed extension project.
Some recent history of the SF Caltrain
Read more about recent events concerning the Caltrain extension and the future of
the Transbay Terminal, especially during the summer of 1997. Here you will find
links to several newspaper articles, and correspondence in support of the
Proponent's argument in favor of Propositon H from
the San Francisco Voter Information Pamphlet
Rebuttal to opponent's argument against Propositon H
not printed in the San Francisco Voter Information Pamphlet due to a procedural error
Paid Yes on Prop. H ballot arguments from
the San Francisco Voter Information Pamphlet
Letters to the editor in favor of Prop. H
SF Bay Guardian
endorsement of Prop. H
Subscribe to CALTRAIN-DTX or CALTRAIN-TALK, e-mail lists for
communication amongst the supporters of the Caltrain SF extension. To subscribe,
Some key reasons why Caltrain needs to be extended to downtown SF:
- Caltrain needs to go directly downtown so all the transit carriers of the
Bay Area connect in one place.
- Caltrain is our only chance for a modern, efficient alternative to
the congested highways of the San Jose-Peninsula-SF corridor for the next 30
years. An extension into downtown San Francisco is vital to Caltrain's
- The Caltrain extension is expected to eliminate 20,000 to 30,000 daily car
trips by providing faster and more convenient rail access to the Peninsula
and Silicon Valley.
- The Caltrain extension is feasible. Preliminary engineering
studies show how to tunnel the Caltrain line under Rincon Hill to a
rebuilt Transbay Terminal, with minimal disruption.
- A major portion of funding for the downtown Caltrain station will
come from sales of surplus public land ajoining the station site.
- San Francisco needs a downtown rail terminal for commuter trains, long
distance, and regional trains--a fixture of countless major cities of the world.
- A downtown station would boost plans for a "bullet
train" to Southern California. This proposed High Speed
Rail system also would use Caltrain's tracks. Bullet trains will
need to directly serve downtown to be time-competitive with air
travel. Amtrak trains to the Monterey Bay area and the
Central Valley also would serve the downtown station.
- The Muni Metro Embarcadero extension to Caltrain lacks the capacity to
handle whole trainloads of Caltrain transfers. Soon this Muni line will be
further overwhelmed by riders to the new ballpark and the Mission Bay
- People won't ride the train if they have to transfer to Muni to get
downtown or make connections to other regional transit systems. Carrying Caltrain
riders the last mile to downtown should not be left to Muni to
- Extended to downtown, Caltrain's direct routing offers the fastest
possible access to SFO airport, the Peninsula, Silicon Valley, and San
Jose--from downtown or via numerous direct Muni connections from most parts
of San Francisco.
- Foot traffic around downtown rail stations is an economic
magnet. In many cities, stations include extremely lucrative joint
- Caltrain provides disadvantaged Potrero Hill, Bay View-Hunters Point and
Visitacion Valley neighborhoods with direct access to SFO airport and Silicon
Valley. Prop. H would extend service to downtown, and upgrade
station facilities in these neighborhoods.
- Due to its staggeringly high cost and circuitous routing via Daly City and
Colma (see map), BART is not a promising
way to carry people between SF, the Peninsula and San Jose.
- Without San Francisco's support for Caltrain upgrades, the city could lose
Caltrain. Service may be cut back to Millbrae, where all passengers to and
from San Francisco would transfer to or from BART. This would add 20 minutes to
every trip and overwhelm BART within SF. Loss of Caltrain in SF also would
eliminate service to the ballpark, Mission Bay, and southeastern neighborhoods.
- If San Francisco doesn't support and plan for a
downtown rail station soon, there may never be one, due
to redevelopment pressures in San Francisco. A few parcels of state-owned land
must be reserved to keep the station and extension right-of-way
clear. Prop. H would prohibit any construction that would obstruct the
extension in the future.
- Access to downtown has gotten worse since freeway ramps have been
demolished. More transit access is needed for downtown to retain its
economic vitality. It is impractical to provide adequate parking to ensure
automobile access to a downtown core.
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Last updated: July 17, 2001
The information in this archive dates from approximately November 1999.
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