By Len Ramirez

SAN JOSE (KPIX 5) — Caltrain may soon raise fares substantially even though ridership keeps growing.

The transit agency says the hikes are necessary to close a multi-million dollar budget deficit.

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People may be used to high prices in Silicon Valley, but the new fare increases proposed by Caltrain are so high that some are considering skipping the train all together.

You could say, they

Some riders say the fares are already too high.

Caltrain rider Jaraad Huq said, “Other options sure, you know Uber, carpooling options, whatever I can do. Maybe the buses.”

Huq doesn’t usually ride Caltrain, but he just bought a ticket from Palo Alto to San Francisco and got sticker shock at the $8 fare.

“I’ve used transit systems all over the country you know, Chicago, New York. It’s usually $4 or $5 to go from the suburbs to the city.”

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With ridership up, it might not look like Caltrain is struggling financially, but only half of its operating budget comes from fares.

The rest comes from partner transit agencies in Santa Clara, San Mateo and San Francisco counties.

Caltrain says support from them has come up drastically short and with an aging fleet of trains, maintenance costs are skyrocketing.

Caltrain spokesman Dan Lieberman said, “We’re looking at a $20.7 million shortfall.”

Caltrain is proposing increasing zone fares by 25 cents, which could boost some tickets by a $1.50. Eight-ride tickets could be eliminated, parking rates could go up and the cost of employer subsidized Go Passes could rise by 50 percent.

“Those were heavily discounted. So they would still be a good deal, but they are not going to be the great deal they once were,” Lieberman explains.

Some riders see it as paying more and getting less.

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Caltrain rider Vivek Sunkara said, “I see there are regular breakdowns on Caltrain when I am on the train or waiting for a train. I think it’s frustrating.”