Increasing Bike Capacity
BIKES ONboard Proposal for Improving Consistency in Bike Capacity on Caltrain
(updated December 2009)
Our goal is to meet current and latent demand for onboard bike capacity while minimizing impact to all other passengers. Our analysis of Caltrain ridership shows consistent 80 bike spaces per train are needed to eliminate bumping.
Bombardier Cars are newer cars with the single-step entrance and two doors.
Gallery Cars are the older cars with the three-step entrance and one door.
Caltrain runs five Bombardier train sets and fifteen gallery train sets.
- Bombardier train sets all have three bike cars for a total capacity of 72 bikes per train. Each bike car has a capacity of 24 bicycles. The three bike cars will be the cab car (northernmost car), and the fourth and fifth cars from the cab car.
- Gallery train sets all have two bike cars for a total capacity of 80 bikes per train. Each bike car has a capacity of 40 bikes. The two bike cars will be the cab car and the fourth car from the cab car.
A few simple refinements should be included
This increase in bicycle capacity will increase ridership, attracting new cyclists who will be unfamiliar with the procedure for bringing their bikes on board.
- Post instructional signage and brochures on bike boarding, racking, and exiting.
- Provide destination tags on the trains.
- Give priority boarding at the bike cars to bikes-on-board passengers, and add signage to request walk-on passengers to sit in other cars. This will minimize boarding time and allow bicyclists to sit in the bike car to guard against theft.
- At terminal stations, conductors hold unloading of bikes-on-board passengers until the majority of foot traffic has passed by the bike cars. This will ensure a smooth traffic flow on the platform.
Operational Advantages of Improved Service Consistency
- Reduce dwell time, because cyclists can board at more doors (two on gallery trains and six on Bombardier trains).
- Less demand on conductors' time, because there will be sufficient bike capacity on all trains to avoid bumping, hence less need to monitor the bike car load.
- Minimize platform conflicts, because cyclists will know where to stand on the platform when trains have a consistent number of bike cars.
Frequently Asked Questions
- Why doesn't Caltrain put bike cars adjacent to each other?
The cab car (northernmost car) must be the bike car due to its original structural design, according to Caltrain staff. The second position is reserved for disabled boarding. The third position is congested due to proximity to ticket vending machines on the platform. The fourth position is the first possible position for the second bike car.
- Why can't there be 40 bike spaces in each Bombardier bike car?
To achieve 40 bike spaces in a Bombardier bike car, bike racks would need to be installed on the mezzanines. Caltrain staff said this is not possible due to safety concerns. Three bike cars holding 24 bikes each is an acceptable compromise, resulting in 72 bikes per train.