On Monday Caltrain’s Twitter account linked to its petition on the White House site urging the Trump administration to reverse course on last week’s decision by Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao to pull the brakes on a $647 million federal grant for the transit corridor's electrification plan.
The message appeals to President Trump directly:
You have said infrastructure and jobs will be a keystone of your administration. When you spoke with Silicon Valley leaders you praised their innovation and said "anything we can do to help this go along, we’re going to be there for you." In talks with Japanese Prime Minster Abe, he cited high speed rail as technology that could create prosperity and thousands of US jobs.
Under a program titled We The People, which launched in 2011, anyone may submit a petition on the White House site about almost any topic as “a way for anybody, anywhere, to speak directly to the government.”
White House staff reviews petitions that garner 100,000 signatures within 30 days and usually prepare a response.
As of Tuesday morning the Caltrain request (titled “Support 9,600 American Jobs”) has pulled in about 2,000 signatures and has 29 days to go.
It was a potentially disastrous setback last week when the Federal Transit Administration (FTA) announced it would delay the grant pending “additional time to complete review of this significant commitment of federal resources.”
As the San Francisco Chronicle noted at the time, Caltrain is on a March 1 deadline to start hiring for the project.
Caltrain has planned for years to ditch its fleet of old diesel trains in favor of an electric system aimed to carry high-speed rail from Southern California.
The $674 million in federal dollars is a critical part of a patchwork multi-billion estimated budget.