The 130-year old Peninsula commuter line has many historic depots on its route that have been carefully preserved, many of which have been recognized as historic landmarks.
For much of the first century of its operation, the Southern Pacific Railroad owned these stations and operated the Peninsula commuter rail from San Francisco to San Jose. With the construction of the Bayshore freeway in 1954, passenger traffic began to steadily decline. In the 1970s, Southern Pacific actively sought to discontinue its operation of the commuter service, resulting in the State of California taking over responsibility for the service in 1980, but relying on Southern Pacific to continue to operate the service.
In January 1992, the Peninsula Corridor Joint Powers Board purchased the right-of-way from San Francisco to San Jose from Southern Pacific. At this time, service was extended from San Jose to Gilroy, resulting in several new stations being constructed. Initially the State of California’s Caltrans retained ownership of the historic Southern Pacific deports at Burlingame, Menlo Park, Millbrae, San Carlos, San Jose, and Santa Clara, and was responsible for their preservation, restoration, and maintenance. Subsequent to the restoration of these stations, title was transferred to the Joint Powers Board.
Local communities have typically been the driving force behind recent improvements to depots, such as at Belmont, Gilroy, Hayward Park, Mountain View, San Antonio, San Carlos, and San Mateo. Improvements to Millbrae, San Jose and Tamien, have been more driven by regional transit considerations.