By Yokota Fritz
The Portland, Oregon regional TriMet transit agency announced they will spend $1 million in Federal ARRA (stimulus) funds to expand and improve bike parking facilities throughout the Portland transit system. That $1 million will create 250 new bike parking spots at two stations and upgrade another 100 bike lockers at another station.
"More riders are using bikes to get to transit, and with limited options for bringing bikes on board, having more secure bike parking facilities helps to make the bike/transit connection work," said TriMet General Manager Fred Hansen.
Caltrain in the San Francisco Bay Area, in the meantime, will receive $200,000 in ARRA funds to add 8 additional bike spots on each of 32 bike cars. With at least 4 trips for each bike car during the work day, that's a capacity for over 1,000 more bicycles every day, and the work will be complete within the next 60 days.
Caltrain has provided four times the capacity of TriMet's bike parking at one fourth the cost and in less time.
Accommodating bikes on board transit is a win for transit agencies that serve suburban populations. Encouraging bikes on transit expands the pool of potential transit users significantly, probably more than any other accomodation you can make for the price.
Caltrain: Expect more consistency in bike car configurations
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.
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.
By Yokota FritzBah, the Caltrain meeting is this Thursday, in San Carlos. Not Wednesday in San Mateo. There's a reason my wife handles my appointments.
I'll I will not be at the Caltrain Joint Powers Board meeting tomorrow in San Mateo Thursday in San Carlos. While the Caltrain Bikes on Board program isn't directly on the agenda other than a rubberstamp approval to accept ARRA/stimulus money from the Federal government, a few other bike people will be there and it's important to keep the Caltrain Board updated on how the users of their system are faring.
Update: I changed my mind -- I won't be at this meeting. I'll be at the Santa Cruz County Regional Transportation Commission meeting instead, where they'll discuss how to spend the ARRA "stimulus" funds on transportation projects.
In February, the Caltrain board accepted a resolution to add more bike space to existing bike cars. About three weeks ago, a Gallery "old style" bike car appeared with 4 seats removed and two bike racks added. You'll see the extra racks toward the back of the car.
See also that these racks are shorter than the existing racks. According to Caltrain's Mark Simon, the shorter racks are to enable access to the emergency exit windows.
There's some concern that the shorter racks won't secure the bikes as well and may scratch the bike frames, though any bike on Caltrain will get scratched and dented no matter what. I've only seen the racks once (I got to the station early one morning and boarded four different trains looking for the modified gallery car) so I can't comment on how well these shorter racks work.
What are your thoughts on these experimental shorter racks?
California budget agreement eliminates transit funds
By Yokota Fritz
If the new proposal to bridge the state budget gap is adopted, public transit providers will be finished commiserating over ongoing state budget cuts.
That’s because the latest plan to emanate from the “Big 5” budget negotiators doesn’t just cut public transportation funding – it eliminates it.
STA fund uses
In the Bay Area, State Transit Assistance (STA) funds provide operational expenses for The Altamont Commuter Express Train. Santa Clara County VTA uses almost $10 million in STA funds to fund paratransit and other operations. Santa Cruz Metro receives about $2 million from the STA program. Monterey-Salinas Transit depends on STA for about 10% of their operating funds. San Benito County Transit will lose $200,000 of funding.
Already saddled with an 85 percent raid on available state funding sources via the budget adopted in September, transit operators throughout the state are now bracing for what has long been considered the “Armageddon” scenario – the abolition of the State Transit Assistance (STA) program, the only ongoing source of state funding for day-to-day transit operations. STA accounts for as much as 70 percent of the operating budgets of transit agencies in California.
Expected to be taken up during legislative floor sessions on Friday or over the weekend, the plan calls for $536 million in transit cuts, achieved through the cancellation of the remaining $230 million due to transit agencies from the September budget’s STA allotment of $306 million and the eradication of the entire $306 million in fiscal year 2009-10. The $306 million was established as a baseline figure after $1.8 billion in current-year transit-dedicated funds were diverted to fill non-transit holes in the General Fund.
Democratic leaders had originally sought to preserve the STA at a bare bones $150 million level, as contained in their December version of the budget. But the most recent reported agreement reveals an apparent capitulation to demands by Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger and Republican leaders to completely eliminate the program.
“Are Republicans and the Governor that bent on destroying public transit that this one last crumb of funding is really seen as making a significant difference in the budget crisis?” wondered Joshua Shaw, Executive Director of the California Transit Association. “And why after indicating all along that they understand the dire circumstances faced by transit providers throughout the state did the Democratic leadership ultimately cave?”
Shaw noted that transit agencies throughout the state have already enacted or contemplated combination of fare increases and service reductions to cope with the $3 billion in state funding that has been raided in just the last two years alone, and warned that more such drastic measures are on the way. “We will see fare increases. We will see service cuts. We will see layoffs,” he predicted. “I can say that with certainty simply because we’ve already seen those things happening even before the state apparently decided to abandon its responsibility to fund public transportation.”
By Yokota Fritz24 bikes on Bombardier cars, 40 bikes on Gallery cars
After long discussion and input from several cyclists, the Caltrain Joint Powers Board (JPB) decided to increase space for bikes on board Caltrain bike cars. The 'new style' Bombardier cab cars will have room for 24 bikes, up from 16; the 'old' Gallery cab cars will go from 32 bikes to 40 bikes. According to Caltrain Operations Director Chuck Harvey, Caltrain can have these higher capacity bike cars in service by April.
Mr. Harvey's recommendation to the JPB included removing all seats from the lower level of the 'Bomb' cars, leaving no room for cyclists to sit nearby. Almost every one of the two dozen cyclists who gave public comment expressed their concerns about theft in a configuration that the SFBC calls "Stand or Steal." Several people joined SFBC Program Director Andy Thornley and California Cyclist publisher Bob Mack and asking the board to consider an extra month of consideration.
The SFBC proposal for 80 bikes on board each Bomb consist was rejected for a number of reasons, including the desire to reduce risk by keeping changes to a minimum. Caltrain operations people are apparently big believers in the law of unintended consequences.
JPB member Ken Yeager of Santa Clara County, who is himself a regular bike commuter, introduced the compromise motion for 24 bike space, rejecting any delay because the immediate need for more capacity.
The JPB and Mr. Harvey made it clear that these are changes that can be made in the short term. With today's approval, Mr. Harvey says we can expect to see increased capacity beginning in April.
By Yokota Fritz
Tomorrow (Thursday, February 5, 2009) at 10 AM, the Caltrain Joint Powers Board meets to hear and consider various proposals that Caltrain staff will present on increasing bicycle capacity on board the trains. One of the proposals that Caltrain Operations Director Chuck Harvey and special assistant Mark Simon may give is increasing capacity on the 'new' Bombardier bike cars ('bomb cars') to 32 bikes by removing all seats from the lower level.
The San Francisco Bicycle Coalition Bikes On Board committee has come out strongly opposed to what they call "Stand or Steal." Because there are no seats on the bike level, cyclists will either need to stand for their entire trip, or sit out of view of their bikes, risking theft. SFBC member surveys show that bike theft is a major concern for their membership.
The San Francisco Bicycle Coalition counters with their own proposal: All bomb car sets will always have at least two bike cars, and increase bomb car bike capacity by removing seats and adding bike racks to the mezzanine levels. Eventually, the SFBC would like the lower level of all bomb cars converted to bike space.
There are some varying dynamics between morning southbound and northbound Caltrain passengers. In the mornings, relatively few passengers boarding at 4th and King in San Francisco have bikes, leaving hundreds of empty passenger seats, while cyclists are routinely bumped even in the winter. At the San Jose side of things, however, the passenger cars are jam packed, with more crowding on in Sunnyvale and Mountain View before they begin to detrain in Palo Alto and on the Peninsula. The bike cars also are full, but bumping typically doesn't begin until Sunnyvale on northbound trains.
What will the Silicon Valley Bicycle Coalition propose during tomorrow's meeting? As things currently stand, the SVBC will also reject "Stand or Steal" and insist on more bike cars on all trains to (1) deal with capacity issues and (2) make capacity more consistent. Currently, you don't know if you can expect 16 spaces or 64 spaces for bikes on a train. The SVBC will also encourage Caltrain to get creative to come up with some kind of real time notification system for those along the line.
Another idea that's been floated is increasing capacity on bomb cars to 24 bikes in the lower level; this means fewer seats, but at least a few will be available and a thief won't know if the bike owner is nearby or now.
Something I would personally like to see: Priority boarding for cyclists on the bike cars. Presently, non-cyclist passengers have boarding priority, and there's tremendous crowding at the bike car (always the north car) because that's the train car closest to shuttle bus stops. Cyclists are forced to wait for all other passengers to board because they don't have the option of boarding in another car, which increases dwell time, or the time the train sits at the station. If cyclists have boarding priority, the other passengers have the option of boarding at different cars. Furthermore, cyclists are more likely to find a seat on the bike car once they board.
Who's attending this meeting? I'll be at the Caltrain JPB meeting tomorrow with probably hundreds of other cyclists. Come early if you ride the train: I imagine the trains to San Mateo will be absolutely jam packed for this meeting.
If you show up at the JPB meeting, here are my endorsements:
Reject "Stand or Steal."
Insist on at least two bike cars on every Bombardier ('bomb') train set. Caltrain will need to rip seats out of additional cars for this to happen. Eventually, I think Caltrain should make every Bomb car a bike car on the lower level.
Additional room on Gallery (old style) cars by removing the lower seats.
Disclosure: I'm on the "Caltrain Working Group" for the Silicon Valley Bicycle Coalition. I mostly show up at meetings as people much smarter than me talk about the issues of bikes on board Caltrain.
By Yokota FritzThe process is moving quickly, so please act quickly!
An early draft of the economic stimulus bill made provision for funding transit operations in addition to spending on construction projects for a total of $20 billion for transit. In the horse trading that always occurs during the legislative process, the operations grant funding was eliminated altogether along with another $8 billion in transit construction (while highway spending wasn't decreased at all).
Transit systems nationwide struggle to finance their operations in spite of surging ridership. In the Monterey and San Francisco Bay Areas:
San Benito County Express in Hollister and San Juan Bautista raised fares 33% earlier this year and will reduce service 35% effective on February 1, with some routes eliminated entirely.
Monterey-Salinas Transit hiked fares 25% this month, though they were able to avoid service cuts.
BART projects an $80 million budget deficit over the next 18 months. The BART board is contemplating fare increases, charging more for parking, and eliminating planned extensions in Fremont and east Contra Costa County.
San Francisco Muni projects a $90 million budget shortfall over the next 18 months. SF MTA will discuss this at a special meeting on January 27.
SamTrans in San Mateo County (the Peninsula) will hike fares 17% in February.
Caltrain increased fares on January 1. Caltrain is the commuter rail service between San Francisco, San Jose, and Gilroy.
Some of the current problems are due to the budget logjam at the state level, but almost all San Francisco and Monterey Bay Area transit services depend on local taxes for part of their operating revenue. Santa Cruz Metropolitan Transit District, for example, reported sales tax revenue was more than $100,000 below budget for November 2008, and revenue is expected to drop off much more this year as Santa Cruz County unemployment now stands at 10%.
What good is an economic stimulus of workers can't get to their jobs, or can't afford the transportation to get there? John Kaehny writes this at Streetsblog:
Congress is fiddling with a 1950s-era stimulus package while America's transit systems burn. You name the city, and its transit system is falling off a financial cliff.
So despite big increases in transit ridership, many transit providers are cutting service and even laying off drivers. Yet not one cent from the $825 billion stimulus package would protect America's bus and subway riders from massive service cuts and fare hikes.
The stimulus package is political cognitive dissonance on an epic scale. The proposed stimulus plan not only shortchanges public transit overall, it provides zero aid for day-to-day operations.
Congressman Peter DeFazio (D-OR) plans to offer an amendment to return the $2 billion for operating assistance to the economic stimulus bill, on top of the $10 billion already in the bill for transit capital projects. DeFazio needs the support of the House Rules Committee to ensure that the amendment is in order. The House Rules Committee meets Tuesday at 3:30 PM to discuss this amendment.
The Democratic Party House Rules Committee members are Chairwoman Louise M. Slaughter (NY), Alcee Hastings (FL), Doris Matsui (CA), Dennis Cardoza (CA), Peter Welch (VT), Kathy Castor (FL), Michael Arcuri (NY), and Betty Sutton (OH). The GOP members of the Rules Committee are David Dreier (CA), Lincoln Diaz-Balart (FL), Doc Hastings (WA), and Pete Sessions (TX).
By Yokota Fritz
The Santa Clara County Registar reports Measure B is now (as I write this) at the required 66.67% approval required to pass by just eight votes as of Monday's tally. With thousands of ballots left to go, the VTA sales tax to fund BART to Fremont is too close to call.
Here's my prediction if the final count shows this sales tax passing if Federal funds are received to fund the BART extension in to San Jose and Santa Clara.
* The sales tax revenue projections will be off by as much as 50%. The projections assume a growing economy, which is not what will have for the next couple of years. VTA announces service cuts on its existing bus and light rail lines and reduces funding for Caltrain.
* Finance costs will be much higher than projected because of the credit crunch. VTA announces more service cuts on bus and light rail lines.
* Construction costs is a hard one to call. This may be less expensive than projected because of an good supply of labor and construction materials. On the other hand, much higher costs for raw materials may offset some of that.
* Once operation begins, ridership and revenue will be far below projections, forcing VTA to cut service elsewhere in the system just like SamTrans had to do. VTA will eliminate all funding for Caltrain.
* Carl Guardino and all of those other Measure B promoters will still drive their cars to work, if they're still employed in the Bay Area when the BART extension is complete ten years from now.
By Yokota Fritz
Southbound Baby Bullet train number 312 struck a big rig near the Broadway station in Burlingame this morning, delaying up to 15,000 commuters as Caltrain singletracked around the mess.
The tail of the big rig was reportedly hanging over the tracks when the express train screamed through the intersection. Witnesses say the gate crossing and signals were all working when the idiot truck driver, who suffered minor injuries, tried to beat the train through the crossing.
By Yokota Fritz
Benjamin Damm submitted this photo to the Caltrain board today showing the load on the bike car and a regular passenger car on a couple of morning trains out of San Francisco.
This photo posted by Murph to Holier Than You. Cyclists planned to attend today's Caltrain Joint Powers Board meeting en masse to call attention to what they feel is Caltrain's misdirected focus on improving bicycle access and parking, rather than the successful bikes on board program.
Personally, I'm close giving up on bringing my bike on the train. The evening bus schedule for the final leg of my commute changed just slightly so that I must now leave work a half hour earlier than before just so I can be home at the same time, which really really reeks. I'll probably do like my friend Dan does, who leaves a bike locked at both ends of his commute. I just don't care for the idea of leaving a bike locked overnight every night in Palo Alto. I'm now looking forward to the rainy season, which should put a significant dent in the number of cycling commuters on the train.
Caltrain Bicycle Access and Parking Plan now online
By Yokota Fritz
As I reported last month, Caltrain renamed their much maligned Bicycle Master Plan the "Bicycle Access and Parking Plan." The draft version of Caltrain's Bicycle Access and Parking Plan is now available online. Previously, you had to be on the Silicon Valley Board of Directors to see this plan.
The San Francisco Bicycle Coalition response to this proposed "Access and Parking Plan" highlights the lack of any thought at all to increase capacity on board. At a recent Caltrain Joint Powers Board meeting, several train riding bicyclists spoke up to the Directors on the need to increase bike capacity.
By Yokota Fritz
Urban Costume Karaoke Bicycle Brigade: Tomorrow in Dolores Park.
Santa Cruz rail line to be purchased. The Santa Cruz Regional Transportation Commission agreed yesterday to pay Union Pacific $14.2 million for the 32 mile stretch of railroad from Davenport to Watsonville. County residents already use the railroad right of way for bicycling and walking, and Union Pacific has apparently been worried about liability, while enforcing their property rights results in criticism from the community. The county plans to establish and rail trail along the railroad while operating a recreational rail service along the corridor. The rail trail will become part of the Monterey Bay Sanctuary Scenic Trail Network. Union Pacific currently runs three freight round trips each week on this branch line.
Chinese Acrobats at the Santa Cruz Boardwalk. Watch acrobats perform at the Beach Bandstand area of the Santa Cruz Boardwalk Sundays through Thursdays until August 21. Shows are at Noon and 3pm Monday through Thursday, Noon and 6pm on Sundays. Their gig includes tricks with bicycles. Shows are free.
Caltrain updates, etc.
The Caltrain Joint Powers Board met yesterday. Some quick notes.
Some 20+ cyclists showed up to give their input on the Bicycle Master Plan. Caltrain staff proposes adoption of the plan (which doesn't address capacity), but JPB directors seem to "get" the idea now that capacity should not only be maintained, but even expanded.
San Francisco Bicycle Coalition has taken the lead among Bay Area bicyclist advocacy groups in pushing Caltrain to adopt a plan that better services bicyclists. SFBC published their own Caltrain bike plan online (PDF), as well as a rebuttal to Caltrain's bike program FAQ.
SF Examiner looks at the issue of charging extra to bring bikes on board Caltrain. “I’m not crazy about that idea,” Caltrain boardmember Jerry Hill said. “We want to encourage people to use their bicycle, and during peak commute is when people need transit. Many people who ride bicycles don’t have the luxury of having other forms of transportation and I don’t think we should penalize them for doing the right thing.”
In other business, the JPB voted to increase Caltrain fares after public hearings. While Caltrain reported record ridership of nearly 12 million riders from July 1, 2007 to June 30, 2008, increasing fuel prices impact Caltrains operating budget. "Even though the ridership is up," says JPB vice chair Don Gage, "it's still not enough to keep up with the rising gas costs."
Peninsula cities don't want High Speed Rail and are joining a lawsuit against the California High Speed Rail Authority. Boo to them.
VTA Watch examines the proposed 1/8 cent tax to bring BART to Santa Clara. Hurray to Palo Alto councilor Yoriko Kishimoto, who speaks out against bringing BART to San Jose.
A 'suspicious device' was reported at the parking garage next to the Sunnyvale Caltrain station late Wednesday night. Officials closed the garage to public access and the Santa Clara County Sheriff closed the Sunnyvale Caltrain station at 10 PM. Caltrain established a bus bridge between Mountain View and Lawrence Avenue. At midnight the bomb squad determined the 'device' was not dangerous and allowed people access to their vehicles in the garage. Caltrain operated normally the next morning.
By Yokota Fritz
Yes, you can receive information about Caltrain bike cars in real time on your phone or other mobile device. Here's the step-by-step guide to receiving Caltrain bike car information below the photo.
Update: Ravi (who provides this community supported Caltrain update service) wrote his own "Getting Started" guide. His his better, I think. Mine is wordier. Both will get you there.
2. After signing up and logging in to Twitter, visit the Devices page, fill in the details of your mobile device and follow the instructions to activate receiving "tweets" to your phone. Set "Device Updates" to "ON." Note you can also limit the times when you receive messages from Twitter.
3. While logged in to Twitter, visit the Twitter Bike Car page, click "Follow" and set "Device Updates" to "ON." After this you should start receiving bike car messages to your phone.
4. You can expect to receive about a dozen bike car messages per day. Keep this in mind if you pay for each short message received.
5. You probably ride the same 2 or 3 trains every day. LEARN THE TRAIN NUMBERS of the trains you ride. The last two digits of the train number are mounted on the mirror of the front car or locomotive. For example, northbound train #329 will have "29" in big black numbers on both front mirrors on the cab car.
6. Let the other cyclists on the platform know when you receive an update.
Volunteers (I'm one of them) provide the updates who enter this information, so you may or may not get bike car status for your train. I'm posting this mostly for the benefit of those passengers I see boarding in Sunnyvale or Mountain View every morning. They obviously don't see the bike car status I just sent 10 minutes beforehand. You can pretty much count on status for one or more of northbound trains 225, 227, or 329 each morning.
More techno-nerd information about this community supported service is at Ravi's website, who set it all up in the first place. Thanks Ravi!
By Yokota FritzNorthbound. A broken rail near Morgan Hill, California delayed northbound Caltrain service this morning, with trains originating in Gilroy delayed up to an hour as passengers were bused around the breakage. Passengers crowded onto unfamiliar trains as dispatchers combined multiple routes into single trains. The break, which is also holding up freight rail traffic, was discovered early this morning by Union Pacific.
Fritz of Cyclelicious was among the first to tweet the breakage to the Caltrain Twitter feed and providing train delay information even before the platform announcements were made.
Today also marks the first time I've heard reasonably accurate delay announcements over the PA speakers at the train stations. In the past, the delays have always been very vague such as "expect delays of up to an hour." This morning, the announcer actually announced train numbers and approximate delays in minutes! Kudos to Caltrain for this.
Southbound. Some southbound trains were also delayed after the engine on train 324 quit working. Southbound trains behind #24 were forced to wait while train number 226 coupled up to the disabled train to push it out of the way. Caltrain Tweeters report southbound trains are running as much as an hour late. If somebody has photos of the two trains #24 & #26 coupled together I'd love to see those pictures; please leave a link in the comments.
To receive real time updates on Caltrain issues on your phone, sign up to Twitter and "follow" Twitter Caltrain. Be sure also to set up Twitter and your mobile device to send and receive these updates from Twitter. An analogous bike car info service is Twitter Bike Car. Click here for information on how to contribute to these Twitter feeds.
By Yokota Fritz
The board of the directors of the Silicon Valley Bicycle Coalition met over the weekend to create a response to the draft of the Bicycle Master Plan proposed by Caltrain. The SVBC put the position paper online and is seeking member input, both online and in person. The SVBC Board will have a meeting on Thursday July 10th at 6pm at Kapp's Pizza Bar & Grill i Mountain View specifically for the purpose of discussing the Caltrain Bicycle Master Plan with the membership.
Activist Jym Dyer of San Francisco posted his thoughts to the SFBIKE list on the role of advocacy and what he believes should be done to improve the Caltrain Bicycle Master Plan. I reproduce them below with his permission. Remember, Caltrain is accepting comments on the draft plan until July 3.
Bikes on board is a success that built Caltrain's ridership, enhanced its reputation, and has been studied by transit systems all over the nation. Yet Caltrain overlooked the fact that their newer trains will only hold half as many bikes, and again failed to give the program any consideration when working on the current "Bike Master Plan." They didn't even *try* to maintain, much less enhance, this program; in fact their stated goal is to achieve a bike rider share of 5%, which is terrible given that they have already achieved a share of 7%. (7% is a figure for February and serves as an underestimate for warmer months.)
An activist's role to provide vision and push to have it implemented. That's exactly what Cap Thomas and others did to make bikes on board a reality, and then to make it a success. Our vision must include context that Caltrain is overlooking. Allow me to suggest three "big picture" puzzle pieces:
(1) A bike+train combination gets you door to door, making it the *only* option that matches the (heavily-subsidized) convenience of cars for these distances. That's why bikes on board has been such a success. That's why whittling away at this convenience with schemes like requiring two bikes and locker rentals, charging fees to reserve spaces, and the current failure to provide capacity, are all bad ideas.
(2) Bikers actually make the least demands on transit overall. Non-biking riders generally require parking, buses, and/or shuttles, burdening roads and/or transit systems. Usually the comparison is made between bikers "needing more" than other riders, but that only makes sense if the other riders are all walking at both ends of the train journey, and the number of people who can do that is extremely small -- much smaller than the number who can bike at both ends.
(3) From the public meetings I attended, I got the feeling that this "master plan" is driven by the type of funding Caltrain goes after. They apply for "pilot" project grants, use them to try something out for 3 years or so, then let it whither. This results in disjoint, wasteful policy. I don't see why they can't go after "project" grants to enhance an existing success story, taking a proactive role in making a case for it, if necessary.
By Yokota Fritz
Thursday, June 19 is free transit day in the San Francisco Bay Area. Transit will be free until noon on BART, Caltrain, ACE Train, Amtrak Capitol Corridor, and the Bay ferries. Transit will be free all day on all participating Bay Area bus and light rail providers. See this page for details.
I can't decide whether to bring a folder and ride the train to take photos and video of the insanity, or to just enjoy myself and ride my bike the entire distance.
Which should I do? What will you do?
Bring a folding bike and document the fun on Caltrain.
Avoid Caltrain altogether and ride my bike the distance from San Jose to Palo Alto.
By Yokota Fritz
There's been a lot of discussion this week on the SVBC and SFBike lists about Caltrain's Bicycle Master Plan. The first public is tonight in San Carlos; I plan to attend the Monday evening in Mountain View if I can get out of work early enough.
Some points to discuss and consider:
Because transit connections to get commuters the last mile from the train station to work or home are often non-existent or poorly connected in the Bay Area, bicycles enable commuters to bridge that gap from home to the station and from the station to work. I can get to work without a bike, but doing this adds 30 minutes to my already long commute (from the walking and waiting for connections) and reduces my flexibility dramatically -- I must leave work earlier and I get home later.
Caltrain is getting very crowded with bicyclists and non-cyclists. Even trains that previously were nearly empty in the past are at capacity these days, especially on the bike cars.
Caltrain claims they can't increase bike capacity without reducing capacity for other passengers. Walking passengers are never bumped, though, even at the most crowded. If bike capacity is increased at the expense of seat space, there is still room for non-cycling passengers, even if many of them need to stand in the aisles (like cyclists are needing to do now).
Caltrain estimates that boarding bikes adds about 250 hours of delay per year, because cyclists take longer to board than other passengers. The dramatic drop in on time performance in 2008 is probably due mostly to increased use of Caltrain by bicyclists.
Caltrain plans to electrify by 2014, so they're reluctant to simply add cars that will be unusable by Caltrain in a few years. Adding cars to diesel train consists also slows service and impacts schedules.
According to Caltrain, about 9% of train commuters ride their bikes to Caltrain, with 1 to 2% locking them at the station and the remainder bringing them on board. 37% drive to the station or are dropped off; 19% use other transit; 29% walk and 8% use a free shuttle.
There are 1,900 bike parking spaces along the entire Caltrain system, which is not nearly enough these days. At San Jose Diridon Station, for example, there are 24 bike lockers and zero bike racks. Compare that to 600 car parking spots at that station. If we use the current ratio of 1 bike rider for every 3 motorists, there should be 200 bike parking spots at San Jose Diridon. Adding secure bike parking is very inexpensive compared to adding car parking, yet car parking is available at below market rates and even free at some stations.
Many (most?) cyclists are unwilling to leave their bikes locked up overnight, and many are unable or unwilling to spend the money for a second bike, which is what would be required for many commuters to get to work.
Caltrain says they want to increase the number of cyclists biking to the train station, but because bike capacity on board is maxed out they want to encourage bike parking. Some of the other ideas they plan to present include bike sharing and a folding bike subsidy.
Caltrain bike pain elsewhere:
Green Caltrain: "The Bicycle Master Plan, unfortunately, will be a big disappointment for some bicyclists who want to see more bike capacity on trains. The plan focuses primarily on bike parking issues. For various reasons, Caltrain is putting the controversial issue of bicycles on trains off the table."
295Bus on the new Entry/Exit door labels on Caltrain Bombardier bike cars.
Sub20OLH had been ranting a lot about Caltrain this last week:
A new day: "Caltrain needs some more funding - now. I definitely want them to get a little smarter - but the system is breaking down."
Bumped: "I was late because I was bumped at Mountain View from the 5:03 train. I had to wait for the 5:37, and made it on but 10 others were bumped. That train then bumped 10 at Menlo, and 10 at Redwood City..."
Caltrain falling apart: "Why are they late? Dwell time is through the roof. Caltrain is surely blaming the cyclists. The conductors are surly. What is going on?"
The Itinerant Cyclist goes bumpity bumpity: "Train 227 gets to Mountain View about 10 minutes late, I am early enough to catch it, but the house is over full so I take the gentle push to stay behind rather than fight for one of the spots standing in the vestibule. Train 231, my normal train, is due in just a few minutes anyway. Then 231 shows up with Bombardier equipment and only 1 bike car, so max of 16 bikes total on the train and there are 15 on the platform waiting to board. So it was waiting another 20 minutes for the next train, which had room for only 13 bikes and there were about 18 on the platform. But I fought this one out and got on that train."
By Yokota FritzFirst meeting Thursday, June 12 in Santa RosaSan Carlos
Nearly 2,400 customers bring their bikes on board Caltrain each weekday. Caltrain runs out of space these days as demand exceeds the space on board the trains.
In an effort to address this issue, Caltrain is developing a Bicycle Master Plan that focuses on ways to improve bike parking at its 10 most-popular stations. Over the last year, staff has conducted extensive surveys of existing bike parking facilities and solicited input from bicycle advisory groups and Caltrain bike riders.
Caltrain will hold three meetings to hear comments about its key findings and recommendations. The meetings will be held:
Thursday, June 12 at 6 p.m. San Carlos Public Library, 2nd floor, meeting room A 610 Elm St., San Carlos
Monday, June 16 at 6 p.m. Mountain View City Hall, Plaza Conference Room 500 Castro St., Mountain View
Tuesday, June 17 at 6 p.m. Genentech Hall, Room S201 University of California, San Francisco 600 16th St., San Francisco
Now is the time to submit your comments regarding this plan.Click here to review key findings of the Bicycle Master Plan. To comment, attend one of the public meetings, send an e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org or write to Caltrain bicycle Master Plan, P.O. Box 3006, San Carlos, Ca 94070. Comments will be accepted through July 3.
By Yokota Fritz
Thursday, June 12 will be a Spare the Air day in the San Francisco Bay Area. Concentrations of ground-level ozone pollution are forecast to be unhealthy tomorrow. Clear skies, hot temperatures, and light winds will combine to produce poor air quality for the Bay Area. Commuters are asked to help prevent smog tomorrow by using public transit, walking or biking to work; using a carpool or vanpool; and telecommuting.
Unlike past years, public transportation is not free. The San Francisco Metropolitan Transportation Commission decided that providing free transit is not a cost effective way to reduce air pollution, with a cost of about $400,000 per ton of reduced emissions.
The SF MTC will provide one final free transit day on Thursday, June 19. With record ridership on all Bay Area transit systems and high demand because of gasoline prices, I'm calling this "avoid Caltrain day."
By Yokota Fritz
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.
By Yokota Fritz
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
By Yokota FritzUpdate: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.
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.
By Yokota Fritz
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
By Yokota Fritz
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.
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?
By Yokota Fritz 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.
By Yokota Fritz
Google announced that Google Transit has graduated from Google Labs to become a fully integrated feature of Google Maps. When you request directions in Google Maps, if transit information is available within the requested area, you can click on "Take Public Transit" to get information about public transportation for your trip.
The public transit trip info includes stop location, travel time and fare, along with a driving cost comparison. Google Transit can handle connecting routes from multiple connecting transit agencies.
Although Google Transit has information on a number of U.S. and overseas transit agencies, more can certainly be added. In my area, for example, Santa Cruz Metro, Caltrain, SamTrans, SF Muni and AC Transit are all missing, among others. It's up to the transit agency to contact Google and provide the necessary information, so contact your local public transit agency and encourage them to participate in this system. For the transit agency, the primary benefit is more visibility to casual Google Maps users of available transit options.
Wi Fi on Highway 17 Express bus begins December 2007
By Yokota Fritz
The Santa Cruz Sentinel reports that Hwy 17 buses to go wireless. I ride the Highway 17 Express bus from Santa Cruz to San Jose on my commute. This will be nice. Santa Cruz Metro operates this service with funding from Santa Clara VTA, Amtrak, and probably the California Air Resources Board. The Wireless Internet grant is supposed to encourage more commuter use of the Highway 17 Express bus, although all of the commute-time buses are already full.
In other news, I saw the aftermath of this bad wreck on Sunday afternoon. Traffic was backed up from near the summit all the way past my home in Scotts Valley seven miles away for the entire afternoon, and in the late afternoon the backup stretched all the way around to Highway 1 almost to Soquel Drive in Santa Cruz.
By Yokota Fritz Wednesday, August 29th is a Spare the Air/Free Transit day in the San Francisco Bay Area. On BART, Caltrain, the ACE train and the ferries, transit will be free until 1 PM. Transit will be free all day on Bay Area buses and light rail.
That means the train bike cars and bus and light rail bike racks will be packed full, which probably means I'll ride my bike the entire distance to work tomorrow.
For a complete list of participating transit agencies and to plan your trip on transit, visit 511.org.
By Yokota Fritz
Michael Burns is the General Manager of the Santa Clara Valley Transportation Authority. His annual salary is $290,000.
When he was recruited from San Francisco Muni in 2005, Burns elected not to move from San Francisco to the South Bay. Consequently, he has a daily commute of at least 50 miles.
Burns -- remember, he manages a transit agency -- uses his $9,000 annual car allowance to drive to work every day. Except on those days when he's fed up with the traffic -- on those days, he uses taxpayer money to pay for a room at the Holiday Inn near his office on North 1st Street in San Jose. He decides "it's too much" to drive home after experiencing "two or three horrendous commutes."
Here's a radical suggestion for Micheal Burns to avoid that nasty congestion on 101 or 280: take the train! He could even drive part of the way to someplace like Millbrae, which has a huge parking lot. From San Jose Diridon, he can hop on the light rail to his office, though it might be a little faster to use the DASH shuttle to 1st and then hopped on the LRT line. From the River Oaks Light Rail station, which is served by two LRT lines, it's a short walk to his office. He just has to walk across the big Park-and-Ride lot and he's there.
The last Caltrain train leaves San Jose at 10:30, so there's probably plenty of time to catch a train after those late night meetings.
By Yokota Fritz
The San Francisco Metropolitan Transportation Commission, BART, Caltrain, and the California High Speed Rail Authority are unveiling a new blueprint for expanding the system of passenger and freight rail in the San Francisco Bay Area. A series of public meetings in the area will show the proposals to move people and freight through the region in the next 50 years and describe how the regional rail network works in conjuction with the proposed California high-speed rail, along with proposed alternatives for how high speed rail will come into the Bay Area.
The San Francisco Bay Area Regional Rail website includes interactive maps that describe the regional rail network. See the website for a schedule of open houses and presentations that begin today in Oakland, San Jose, Suisun City, Livermore and San Carlos.
By Yokota FritzTraffic demand management is a big deal at major events in San Francisco, where parking is at a premium. When locals go watch the San Francisco Giants play at AT&T Park, many of them take Caltrain and SF Muni right to the stadium. Bike Valet Parking provided by the San Francisco Bicycle Coalition is also heavily used. See the Streetsblog video of how it works.
Forbes Magazine reports on the how unhealthy our long commutes are. "It's a lifestyle choice," says David Rizzo, author of Survive the Drive! How to Beat Freeway Traffic in Southern California. "We put our health second. To have a big house, we're willing to put up with smog and a big drive. We sacrifice our longevity for short-term gains."
Warm Planet Bicycles has opened a new bike parking service at the 4th & King Caltrain station in San Francisco. The 1600 square foot facility is provided free to use and has room for up to 100 bicycles. See photos of the new facility in Jym Dyer's Flickr pool.
Longtime bicycling advocacy Alex Zuckermann died in his Berkeley home on Sunday. He was 86 years old. He founded the East Bay Bicycle Coalition 35 years ago to make the Bay Area more bicycle friendly and continued his advocacy until his death. For insights into his life and spirit, see these old letters from the San Francisco Chronicle:
Caltrain has begun a series of bicycle workshops as a part of the Bicycle Master Plan process. Each bicycle workshop is a one-hour tour at a Caltrain station with staff to discuss bicycle parking, bicycle access to and within the station area, and way-finding. To register, contact Celia Chung at (650) 508-6388 or chungc (at) samtrans.com. The schedule for remaining workshops are.
Station Date / Time Register By San Jose Diridon Tues 8/14 6 PM 8/9 Thu Redwood City Wed 8/22 6 PM 8/17 Fri Palo Alto Wed 8/29 6 PM 8/24 Fri San Francisco Thur 9/6 6 PM 8/31 Fri Hillsdale Tues 9/18 5:30 PM 9/13 Thu Mountain View Thur 9/20 5:30 PM 9/17 Mon San Mateo Tues 9/25 5:30 PM 9/20 Thu Sunnyvale Thur 9/27 5:30 PM 9/24 Mon
By Yokota Fritz
Caltrain -- the commuter rail service between San Francisco and San Jose, California -- is working on a new Bicycle Master Plan. Caltrain has posted a survey and asks commuting cyclists who take the train, as well as past bike+train users and potential bike+train commuters, to take the survey. Caltrain is evaluating their options and wants to gauge the response to potential changes. Among some of the possibilities mentioned in the survey:
Charging extra for bike car access.
Additional bike parking at busy stations.
Moving the bike car to the southernmost train.
Over the past two years, Caltrain usage has exploded to the point where commute-time trains are at capacity. Caltrain seems to want to encourage bike commuters to park their bikes at the train stations in order to relieve some of the crowding that's now occuring on the bike cars.
Santa Cruz: Wireless internet possible on the Highway 17 Express
By Yokota Fritz
Santa Cruz Metro, which operates the Highway 17 Express commuter bus service between Santa Cruz, Scotts Valley, and San Jose, is considering offering wireless Internet access to passengers. A survey on the bus will ask riders what they would like in WiFi service for the commute across the Santa Cruz Mountains into Silicon Valley.
While we're talking scams and transportation, here's another common one: You can cut the magnetic strip on a BART ticket, cut it into smaller strips and create multiple new BART tickets. For those not familiar with BART in the San Francisco Bay Area, entry into and exit from the BART platform is my sliding tickets with magnetic stripes through an automatic ticket reader that opens a gate.
Other transit providers in the Bay Area use visual inspection, though I'm sure there are folks creating ticket forgeries.
Since I'm writing about Bay Area transit...
While Caltrain and BART raises fares to cover increased operating costs, VTA considers reducing fares to boost ridership. Caltrain and BART are often filled to capacity and are able to charge more, while VTA buses and light rail often run empty.
The Bay Area Air Quality Management District hasn't decided yet how they will manage free transit on "Spare the Air" days. Over the past few years, free transit has been offered on several days when unhealthy levels of ozone is forecast. The Air Quality District is considering reducing the benefit to a half day of free transit on the more expensive trains and ferries while continuing to offer a full day of free rides on Bay Area buses.
By Yokota FritzCaltrain fares to go up 25 cents per zone. Starting Monday, April 2, Caltrain’s will implement a new fare increase. The new fares will increase by 25 cents per zone. There is no change to fares within a single zone. In June 2006, the Caltrain board voted to implement this increase to help cover escalating operation costs. Passenger fares cover approximately 40 percent of the cost to run the service.
Monthly passes for April will be sold at the new fare rate, even if purchased before the 2nd of the month. My two zone monthly pass goes up from $99.50 to $106.00. See the full fare structure here.
In the Bay Area, San Francisco Municipal Railroad stops are missing unless they happen to be at the same location as BART stations. Most VTA light rail stations are listed, though the Winchester line running south from San Jose Diridon to Winchester is missing.
Elsewhere in the US, Chicago CTA stops and Metra stations are listed. New York City, Atlanta, Philadelphia, Washington DC, Boston, Los Angeles.
U.S. cities with light and commuter rail that have not been included are Dallas/Fort Worth, Denver, Las Vegas, Pittsburg, King County WA, and St. Louis.
$1 million for bike park and ride
I just want to say that I don't think the TriMet and Caltrain projects are comparable. I'm guessing that Caltrain is probably going to take out a set of seats (or doing something else simple if the total cost is $200K) vs TriMet is actually going to be building brand new things (or at least purchasing them in the case of the lockers). Also, the Caltrain project will not accommodate 1000 bikes at one time (and bike capacity might be fine during off-peak periods), but the TriMet project will accomodate the 350 at one time.
Also, providing on-vehicle facilities can be better, especially for those wishing to bike at both ends, but many transit systems can not easily scale up. Specifically, due to platform length limitations, TriMet is limited to two cars per MAX or WES train.
"Caltrain has provided four times the capacity of TriMet's bike parking at one fourth the cost and in less time."
Caltrain hasn't provided anything... yet. Remain vigilant.
Jason, you make good points, especially about modifying existing infrastructure vs building brand new, but that's kind of my point: you can do a lot by just rearranging things.
Yes, seats are being removed, but those are just dead space anyway. There's apparently some sort of fiction going around that fewer seats = less passenger room, when the opposite is actually true.
"350 at one time" is right -- and that's all you'll get. Right now Caltrain transports 2,400 bikes each day every week day.
Caltrain also has the facility problems -- they looked at going to six cars consists, but many platforms can only handle 5 cars, so right now they're pushing for electrification so that the trains can run more frequently.
BART is already at capacity at a couple of stations along their line, and there's no room for platform expansion or more frequent trains. BART is ripping out seats to expand passenger capacity, but for bike capacity they're expanding bike parking like TriMet. BART's a little different in that they have monstrous park-and-rides in the suburbs and reasonable transit connections in San Francisco, so bikes on board isn't a critical issue.
I've only played on TriMet (the LRT and a couple of buses, no bike and only on a weekend and late night) so I don't know what the real world issues are for Portland's system. Is TriMet LRT mostly 'local' traffic in Portland, or is there a lot of longer distance traffic to/from Hillsboro, Beaverton and Gresham? I see the TriMet trains run more frequently than Caltrain.
Murph: Well yeah, it's still mostly vaporware.fewer seats = less passenger room, when the opposite is actually true
Well, if the area is used for people to stand, it may mean more room*. But if the area is getting used by bikes, it does seem to reduce room for passengers.
Overall, I'm assuming that the extra Caltrain bike capacity is only needed during peak periods, and would only get used a few trips a day, not the full 1000 times it could be.
As for MAX (TriMet's light rail system), it is a much more local system than Caltrain is in Portland (though in Beaverton/Hillsboro and part of eastern Portland is fast with fewer stops). The real problem is that it runs on-street in Downtown Portland, which means that trains can only be two cars long and limits throughput/speed.
*TriMet actually has taken out some of the seats on some old buses, but has said that WMATA (in DC) or some other agency supposedly did a study showing that it doesn't increase passenger capacity on trains.
Caltrain: Expect more consistency in bike car configurations
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?
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.
Caltrain meeting NOT Wednesday (it's on Thursday)
Note that on the unmodified cars the seats block the windows. And with these crappy racks, the bikes are harder to secure and would thus be harder to get over anyway.
Shirley is investigating if the number of emergency exits required is a function of number of seats - with only 8 seats in that level 4 windows seems like overkill...
It's not a function of the number of seats. 4 emergency windows are required on each passenger level, in addition to two doors, with a "reasonable exit rate" of 35 persons per minute. I imagine bikes would get in the way of this "reasonable exit rate," but the high back chairs would not (I looked). The only exception is for private berths -- only 1 window and 1 door required for those.
There's also a requirement that "emergency window exits shall be distributed throughout the passenger car body to reduce interior travel distance." I don't know if the bike car portion of the Gallery cars and the passenger-only side would be considered different levels or compartments, but I imagine that's the case.
The board of directors meets the first Thursday of the month at 10 a.m. in the Edward J. Bacciocco Auditorium located on the second floor at the San Mateo County Transit District Administrative Offices, 1250 San Carlos Ave., San Carlos.
translation - the meeting is umm... Thursday...
California budget agreement eliminates transit funds
What!!! Okay I am a little confused didn't we just pass SB 375 that mandates better transportation and land use planning. It pushes smarter growth patterns that depend on transit and walkability to cut down on green house gases.
So now we won't fund the transportation. This is just like California, proposed great things but just don't fund any of it.
Anon: It's maddening, isn't it?
Caltrain approves modest bike space increase
Caltrain bicycles on board: ideas and proposals
"In the mornings, relatively few passengers boarding at 4th and King in San Francisco have bikes, leaving hundreds of empty passenger seats, while cyclists are routinely bumped even in the winter."
I think there is a syntax error there. Do you mean relatively few passengers *don't* have bikes? That's not really true. While San Joser and Sunnyvale have copious parking, 4th/King is a major MUNI connection spot with "some" parking, and 22nd St has "a lot" of parking. The reason we see less SRO crowds is because the SB AM commute has a far more "tech-heavy" crowd that can show up at 10 AM for work, so the entire SB AM commute spreads across more trains.
Additionally, since the NB AM commute is so "Drive to the station" centric, I am guessing that earlier trains become more attractive because the parking lots are filling up, people shoot for the same earlier bullets because later trains cause parking hassles.
this of course is just a WAG.
SFBC contends there are 'hundreds' of empty seats on the trains (as evidenced by photos that you forwarded to me and are now posted to SFBC/BoB page). You'd never see passenger cars that empty in San Jose in the mornings. I think you're right this is because more people bike to SF station than to SJ station because of copious parking in the South Bay.
Those photos are taken on trains leaving SF at 8:44, 8:59, and 9:07 respectively. What do the trains leaving San Jose at those times look like?
The 8:14 and 7:14 AM trains - the two bullets stopping at PA, are much more loaded down with passengers. But like I said, we don't really "fill" the trains.
The parking in the South Bay is only part of it. All those NB AM commuters arrive in SF where there is a Jitney, cabs, MUNI, etc... whereas the SB commuters get dumped off in "the sticks" and need a bike if your company doesn't have a shuttle. My company has a shuttle - and it runs from Lawrence so I can't take a bullet.
Hmm, I don't know what trains that late look like -- my absolute latest departure from SJ is the 8:22 AM train (I like to get home in the evenings in time to see my kids).
I think I'd actually prefer them to do nothing over the stand-or-steal option, honestly. Given that I've been biking for around 2 years and I've already had to replace my bike once because of theft....
Not that I prefer the Stand or Steal deal, but if it comes to 16 bikes per bomber or 32 stand, I will take a stand. I want to know I get on and not have to stress over whether or not I am going to get bumped. And one advantage, non bikers will not be wantiong to get on board bikes trains knowing there are no seats. Thus making it faster to board/unboard.
Economic stimulus and transit funding
Sent my comments to Mike Honda. The Bay Area does need a transit upgrade really bad. More bike access and better infrastructure.
I posted to FB (as, I see, did Murph) and I got you some views.
Can you point me at the HTML/blogger code for adding buttons like this?
I will write Anna Eshoo *today*!
Thanks all! There's a very important update, including specifics on how to contact House Rules Committee chairwoman Slaughter, at http://www.t4america.org/transitcuts
Nick, I'll send you details in a little bit. I'm on the bus right now with limited connectivity.
What Measure B means for South Bay transit?
I have to disagree with you on this one. I for one am thrilled that this measure is actually passing (well - passing is a misnomer here really; it is clear the public wants it, bad. We are only talking about crossing the 2/3rds threshold).
Being an active rider of VTA bus/light-rail, Caltrain and BART services, I think a few of our assessments are incorrect. At the very least, you are being overly pessimistic.
I think the VTA has done a great job in turning around the bus services over the past year. (I am thinking of the changes that came thru on Jan 14). The addition of new express buses and altering of routes to serve busy routes better has really worked, IMO. They did this without increasing their budget.
Try getting to San Francisco from San Jose via the following route - VTA 180/181 Express to Fremont, and BART to SF, on a sunday. You s hould see how packed 180/181 is on even a Sunday; and ditto for the BART ride. Compare that to taking Caltrain, which runs practically empty on Sundays. The reason: BART works. Due to BART's higher frequency and late schedule, you don't have to *think* or plan too much about when to leave and when to return.
Connecting to East Bay means connecting to two more cities that are a lot more public transit oriented than South Bay/Peninsula - Oakland and Berkeley. This means that the San Jose leg will also get increased ridership due to accessibility for a population that's already used to public transit. In other words, San Jose will see a lot more people from the east bay come through; all the better for the economy.
Students form a huge share of public transit ridership; connecting SJ State to UC Berkeley - two of the largest universities in the Bay Area - can only be a good thing.
Bringing BART to San Jose/Santa Clara means direct connectivity between BART and Caltrain. This is good for Caltrain, not bad - among other things, it will mean increased ridership on Caltrain.
The ridership on the Alum Rock -> downtown San Jose/Santa Clara stretch alone will be HUGE - you have to ride VTA 22 one of these days to get a sense of this. (just like one of the most heavily used sections of BART is 24th St-Mission to Embarcadero).
Also, it is no coincidence that housing development in neighborhoods near BART are overwhelmingly high-density, multi-use, mixed income. Lord knows we need that in the South Bay.
And I am not even going into the countless other reasons why it is imperative to have better public transit and get cars off the road, period.
my more than 2 cents, - Ram (a Measure B promoter who doesn't drive his car to work)
There's a more basic problem. Even with federal funding, VTA doesn't have nearly enough money to build the full project.
Thanks for the links. I visited the "facts-about-measure-B" page and I have to say I found less facts and more propaganda.
I agree with the point that bus services are vital and should not be on the chopping block as a result of this. But that is the extent of what I agree with there..
How can a post that starts by blaming VTA for operating the "worst-performing" light-rail system present an objective opinion? I mean, come on. Why blame the VTA for problems that are fundamentally a result of city planning (sprawl, etc)? IMO the VTA has to be commended for doing a fine job despite the South Bay/Valley being one of the WORST developed places from a public transit perspective.
Also, that page contained a link that argued that the route was "outdated" because it doesnt' serve the tech corridor! Frankly, that's a bogus reason. (A) The tech corridor is extremely well served by VTA Light Rail; and VTA LRT will connect to BART at various locations incl downtown SJ. (B) - from a ridership perspective, the current route that serves east San Jose is not at all outdated. East San Jose is the neighborhood that sees the highest amount of public transit usage, already.
The VTA's system really is the worst performing system in the US, in terms of ridership, cost-per-passenger mile, however you want to measure it.
Light rail has been successful pretty much everywhere else it's been built. I'm pretty sure Denver, Salt Lake, and LA are as sprawly as San Jose. So that's no excuse. The reason it's been a flop in SJ is pretty obvious if you try to ride it: the routes are stupid--they zigzag, don't go directly where people want to go, and they're slow.
So is this an organization that we should trust to build an even bigger, more expensive transit system? It's not a question of whether the BART extension would be useful. It's a question of whether it's the best, or even a good, way to connect the south bay to the east bay. Google up "caltrain metro east", a suggested alternative, and judge for yourself.
I also have my doubts about whether the VTA is financially competent--and I'm really concerned that if they commit to funding BART, this will steal money from their LR, bus operations, and commitment to CalTrain.
Caltrain hits truck in Burlingame
I was on the 312 train. There was a small thump and then all the lights went out and the train rolled to a stop. #&*(*@ We were told the train had "hit a truck". Then we were told the delay would be indefinite and we could get out and look for alternate transportation.
I had boarded in Millbrae so I walked up to ECR, waited for a bus, and bussed back to Millbrae where I just missed a southbound train going through (the 7:32??). Then, unsure about trying to catch another train and not knowing what the delays would be, I drove home and worked from home for three hours.
I finally completed my trip to work (in SUnnyvale) at noon. Ugh.
What I fail to understand is how we have this sort of accident so often. How is it that some people are so blindingly stupid?
Thanks for leaving your comment Vicki, and sorry about the headaches.
The train hits and truck and it's a "small thump": I think that's pretty amazing.
295 Bus has his idea to prevent this sort of thing. I don't know if it would fly or not.
Caltrain bikes on board: Compare and contrast
"Nearing capacity"? For serious?
Has Caltrain ever discussed the cost of building in more bike carrying capacity? Have they ever talked about how much it would cost to either purchase a new bike car or retrofit a passenger car for bike carrying? Or how many total riders the typical bike car carries vs. the typical passenger car?
I'd be interested in seeing that sort of financial analysis because it would tell activists if they need to convince Caltrain to overlook short-term expenditure for long-term goals or if they just need Caltrain to accept an immediately win-win proposition.
Chester, much of the anger by cyclists toward Caltrain is that they have done nothing to study what can be to increase bike capacity. The technical advisory group that wrote the draft for the Caltrain bike access and parking plan gave several of their own suggestions on improving bikes on board capacity, but Caltrain staff specifically removed those ideas before presenting the document to the Caltrain Board.
The Caltrain Board decided in their meeting today to investigate improving the bikes on board program, so that's a win.
Jennifer - yes, many of our transit systems in the Bay Area are now at capacity, and the new state budget that was finally approved this lsat week does nothing to improve the situation.
Those cars don't look very full of people, though. Or do they fill up later?
That was kind of hte point of that montage, to show how much more bicyclists use Caltrain versus non-cyclists. He's showing traffic from San Francisco, however. From the South Bay (where I ride from) there's a crush of non-cycling passengers, probably because we have parking lots.
they are all great views. I specially enjoyed the analysis by Holier than you. I dont use caltrain as a source of commuting but it looks like it could become a nightmare if actions and effectiveness are not done soon. crazy. - funny I had just posted a link, also about caltrain, in today's article by the SFchron a bit more focused on fashion tho... ;)
Thanks, Yokota. I had always wondered about it -- the least that could be done is to do a cost analysis. My vague personal suspicion is that there will be significant short-term costs but those will pay off in the long run by greatly expanding the potential passenger pool.
My name is Solly, I am a 6th grade student in Los Angeles.
I am on a team competing in FIRST LEGO League, which promotes science and technology for kids. This year’s theme is Climate Connections, and our team chose to study the connections between rising temperatures and car emissions in Los Angeles. Did you know that these two things both affect each other?
Our team needed to think of a creative solution for our topic. We found that a lot of car emissions come from people who drive a long distance to work every day, such as from Palmdale or Riverside to the downtown area. These areas have commuter trains called MetroLink, and our idea is to add a rail car for bikes only. This would encourage more people to leave the car at home, and get to work with bike and train.
We were surprised to learn that MetroLink has room for only 2 bikes per train car. The other LA train system is a subway called Metro that travels shorter distances. Metro is adding bike lockers at some stations, but this means you have to buy two bikes if you really want to stop driving the car to work.
In LA and other cities, train companies do not want to remove more seats to make room for bikes, because it would reduce their income. Passenger train cars are expensive and take a long time to get. So our idea is to take older rail cars that were used for something else, and make some changes to allow bike racks and ramps to get on and off. After parking your bike in this rail car you just go sit down in a regular passenger car. Adding these simple rail cars to the commuter train would not reduce income, and might even sell more tickets from all the people that could now take their bike to work.
We made several designs of rail cars that could hold between 34 and 80 bikes. We estimate that each bikes-only rail car could reduce 408 to 960 tons of carbon dioxide emissions per year, if these commuters stopped driving 60 miles each way. This is based on 0.8 pounds of CO2 per mile driven.
We also researched to see if other parts of the world have tried this idea. Some cities in the US are adding more room for bikes by taking out seats, but this is going slow. Some cities in Europe have taken out most or all of the seats, with people standing next to the bikes, but this was on subways and different than our topic of long distance commuters.
If you have read all this, thank you very much, because another one of our assignments was to share our project with people who might be interested. Internet blogs are a good way for our team to try and share our work with a lot of people. Hopefully you like our idea, and please wish us luck in our competition.
Thanks Solly; your contest sounds very intriguing and I like your ideas. Do you know if your designs will be available anywhere on the Internet for others to view?
Caltrain Bicycle Access and Parking Plan now online
for what it's worth, the SF bike coalition sent out a bike theft alert last week for that particular garage:
"Elsewhere in bike theft news, steer clear of the 5th and Mission Garage -- bike parking at this city garage has always been pretty sketchy, but lately thieves have been working double-time to swipe bikes parked here, sadly we've heard that entire racks full of bikes have been stolen. We're working on better, more secure parking at this key location, but until that happens you'd be well advised not to park your bike there."
Thx Calitexican. I missed that particular bulletin.
Why not register your bikes on the nes national database www.immobilize.net The police can check any property on the site. Once you have opened your account you can register any property on the site- FREE Also why not tag the bike. The RFID tag has an unique ID number which can be read with a scanner. visit www.immobitag.com and the ciost is around $25. Details of the btag, the bike and the owner go on the immobilize website. The bike is 10 times less likely to be stolen. There are 35 different sites in the UK where the police are tagging bikes to reduce the theft rate. Regards
Bay Area bicycle and transportation news
Caltrain bike car updates to your mobile device
Yesterday, my wife said that Caltrain's digital signs at San Mateo indicated that SB134 had no bike car.
I thought they couldn't run a train without a cab (aka bike) car.
Yesterday I rode from SF to Millbrae with the intention of riding Caltrain from there. My phone was tweeting away and it was pretty cool knowing that 324 was old style - I lifted it up a notch and made the train by about 90 seconds. If I had known it was a bombadier I would have slowed down and taken 226 which I was alerted had 2 old bike cars. Magic!
Sadly I am missing the JPB meeting this AM - we were riding from SF and easily on schedule to make it to Google, get a free breakfast from my Google friends, and make a Caltrain to San Carlos. Then the BONK hit someone on the ride who didn't know the route. Clearly it was up to me to take it for the team, slow down and ride him to the finish.
Ah, Murph, I was hoping you'd make the meeting so I could read your report. I haven't seen anything on the SFBC list yet about the JPB meeting.
Gazer: I didn't realize they posted the signs. I actually hung around the Mtn View station for a while looking for this trainset to take a photo. Apparently there are some Bombardier cab cars without bike racks?
Oh, I almost forgot to mention: Here's a PDF to print and hand out to bike car patrons to let them know about Ravi's Twitter service.
I've heard, BTW, that he's been slow lately in handing out keys. A HOW TO on how to send updates will be forthcoming, though.
Ravi set me up to submit updates via SMS, which has worked well the couple of times there was anything of interest (Caltrain-wise) in SM.
Seems like a few more people are submitting from SF, which is really cool for me! I blew some minds yesterday knowing that 226 had the 2nd bike car.
I haven't been *that* slow on sending out the emails with keys. :)
I'm also working to write some simple web forms that will speed up the entry of bikecar specific updates. That way even if you don't know the train number off the top of your head it can be generated by the form.
I may also create a spelled out how-to guide on my blog too so things are unified. Not that I'm not appreciative for you creating the pdf et al.
Depressing. I twittered out that 277 had 2 cars from SV. Delayed in MP and RWC as cyclists run down the platform.
This is awesome proof of concept but we need to get Caltrain to get the info on the electronic signs. Sigh.
Murph, I was getting disappointed also twittering the updates but not seeing it put to good use. Hence my efforts now to get the word out.
I hope you don't mind me doing this, Ravi -- I know some people just didn't "get" how Twitter works, hence the step-by-step guide. I hope this makes it a little bit more clear.
Far be me to complain when the community wants to improve something. That is what I did by creating the service. Then again I was improving on nothing... but I digress. I love feedback and will incorporate whatever I can to my site to make things easier for the community to participate and understand it.
That said I have created a Getting Started guide which adapts the instructions from your blog post.
 http://cow.org/c/getting-started or http://cow.org/r/?3ce5 if that is too long :)
Ravi, your guide is much more succint and clear than mine. Thanks for doing that!
Northbound and Southbound Caltrain delayed today
I was riding South from SF towards Mountain View this AM, usually around San Mateo I start looking at my watch and decide if I want to consider hopping a train. The tweets are very helpful in this regard, though this morning they were a bit misleading - the NB trains were delayed but I couldn't confirm if that was delaying SB trains.
I decided to try to get 322 in Redwood City. As I was rolling towards the station the train pulled in. The gate was down on Broadway and the train was emptying. Here's why you NEVER trying to run the gates - I was watching my train on the platform wondering if the gates would go up in time for me to get to the train and a NB train came screaming by - I didn't know it was coming until it was already past. Where I was standing - on the left side of the road - there really isn't a gate, there is a gate on the right side of the road and on the sidewalk. I could see someone in that circumstance spacing it out. But I digress...
After the gates came up I rode over to the train, the door closed in front of me but the conductor was standing in the other door. He opened the door for me. Good fortune as 324 - the next SB train, broke down. Sometimes you're the windshield, sometimes you're the bug. Today I was the windshield.
South bound horrendous today - 226 never showed in SM, and I biked all the way in, barely making my 10am appt. (And in my sweaty bike clothes at that!)
I'm still trying to figure out how to send updates to twitter/caltrain and twitter/bikecar from my cell phone. (SMS only for me!!)
I might have had better info for murph if I could have actually send my update around 8:55am as I tried!
Ravi Pina is trying to figure out how to do updates by SMS. Of course, the real answer is to get CALTRAIN to send this stuff out.
The way I look at it, get as many people to use/contribute to the twitter feed and start to embarrass Caltrain. When the "324 is broken down" tweet came out I mentioned to the conductor "Thanks for letting me on - the 324 has broken down at San Bruno and I would have been stuck". I showed him the SMS stream on my Iphone, he looked at me like I was Zoltar the Magnificent.
Yup, ravi is excellent.
I thought I was set up to test out the SMS update, but it didn't work.
Will keep trying, though I'll only be good on days like today, when things get really snarled.
San Mateo is a bit too sedate otherwise...
Too bad I couldn't wait around to see the 324/226 monster train! I've seen them do 10 car trains for MLK day, and that's a sight to behold.
Position paper on Caltrain Bicycle Master Plan
=v= Some of this has been incorporated into the SFBC's position statement on this master plan, along with some great historical background. It's available as a PDF file, currently at the bottom of the SFBC's Bikes On Board page.
Thursday: Bike or transit?
if you can ride the whole thing yourself you should, rather than taking up room and burning more fuel or taking room away from someone else.
and being self sufficient is more fun!
you don't have to change your life just to have something to blog about! :-P That sounded harsh, sorry didn't mean it that way.
Thanks for the heads-up! I probably would have stamped by 10-ride and then gotten bumped.
I'll probably train it, as getting on mid-peninsula provides a little insulation from the insanity to-be in SF and SJ.
Taking the train will give you more interesting fodder for this blog. But do whatever makes you happy!
I'm already planning on riding both directions, SF to Sunnyvale, being able to easily bail out to CT at PA on the way down or BART at Millbrae on the way home.
free transit = complete zoo on caltrain. i'll be riding both ways. i will try to meet up @ diridon if you do the same.
No question: folder and Caltrain documentation. It's your obligation as a blogger! ;) I agree with 295bus.
Take the folder-ride the rails. Some of my favorite stories on life in Chicago were experienced when riding the rails. Jack
Jack - some of us, Fritz, myself, 295bus, are experiencing a little too much life on the rails these days...
Caltrain: More bike parking
Back in the day when I rode Caltrain, getting bumped was my #1 reason for decreased riding -- even with my free Go pass.
I've always considered bike parking to be failed idea -- it only works if your endpoint has good public transit. Witness Japan, which has hundreds of bikes parked in the plazas outside the station (safety in numbers, as those bikes are locked with wimpy integrated wheel locks).
The folding bike subsidy sounds more attractive -- I seriously considered this option but ended up enjoying the ride more.
Caltrain has a folding bike subsidy now? Where can information be found about that? Several of my folding bike customers use Caltrain and I'm sure that they'd want to know about this.
I think a bike share plus increased bike parking would reduce the need for overnight parking and reduce bikes on the trains. People could ride their own bikes from/to their homes and then use the shared bikes to/from work.
Same old same old - run down train services with not enough rolling stock blames cyclists for all it's woes.
I love the we're late because "cyclists take more time to load". Not "we don't have enough carriages on the train for pax to embark in a reasonable time"
The answer is more trains, more often.
And more often on time.
See Melbourne .Au last year
Intense coverage of the Caltrain issue. It nice to see more people are commuting, I hope the set backs and headaches are temporary... that official *think* about acctual causes and solutions
In the past two years I had been bumped once before late May of this year, and the number of instances of passengers being bumped that I observed in that time period could be counted on one hand. Since mid-May I have been bumped 3 times, almost bumped a couple more, seen dozens of instances where cyclists were denied boarding on trains on which I was travelling. Not a good sign.
And all of this was predictable. Problems started occurring when they introduced the Baby Bullets, have been bad on all trains in the summers ever since, and always seem to get worse when gas prices go up. Summer, record gas prices, and what happens? CalTrain is caught with its pants down, exacerbated by not catching 14 cars with cracks that need to be taken out of service.
Parking is a very, very, very tiny piece of the solution. It must be SECURE with a capital S, weatherproof, and then will only work for a minority of cyclists. Not good for anyone whose work and/or home is more than a mile or so from the station. And CalTrain has an awful history with bike lockers, witness the fiasco at the Sunnyvale station post-parking garage renovation.
Folders are a tiny piece of the solution; trains might be able to take a few folders. And folders will not work for many, and are an additional item to buy/maintain. And for those with a conscience, a folder is a $600-1500 cost item; lower priced ones made by factories of questionable repute in China are available, but then one has to lower one's ethical compass somewhat to make the purchase.
It appears we will have glacial progress towards incrementally poor solutions, leading more folks to abandon their attempts at getting out of cars and onto alternative transport. Darn shame.
Speaking of lockers... I have been riding Caltrain for 10 years. I know nobody who has a bike locker and have only seen someone open a bike locker once. That makes me leery of bike lockers being a solution - there is no "means test" to quantify that building a locker and renting it to someone will accomplish the stated goal, if the reality is they are rarely used if ever, monopolized by non or infrequent Caltrain users (cyclists or not).
The price point makes the issue. I had occasion to work in Boxborough Mass about 3 times a year. I fly in to Boston, and can take the T/Commuter Rail to South Acton, 3 miles from the office. I found out there were unspoken for bike lockers at South Acton. I seriously considered buying a clunker and renting a locker, for $200 I could get a usable bike and pay for annual rental, and was going to try to convince my company to pay for it given this was less than 3 days rental car. At the price point it was worth using the locker as storage, to be opened twice a year.
Caltrain has a waiting list - yet those owning lockers don't seem to be utilizing them, at least not for the intended means. I could be wrong, but I'm definitely curious.
I live 2.5 miles from the station, and my work is 5.5 miles from the station. I need to bring my bike with me on the train!
Caltrain Bicycle Master Plan public meeting
You're confusing Caltrain with SMART. Santa Rosa = SMART. San Carlos = Caltrain.
Can you tell I am in a bad mood. Off to get bumped now...
Argh, totally wrong side of the Bay. I really should get somebody to proofread my writing. Thanks for pointing that out -- corrected now.
Thursday June 12: Spare the Air
Tips for public transit
Crazy bus passenger
On the brighter side. the bike rack looks a bit dirty but intact after the ordeal.
One of many reasons I stay far away from buses. I can't stand biking near them and haven't ridden one in 10+ years.
I talked to a couple of bus drivers at SC Metro -- they told me the bike rack is a little mangled and will need repair or replacement. Other than that, the only damage to the bus was two flat tires.
I guess Baltimore passengers must be different from Santa Cruz passengers. This isn't exactly an everyday occurrence around here.
That was strange- expecting cycles clicking Santa Cruz- and a Santa Cruz bus appears!
Santa Cruz was named "bicycle friendly, so I am thrilled my home town recieved that honor; and assumed that coverage of that celebration (downtown Santa Cruz Civic Auditorium ) might be what I would find: but a bus on highway 1 ???
I had better go out cycling to calm down.......;-)
Anon, I had seen the news that Santa Cruz was selected as a Bicycle Friendly Community. I think many of us knew that already, but seeing the purple signs up is pretty exciting.
I'd be curious to know what you clicked on expecting to find an article about Santa Cruz cycling to see this one about a crazy bus passenger.
Amtrak strike would impact Caltrain, other commuter rail services
Strike averted! See http://www.nytimes.com/2008/01/18/nyregion/18amtrak.html?_r=1&ref=nyregion&oref=slogin
Thanks for that news, Dan.
VTA: Big route and schedule changes on Monday
No time to cycle, I'm too busy being king of the world!
I'm so honored the CEO of Microsoft visited! Check out his zany blog, all.
Caltrain: Cyclists turned away as ridership surges
One in fifteen???!!! During rushhour?!
-jealous in Chicago
When I take my bike on Caltrain (1-2 days per week on average) I regularly see bike commuters get bumped, both in the mornings and evenings. Ridership surges, yet Caltrain STILL only has ONE BIKE CAR PER TRAIN -- what gives?!?!?
Slightly better link to the car crashes that held you up this morning.
(Almost wrote 'accident', but I don't believe in that word when associated with car crashes anymore...)
As for CALTRAIN - I don't usually see passenger train-cars more than 50% full - because each passenger typically takes up two or more seats. That's far from being anywhere near capacity. Time to rip out the other side of the cab car to make room for 32 more bikes!
I love making people grumble by asking them to move their bags so that I can sit near the luggage area and keep an eye on my folder...
(Don't know about bullets - they don't hit San Mateo)
I'm in the Chicago suburbs going north and south along the Fox River. My bus route services mostly those who can't afford cars or those that get off at the train station going to Chicago. My bus has a 2 bike rack and about half the time I'm the only bike. Maybe twice I have seen a cyclist waved off because the rack was full. I haven't really seen much ridership increase in the past few months, but as it gets colder I'll ride both ways on the bus, instead of commuting 15 miles home on the bike.
I've updated the post by adding a photo of the bike car interior. The bike cars are provisioned for the exclusive use of cyclists, and there is always at least one bike car per train.
Jim, Caltrain wants to electrify the line so they don't want to buy additional equipment right now until they know for sure if electrification will ever happen, or if they're stuck with diesel for the next 20 years. I have seen the passenger bullets packed full during commute times.
Thanks for the link, Gazer. I guess the CHP info times out after a short bit. And thanks for the comments, all!
Caltrain: 2 more trains on weeknights
I'm happy to hear about the additional evening train, because it sucks that there's an 80 minute gap between the 189 and 191 northbound trains.
I actually would like to see another bullet and/or express train, because they stop a bit early for me.
Google Transit integrated into Google Maps
Wi Fi on Highway 17 Express bus begins December 2007
Caltrain nixes WiFi
Bummer! Well, I'm not feeling so bad about signing that 2 year Sprint EVDO contract. Sprint EVDO mostly works OK for my Caltrain commute between SF and Mt View.
Bay Area Spare the Air August 29
Well, there were less than the average number of bicycles on my train this morning. I'm guessing a one-off free ticket doesn't do much to inspire people to take their bike on the train.
Probably a few more pedestrian passengers though.
The bike car seemed to have about an average number of bikes. Many more non-bike passengers who don't know that the bike car is reserved for cyclists, though.
I took the 8:19am express from SF to mt view yesterday, and the passenger load was lighter than normal.
I took the 9:29pm northbound from Mt View all the way back to King st, and that was also a bit light.
I didn't know that yesterday was spare the air day, so I was pleasantly surprised when I got to the station yesterday morning.
Transit General Manager drives to work
Imagine that...! I'm not surprised - but it does give a chuckle! He could also join the Ultramarathon Cycling association and get some really nice long commutes in. ;)
Mass transit and alternative commuting is for us poor unimportant folk.
Public transit is for everybody ;-) The CEO of Mattson Technology commutes by bike and train to commute from Tracy and Fremont. Mattson is a $500 million company that designs and manufactures silicon fabrication equipment. Other notable local bike commuters include Webcor CEO Andy Ball, Brocade Networks CEO Mike Klayko, Palm CEO Ed Colligan, IBM VP Mike Dean, Lockheed Martin VP Len Kwiatkowski and Specialized Bicycles CEO Mike Sinyard.
Santa Clara County Supervisor has also become a regular bike commuter this year and even blogged about his experience. He's become a rather vocal proponent of bicycle as transportation this year.
Chris, your blogger profile is "blocked" -- I can't view it. Can you point to a website that says who you are? Thanks!
I am pretty sure that Chris' comment was in jest. Still, I like that list of prominent bike commuters. Very interesting.
It is true that most people assume anyone who uses an alternative to the automobile does so strictly for financial reasons. It reminds me of when my son was in first grade. A neighbor kid told him that he must be poor because of the fact that his Dad rode a bike to work and his Mom walked him to school. My son pointed out to the kid that we lived in similar houses in the same neighborhood, so family must be poor too. I guess he could have been defensive and pointed out that we own 2 cars (we shouldn’t) but I like the explanation he chose much better.
Bay Area Regional Rail plans
Bay Area bicycle news
Caltrain bicycle survey
Santa Cruz: Wireless internet possible on the Highway 17 Express
Commuter checks for sale
Caltrain fare increase
Google maps now shows Bay Area transit
Building outlines was part of the same update to Google maps, and are available for most larger cities. I'm still hoping for bike paths...