Dumbarton Rail Corridor
In August 2018, the San Mateo County Transit District (District) began partnering with Cross Bay Transit Partners (CBTP), a joint venture between Facebook and Plenary Group, to explore options to enhance mobility options along the Dumbarton rail corridor. The District and CBTP will explore the feasibility of potentially reopening the corridor for passenger service and facilitating mixed-use transit-oriented development at key transit connections.
This effort follows the completion of the Dumbarton Corridor Transportation Study, and will consider the study's recommendations for the rail corridor. The study's recommendations for expanded bus service and improvements to the highway bridge are being further evaluated through the Metropolitan Transportation Commission's Dumbarton Forward program.
The Dumbarton Rail Corridor is a critical connector between residential neighborhoods in the East Bay and job centers on the San Francisco Peninsula. Together, the District and CBTP are exploring new, environmentally appropriate alternatives for a high quality, high-capacity public rail system. A strategic, community supported Dumbarton rail project could bring much-needed commute alternatives along with job and housing opportunities to the Bay Area.
Process / Timeline:
- Early 2021: Environmental Review Process (more info coming)
- Spring 2019: Kick-off Meetings with the Community
Environmental Review Process:
As the Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) lead agency, the District is responsible for the environmental review process and the certification of an Environmental Impact Report (EIR).
The District will prepare an EIR according to state requirements outlined in the CEQA and their Board of Supervisors will consider certification of the EIR. The project is also subject to the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA). The Federal Transit Administration (FTA) will be the lead federal agency for the project.
More information will be posted here prior to the beginning of the environmental review process.
- January 2020 Advisory Group Meetings - (Summary PDF)
- October 2019 Advisory Group Meetings - (Summary PDF)
- June 2019 Advisory Group Meetings - (Summary PDF)
- Spring 2019 Community Meetings - (Summary PDF)
Frequently Asked Questions:
The following FAQs are based upon commonly asked questions that arose during public introductory meetings in late February and early March in the East Bay and South San Francisco Peninsula communities, as well as questions submitted through the project website. The FAQs will be periodically updated as the project process progresses and additional questions arise.
Download Frequently Asked Questions (PDF, 467KB)
1. What is the purpose of the proposed project?
The objective of the Dumbarton Transportation Project is to enhance mobility between residential neighborhoods in the East Bay and job centers on the South San Francisco Peninsula.
2. Why is the project being brought forward now?
Improving transportation in this corridor has been a long-term goal of the community. There is particular momentum for the project now because:
- The Metropolitan Transportation Commission (MTC) has set out $130 million for Dumbarton Corridor improvements in Regional Measure 3 (RM3).
- San Mateo County Measure W was approved, which provides $240 million for Intercity Rail Service. The Dumbarton Corridor may be eligible for some of these funds.
3. What is the role of the partners (Plenary, Facebook and the District)?
CBTP executed an Exclusive Negotiating Agreement (ENA) in August 2018 with the San Mateo Transit District (District) to facilitate due diligence on the technical and financial feasibility of the DTC project. Such agreements are commonly used by public agencies to jointly develop real property with a private partner. If the project is deemed feasible, and all parties agree to move forward, CBTP and the District would enter into a long-term lease agreement whereby CBTP could design-build-finance-operate and maintain the transit solution.
District: The District owns the existing rail corridor. It and the Federal Lead Agency have ultimate authority to approve or deny the project based on CEQA and NEPA findings.
Facebook: Facebook will be an active co-developer of the project, contributing its technical, financial and real estate development expertise.
Plenary: Plenary will lead the development of the transit components of the project and will contribute its infrastructure development and financing expertise.
Both Facebook and Plenary may be investors in the project.
4. What is an Exclusive Negotiating Agreement?
An Exclusive Negotiating Agreement (ENA) is an agreement in which two parties, in this case the public owner of real property and a private partner interested in developing that property, agree on a period of time for exclusive negotiations and due diligence investigations.
The ENA does not commit either party to sell or lease property or enter into any other transaction, it simply sets out a framework for future negotiations. Typically, it will also allocate responsibility for the cost of such negotiations and investigations. The exclusivity is necessary in order to allow the private partner to commit the resources necessary to conduct a thorough investigation of the project’s feasibility.
5. What will happen during the ENA period?
Three major activities will occur during the ENA period:
- The District will be the lead (certifying) agency of an Environmental Impact Report, to be completed according to state and federal requirements (i.e. the California Environmental Quality Act (“CEQA”). The project will adhere to the National Environmental Policy Act (“NEPA”). CBTP will work closely with the District to identify all reports and studies required by CEQA and NEPA. A public outreach program will be conducted in parallel to CEQA/NEPA documentation.
- The District and CBTP will assemble a team of industry-leading advisors to undertake a variety of technical studies including engineering, design and operations analyses that will be included in the CEQA/NEPA process. CBTP will take the lead to manage the team and complete all of the work necessary for the technical studies and reports.
- CBTP will concurrently undertake internal financial analysis to evaluate the economic viability of the project. The results of the technical studies will serve as key inputs to this analysis.
At the end of the ENA period, the District and CBTP will be able to jointly determine if the project is technically and financially feasible.
6. What is a P3 and why is it being considered for the proposed project?
A P3 (Public-Private Partnership) is a partnership between a public entity, such as the District, and the private sector to build infrastructure like roads, public transit, or government buildings like schools or civic centers.
The public sector retains ownership of the asset, but passes the risk of developing, designing, building, operating, financing, and maintaining the public infrastructure to the private sector through a long-term project agreement. Payments to the private sector are then tied to the long-term performance and condition of the infrastructure, providing a financial incentive to ensure optimal asset performance.
The public sector remains the owner of the infrastructure, and the asset is handed back to the owner at the expiry of the project agreement.
Benefits of P3s include:
- Lower long-term costs due to optimization of: whole-of-life costs encompassing: construction, operations, and renewal.
- Guaranteed outcomes for public sector (no construction or operations risk).
- Higher on-time and on-budget performance due to risk transfer to private sector.
- Higher long-term budget and asset condition/operation certainty from the risk transfer to the private sector.
7. What experience/knowledge/expertise does Plenary bring to the table?
Plenary is a leading US-based long-term investor, developer and manager of public infrastructure. We are recognized for our holistic approach to projects – embracing finance, planning, design and construction, complementary commercial development, asset management and operations. Currently, we are constructing or operating eight transit/rail projects and a total of 46 infrastructure P3s globally, with an approximate value of $25 billion. Plenary has expertise in all aspects of infrastructure development, including early partnership with clients to define and then implement financially feasible projects that benefit local communities.
8. Who else (besides Facebook and Plenary) are on the CBTP team?
Facebook and Plenary are the sole investors in CBTP. To provide support in the early stages of project development, we are bringing together a select group of legal, procurement and technical advisors. Additional capabilities will be provided by selected industry-leading consultants and advisors who are currently being selected through a competitive process.
9. What is the estimated cost?
We are currently in the project definition phase and are evaluating multiple alternatives. Project cost estimates are not yet available.
10. How will this project be funded?
Infrastructure projects of this size typically require a wide variety of public and private funding sources. As part of the technical and financial feasibility studies, CBTP will investigate funding alternatives in detail. No final decisions have been made on funding at this time.
11. Is this just a private rail line for Facebook employees?
No. SamTrans involvement ensures that this is a public transportation project. If this project moves forward, it would be open to the general public and become part of the regional transportation system.
12. What is the proposed project area?
13. What were the primary recommendations from the Corridor Study completed in 2017?
The assessment considered mobility, cost-effectiveness, environmental, financial and safety implications. The recommended long-term solution focuses on phased improvements to both the Dumbarton Highway and Rail Bridges as well as local roadways and bus routes.
14. Will there be other opportunities for the public to learn more and provide input?
Yes, both CBTP and the District are committed to ongoing community outreach and opportunities for input with respect to any future project(s) to be developed in the corridor. In addition, decisions by the District and other relevant jurisdictions will be subject to the requirements of the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA), including public notice and opportunities for comment. Future project activities will be advertised via local media channels, the project website, social media pages of local agencies and jurisdictions, and emails to community members who subscribed to receive project updates.
15. What will happen after the CEQA/NEPA process has been completed?
After the environmental review is completed, CBTP and the District will make a go/no-go decision based on the technical and financial feasibility of the project.
16. Is the project only going to be rail?
CBTP and the District are reviewing a range of feasible technologies which includes, but is not limited to rail.
17. Will there be a bike lane on the bridge?
In addition to the range of feasible technologies, we will be studying the potential for a bike lane on the bridge.
18. Will there be noise from the train at my house?
We will be reviewing a range of potential technologies and design alternatives and through the environmental review process will analyze potential impacts that could result from project implementation.
The environmental review process will identify potential consequences of project alternatives, such as noise, and will offer strategies to mitigate such impacts.
19. Have you considered a connection to ACE or Caltrain?
Building on the 2017 District’s Dumbarton Transportation Corridor Study, our current vision involves a multi-modal approach, including new transit service across the Bay and connections with existing transit services.
20. Where can I find out more information about the project? Is there a project website or a contact person?
The District will have the project website, with contact information. CBTP will continue to maintain the website at www.crossbaytransit.com and will include links to the District’s project website. In addition, timely public updates will be provided through print (e.g., direct mail) and online platforms (e.g., social media, email, and website).
21. How can I provide input on the project?
There will be opportunities to provide input through the environmental review public comment process, including public meetings. Information on when and how to provide public comment will be available through the SamTrans and CBTP websites.
22. What will you do with my input?
Input received in the preliminary public meetings will be compiled for consideration and investigation as the team develops the details of the potential project and project alternatives.
23. What types of things/project elements are you looking for public input on?
CBTP and the District would like to hear concerns the local residents and stakeholders have regarding the Dumbarton Transportation Corridor about transportation needs, transit options and potential impacts from existing or anticipated transportation activities. The goal is to develop a project that is appropriate for the communities affected.
24. Will the train system be light rail or diesel?
At this point in project development, CBTP and the District are exploring a range of options, including innovative and clean technologies.
- Project Fact Sheet (PDF February 2020)
- Cross Bay Transit Partners Website
- Summary of Notes from October Advisory Group Meetings (PDF)
- Summary of Notes from June Advisory Group Meetings (PDF)
- Summary of Notes from Early 2019 Community Meetings (PDF)
- Agreement between District and CBTP (PDF)
- Previous 2016, San Mateo County Transit District Dumbarton Rail Corridor Study
- MTC Dumbarton Forward Project