Caltrain and bikes

Attention Caltrain bike riders: Caltrain has been running five car consists for some time now, and all Bombardier (“new style” aka “Bomb”) sets have had two bike cars for a while until last night! One Bomb set last night had only four cars with a single bike car, so beware! I saw reports last night of numerous bumps out of Palo Alto on Northbound train 369 last night, so keep your options open.

If you ride Caltrain, you’re likely aware of the agency’s budget emergency. Caltrain is funded through a three county Joint Powers Board, and San Mateo County’s transportation district — SamTrans — has already indicated they plan to cut $10 million for their contribution to Caltrain for Fiscal 2012.

The projected $30 million deficit for Fiscal 2012 would occur if all three counties that constitute the Caltrain Joint Powers Board match San Mateo County’s forecast $10 million cut, but VTA says Caltrain is important to Santa Clara County and hints that they intend to keep fully funding their share of Caltrain operations. When San Mateo County cut funding for the current fiscal year, San Francisco and Santa Clara VTA both kept their Caltrain funding at the previous year’s level.

Caltrain, which is managed by SamTrans staff, proposes closing eleven stations in Santa Clara County and eight stations in San Mateo County to help balance next year’s budget. Both stations in San Francisco County would remain open. Bayshore, which is on the “proposed cut” list, serves SF but is technically in SM County, FWIW.


  1. “Five train consists” = “Five car consists.”

    Who calls them Bomb cars?
    They’re known to railfans and the industry as BiLevel (trademark name, I think).

  2. Close 19 stations? Wow!
    So if that happens, we might see a slight uptick in carpooling, bus ridership, and bicycling, but the majority of rider increase will be in single occupant vehicles. Better tell Caltrans to start building some new lanes on the highways!

  3. train/car corrected ; thanks.

    “Bombs” is local jargon for the Bombardier cars; I think that started as a texting / Twitter shortcut. Bilevel can also refer to the older Nippon Sharyo gallery cars, which Caltrain also uses (same as the Chicago Metra rolling stock)

    The Nippon Sharyo gallery cars we just call “old style,” mostly.

  4. Metra could really use some new cars. Ones where you don’t have to climb 5 steep steps to get to the first level. Oh, like the Bombardier BiLevel cars!

    It would make it easier for all passengers and especially those with disabilities, bicycles, luggage, or strollers.

    And some seatbelts for bikes 😉

  5. To be fair, they’re selecting the stations with the fewest passengers, and some of that can be adjusted for with shuttles and what not. The biggest impact, I think, will be non-commute travel. Literally thousands of people use Caltrain to watch the SF Giants (pro baseball) and San Jose Sharks (pro hockey), and there’s not enough parking or highway capacity to replace what’s lost on Caltrain. Caltrain busted ridership records left and right when the Giants were in World Series playoffs last year.

  6. BNSF Aurora to Union Station is probably the most “equivalent” line to compare Caltrain with. Roughly 55,000 vs 38,000 passengers on weekdays. One way fare is $6 vs $10.50. Parking is $2/day in Aurora vs $3 in San Jose.

    Given that everything else is more expensive out here it’s difficult to say if the cost of riding the train makes that much difference. For San Mateo and SF Counties there’s also BART, with vastly higher ridership. Some propose stopping Caltrain where it connects with BART in Millbrae.

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