Category: transit

Tips for public transit

I was spaced out after a long day of work last night, sitting on the train and staring out the window. A vague click of “that’s strange” popped in my mind as we passed an Amtrak Capitol Corridor stopped on the tracks south of Santa Clara. I woke up a little when I saw the guy hosing the tracks down and thought “that’s strange,” and finally realized what must have happened when I saw guys in police jackets walking across the tracks. There was, unfortunately, a fatality when the Amtrak Capitol Corridor struck a guy walking on the tracks near the College Park train station.

Text message Caltrain delays

My southbound train wasn’t delayed much, but Amtrak had to set up a bus bridge from San Jose to Great America, and northbound Caltrain was delayed up to an hour. I Twittered the delay, but I don’t know how many train riders follow my Twitter feed. Afterwards, I discovered the Caltrain information Twitter, through which multiple train riders can post information about Caltrain delays. Thank you to 295 Bus Blog for this good tip. This is not a Caltrain service, but one provided by cooperating train riding volunteers.

Transit schedules on your phone / PDA

Noah keeps photos of transit schedules in his mobile phone for easy access when he needs to catch the bus. A thought I had: grab a text version of bus and train schedules you’re interested in and message them to your phone. I have a current Caltrain schedule pasted to the back of my office door for quick access.

Caltrain multiple bike cars

If your eyes are sharp, you can see if a Caltrain consist is equipped with a second bike car, especially on the old “Gallery” car trains. All bike cars are also cab cars, which is the car in the lead when the locomotive pushes the train. The cab cars (and bike cars) have rear view mirrors at the end of the car, and the front window of cab cars are also much shorter than normal. Look for the mirror sticking out from the side of the train and you’ve found the second bike car.

Crazy bus passenger

Santa Cruz metro bus crashed into hill - taken from A whacked out bus passenger on the 91 commuter express between Watsonville and Santa Cruz, CA grabbed the bus steering wheel and crashed the bus into the adjacent hillside in Santa Cruz County.

The unnamed passenger saw his girlfriend’s car in — get this — a suspected DUI accident on the side of Highway 1 south of Santa Cruz. He demanded to be let off immediately, but when the bus driver told the passenger he would be let off at the next exit, the passenger grabbed the steering wheel and steered the bus into the hill. The passenger was arrested almost immediately, I’d guess by law enforcement officers who were already at the scene of the earlier accident. What a piece of work. Read more in the Santa Cruz Sentinel.

I had a nice quiet ride home on my commuter bus this evening 🙂

Amtrak strike would impact Caltrain, other commuter rail services

Update: Strike Averted — “Amtrak and nine of its unions have reached a tentative contract agreement, according to industry experts, and plan to announce the settlement on Friday.

A possible strike by Amtrak workers on January 30 would stop commuter rail service in the San Francisco Bay Area as well commuter rail service in the areas around Chicago, New York City, Boston, Virginia, Connecticut, the District of Columbia, Maryland, and Philadelphia. Thank you to Jennifer for the heads up.

SF Examiner: Amtrak strike would derail Caltrain service.

Associated Press: Rail Strike Would Be Commuter Nightmare.

Associated Press lists commuter rail services that would be impacted by an Amtrak strike. Chicago Metra, Long Island Rail Road, Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority, Maryland MARC, Virginia Railway Express, Connecticut Shore Line East, and San Francisco Bay Area Caltrain are either operated by Amtrak employees or use facilities controlled by Amtrak and would be impacted by the strike.

Chicago Tribune: Specter of Amtrak strike has commuters bracing for shutdowns.

Chicago Business News: Amtrak strike could close Union Station to Metra riders.

Newsday: Amtrak strike would derail LIRR riders at 5 stops.

NJ Transit issues strike warning. Amtrak strike could shut 6 SEPTA lines.

Boston: Amtrak strike could cripple commuter rail service.

VTA: Big route and schedule changes on Monday

Remember, Santa Clara Valley Transportation Authority has big changes in routes and scheduling that begin Monday morning, January 14, 2008. While VTA will provide more frequent service on a number of bus lines and convert a number of routes to “Community Bus Service” using smaller buses, several routes have also been eliminated, shortened and combined with other routes. Route 60, for example, will not continue south beyond the Winchester Transit Center, and Route 22 will no longer serve the Menlo Park Caltrain Station. Visit the VTA website (which has been significantly redesigned) for details.

Public transportation to MacWorld

Apple fans heading to the annual Macworld Conference and Expo at the Moscone Center Jan. 14 – 18 can focus on technology rather than traffic and parking by taking Caltrain to The City.

Attendees of the week-long conference will find Caltrain’s 96 weekday trains a convenient way to avoid the city’s traffic and parking hassles. All northbound trains end at the San Francisco Caltrain Station at Fourth and King streets. From there, passengers can either walk to Moscone Center, approximately six blocks away, or they can catch either of Muni’s 30 or 45 lines, which stop right across from the train station on Fourth Street. They can get off at Third and Folsom, and the Moscone Center is just a block away at 747 Howard St.

The last southbound train leaves San Francisco at 12:01 a.m., which leaves plenty of time for the most ardent Mac user to spend a full day at the expo and spend some time sight-seeing or dining in The City as well.

Secure bicycle parking is available at the new bike station at the 4th & King Caltrain Station in San Francisco. Caltrain schedule and fare information is available at Caltrain website. Leave a comment here at Cyclelicious if you have a specific question about riding Caltrain.

BART considers increased bike lockers fees

The Bay Area Rapid Transit system considered increasing the annual locker fees charged at BART stations and introducing an hourly charge for lockers with electronic locks. For details, read the Examiner.

Infrequent BART users should also be warned that BART recently changed its service to SFO Airport. You can no longer head straight to SFO from Millbrae Caltrain, but now must go to San Bruno then backtrack to the airport. Regular travelers to SFO have discovered it’s faster to get off Caltrain in Hillsdale then take a bus to the airport.

Caltrain: Cyclists turned away as ridership surges

From the San Jose Mercury News:

It’s 5:15 p.m., rush hour at Caltrain’s Hillsdale station in San Mateo. Among the dozens of riders arrayed across the platform to catch the northbound “Baby Bullet” express train, the most watchful are the bicyclists.

They’re hoping they don’t get turned away.

Ridership is soaring amid high gas prices and global warming fears. The bicycle program is a well-established hit, with about one in 15 Caltrain riders bringing their wheels on board. Caltrains are getting so crowded at peak commute hours that not everyone’s bike can fit on board. So when a Baby Bullet pulls out of the station, a handful of the rail line’s most dedicated customers are left in the cold.

Read the full story in the Mercury News. I ride Caltrain daily on my commute and I’m amazed at how crowded the bike car remains. This morning, many of the usual riders were on the train in spite of the rain and cooler weather. I took the below photo in the summer of 2006 — the bike car now looks like this in winter 2007.

Full bike car

The Highway 17 Express bus from Santa Cruz to San Jose also remains crowded, although in the winter I’m often the only cyclist. Now that we have WiFi, incidents like this 14 car pileup this morning means I sit longer on the bus hooked to the Internet.

If you take public transportation for your commute, are you seeing similar ridership increases in your area?

Caltrain: 2 more trains on weeknights

Holidays are over Caltrain announced a proposed schedule change effective in March 2008 that will add one southbound and one northbound train during week nights.

The northbound 191, which currently leaves San Jose Diridon at 8:10 p.m., will be moved to 7:30, with subsequent northbound trains leaving at 8:30, 9:30 and 10:30 p.m.

Southbound 190, which currently leaves San Francisco 4th & King at 7:20 p.m., will leave 10 minutes later at 7:30 p.m., with subsequent trains at 8:30, 9:30, 10:30. The final train to leave the city will still be scheduled for departed at 12:01 a.m.

The schedule changes are prompted by record ridership this year on Caltrain, with standing room only on the busier commute time trains.

Visit Caltrain’s website to see the proposed schedule changes for March 2008. Caltrain is seeking public comment on the proposed changes at public meetings next Tuesday, November 27 from 5:30 p.m. to 7 p.m. The meetings will be held at San Francisco 4th & King, Caltrain’s administrative offices at 1250 San Carlos Avenue in San Carlos, and at San Jose Diridon Station. Caltrain is also accepting comments on the proposed changes via email at caltraincomments (at) caltrain dot com.

More Caltrain news:

    Caltrain schedules are now in Google Transit. Here are the transit directions from San Francisco 4th and King to the Googleplex in Mountain View, California.

  • The Caltrain Holiday Train makes an appearance on the weekend of December 7 – 9 at various stations in the Bay Area.
  • Caltrain reminds travelers to take Caltrain to avoid traffic and parking hassles when flying from SFO or SJC.
  • Caltrain will run on a Sunday schedule on Thanksgiving Day, and a regular weekday schedule on the Friday after Thanskgiving. Take the train to the City for your Black Friday Christmas shopping.