Caltrain: Expect more consistency in bike car configurations

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Thursday, March 05, 2009
By Yokota Fritz


At the Caltrain Joint Powers Board meeting today in San Carlos, CA, operations staff told board members they would make a best effort to configure two bike cars on consistent trains.

For northbound trains, these will "almost always" be on trains 207, 211, 217, 231, 261, 267, 275, 277, 383, 287. FWIW, I consistently see bumps on northbound 323, 225 and 329 in the South Bay, generally in Sunnyvale or Mountain View.

Southbound trains with two bike cars will be trains 210, 312, 216, 220, 228, 230, 362, 266, 372, 378, 386. In the evening, I sometimes ride #266 (got bumped once last summer), and I can almost count on getting bumped from 264, 368 and 372 in Palo Alto when the weather is nice.

Boarding NB Caltrain at Palo Alto


The two bike cars are not guaranteed as Caltrain may be constrained by equipment malfunctions and "other operational needs." According to information from today's meeting and now published on Caltrain's website, these trains will consistently be Gallery or "old style" trains, which have a much higher capacity that the newer Bombardier cars.

At the meeting, Caltrain staff also said they have signs planned that can be mounted to the front of the train so cyclists waiting on the platform can see if an approaching train has one or two bike cars.

Caltrain also said they plan to convert the two non-bike cab cars in the fleet into bike cars as funding becomes available. Currently, two of the Bombardier cab cars are not bike cars.

Finally, Caltrain staff said they have a design in mind so that bike capacity can be increased to 24 on the Bombardier cars that sacrifices only four seats, instead of eight seats as originally thought.

Thank you to Murph for liveblogging this information from the JPB meeting this morning. Thank you also to Ravi for publishing some of the updates to Twitter/bikecar.

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Comments:
My opening quote "I am very excited and optimistic about what I heard from Mr Harvey, but I am also keenly aware that this is only happening because we have been riding you guys for the last year"
 
uhhh.. so they will NOT be consistently having 2 bike cars on 329, 323 OR 225?

fantastic.
 
Kit - you got that wrong...

They will be consistently NOT HAVING 2 bike cars on 329, 323, or 225. The trains listed indicate where they will be shipping the 2 car consists up and down the peninsula - if the train is not on that list it will almost never have two bike cars.

Now, they could not just cherry pick the best runs because the trains actually have to be running up and down the peninsula, but what is annoying is that Caltrain chose the trains to target from data on bumps taken last September. More accurate data could come from a survey of bikers asking them - "If you could take any train you like - which would you take?" Less people get bumped from 369 in Palo Alto specifically because the PA people know the train will most likely be full at Mountain View. So more bumps are recorded from 267 - it becomes a more popular train because it's less likely to be overfull.

Of course this concept would never occur to Caltrain because they aren't that observant, and they don't ask for help. That was the theme of my rant today.
 
Kit: It looks like you can expect to be see bumps on a consistent basis on the express and limited trains at Sunnyvale at Mountain View. Only single bike cars for the trains you take to the City.
 
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