Increasing Bike Capacity
BIKES ONboard Proposal for Increasing Bike Capacity to 80 Bikes per Train
January, 2009 — see updated proposal
Our goal is to meet current demand, including latent demand, for onboard bicycle space, while minimizing impact to passengers. Our analysis of current demand can be found in Section 4.3 of our Plan for Bicycle Carriage on Caltrain.
We recommend the following:
Two bike cars, 80 bikes per train
- Every train has two bike cars with each bike car having a minimum bike capacity of 40 bikes, providing a minimum bike capacity of 80 bikes per train.
- Both bike cars are adjacent, so bicyclists can self-monitor the number of bikes in each car and work among themselves to equalize the bikes in each car.
- All racks have a minimum capacity of four bikes with additional bicycles permitted as long as the additional bicycles do not extend past minimum aisle striping.
The bicycle cars would be configured as follows:
- Gallery Cars: Continue to have bicycle storage in only one side of the car. Remove two sets of facing seats in the existing bicycle storage area and install two bicycle racks. This would increase the current capacity from 32 to 40, leaving 32 seats in the bicycle side of the train car (8 seats on the lower level and 24 in the upper level). This is adequate for bicyclists to guard against theft.
- Bombardier Cars: Remove two sets of facing seats in the existing bicycle storage area and install two bicycle racks. In addition, remove two sets of facing seats on each mezzanine to install two bike racks. This would increase current bike capacity from 16 to 40, with 24 bike spaces and 11 seats in the lower section and 8 bike spaces and 10 seats on each of the two mezzanines. This is adequate seating for bicyclists to guard against theft.
A few simple refinements should be included, because this increase in bicycle capacity will increase bikes-on-board ridership and attract new riders who will be unfamiliar with the procedure for bringing their bikes onboard.
- On the Bombardier cars, eliminate the designated bicycle entrance and exit doors.
- Develop and install instructional signage on proper use of the racks, loading the racks, and using the destination tags.
- Replace bike racks on Bombardier cars with gallery-car racks. Elimination of the frames makes it easier to maneuver bikes, and it is easier to attach bungee cords to the round rings (instead of half-moons) on the top of the rack.
The advantages and justification for this 80 bike per train proposal are
- It is very doable with existing equipment. The changes are easily done to the existing rail cars without significant modifications; no new equipment is required.
- 80 bike spaces per train is expected to meet the current demand.
- Will attract additional ridership from more bikes-on-board passengers.
- Turns currently unused walk-on passenger capacity into bikes-on-board capacity while providing better utilization of the existing railcars with refined configuration to meet the actual demand.
- Increases revenue for Caltrain by increased bikes-on-board ridership with no reduction in walk-on passengers.
- No increase in operating costs.
- Uses existing proven components. No investment and risk in new equipment or systems.
- Complete the design work to add the additional capacity to the gallery and Bombardier cars. Use existing gallery-car rack design; just add more of them.
- Start by converting trailer cars to bike cars to quickly provide all trains with two bike cars. The second bike car should be located adjacent to the existing bike/cab car.
- Convert additional spare trailer cars to bike cars to be ready for use.
- Convert bike/cab car to non-bike car. Configure train sets with two adjacent bike/trailer cars at the southern end of the train. Placing both bike cars at the southern end of the train may help smooth boarding, because northbound walk-on passengers tend to crowd the northern-most cars.
- Give priority boarding at the bike cars to bikes-on-board passengers, and add signage to request walk-on-board passengers to sit in the non-bike half of the bike car. This should minimize boarding time, and allow bicyclists to sit in the bike car to guard their bikes against theft.
- At San Jose, conductors hold unloading of bikes-on-board passengers until the majority of foot traffic has passed by the bike cars to ensure smooth traffic flow on the platform.
- We want the problem resolved now, not piecemeal. Take out enough seats to make space for 80 bikes per train.
- Bike theft is a potential problem with Caltrain staff's suggestion to remove 16 seats in the bottom of a Bombardier bike car to hold 32 bikes. There would be only 3 seats left, and there is no guarantee that passengers in these seats would take on the big responsibility of watching bikes at every stop. We need to have as many seats as possible near the bikes, so cyclists can sit near their bikes if they so choose. There is no reason for bicyclists to have to stand the entire trip to guard their bikes when almost all trains have many empty seats, and only one or two trains may reach seating capacity for one stop, that is, less than 10 minutes.
- We support Caltrain staff's intention to keep the current rack design. The current design enables the tightest possible packing of bikes by overlapping the handlebars, though we prefer the gallery-car racks over the Bombardier cages.
- One bike takes the space of one seat. If Caltrain removes 5% of the seats, then all trains will have 80 bike spaces, so we'll all know exactly what to expect when a train pulls up. This will satisfy Caltrain's priority to improve consistency in the number of bike spaces on all trains.
- Caltrain staff said it is not possible to consistently schedule a particular train set on a particular run due to accidents and unforeseen maintenance issues, so any train set can run at any time. Therefore, the only viable solution is to increase bike capacity on ALL trains to 80 bikes per train to meet current demand.
Now here's what you can do. Please send an email to Caltrain. Here are some suggested talking points:
- Thank Caltrain for planning to increase onboard bike capacity.
- Tell Caltrain why you take your bike onboard.
- Recommend increasing bike capacity to 80 bikes per train by removing 5% of the seats for bikes.
- Remind Caltrain that expanding the bikes-on-board program increases revenue through increased ridership, and it reduces traffic congestion and pollution.
- Include your city of residence at the bottom of your email.
Use this handy email link to write to Caltrain customer service, copying the Board, Mark Simon (Caltrain staff), and us.
If your email client doesn't recognize the link, just copy and paste all four email addresses: To: email@example.com, and Cc: firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org