SACRAMENTO — A state Senate bill to allow local authorities to place a 1/8-cent sales tax for Caltrain on the ballot in Santa Clara, San Francisco and San Mateo counties cleared the Assembly on Friday, pushing it close to the finish line.
Senate Bill 797, by Sen. Jerry Hill, D-San Mateo, is part of an effort to raise $100 million annually for the popular train that shuttles more than 60,000 riders on weekdays up and down the Peninsula between San Francisco and San Jose.
The proposed tax, an extra penny for every $8 spent, would help Caltrain expand as it electrifies the system — a project expected to be completed by 2021. Proponents, including the Silicon Valley Leadership Group, argue that investing in Caltrain would help to ease highway gridlock by encouraging more commuters to take the train instead.
But it remains to be seen whether voters will approve it after the state passed a 12-cent gas tax increase this year. Santa Clara County — whose voters approved a half-cent sales tax in November to improve transportation, including extending BART to downtown San Jose — already has the second-highest sales tax in the state, at 9 percent.