The San Francisco Bicycle Coalition continues to work to improve access and increase capacity on Caltrain so you have an easier commute between San Francisco and the Peninsula.
Caltrain ridership has significantly grown in the past few years, as more and more people are commuting between San Francisco and the Peninsula. Being able to bring your bike onboard or park at a Caltrain station is necessary for many who need a bicycle to complete the first or last mile to get to their final destination. We continue to urge Caltrain to increase their secure bicycle parking and onboard capacity as more riders continue to be “bumped”. Did you just get bumped? Report it here.
Bike Parking at Caltrain Stations
While bicycle parking exists at all Caltrain stations, including a free, fully-attended bike parking station at the 4th and King Station, popular stations are often near or at capacity. We continue to advocate for free, uninterrupted and reliable valet service at Caltrain stations and secure bike parking as the demand continues to grow.
Bike Capacity on Caltrain
Thanks to the strong advocacy of BIKES ONboard, Caltrain increased bike capacity over 50% since 2009, and all trains now have two bike cars. Despite this improvement, reports show that passengers looking to bring their bicycles onboard continue to be “bumped” every day. There also is a lack of real-time information, particularly during peak commute hours.
With the strength of our many members who depend on Caltrain daily, we are urging Caltrain to:
- Increase the onboard bicycle capacity by adding an additional bike car
- Provide priority boarding for bicyclists at bike cars
- Conduct a courtesy campaign that bike cars are for bicyclists to encourage walk-ons to sit elsewhere
How You Can Get Involved
There are a few ways you can get involved in improving bike access.
“Bikes on board” (bicycle bring-along by Caltrain passengers) is a service success that built Caltrain’s ridership, enhanced its reputation, and has been studied and admired by transit systems all over the nation.
Work to develop the service predates the formation of Caltrain/Peninsula Corridor Joint Powers Board. Bicycle advocates worked with Southern Pacific Railroad for several years before winning a 4-month demonstration project in 1982 that permitted four bikes being held in the aisle of the cab car. Despite the popularity of the service, Southern Pacific refused to continue the project.
It wasn’t until Caltrain was established in 1992 that provision of the service was resumed; advocates were successful in identifying and allocating funding that allowed Caltrain to remove cab car seats and provide bike racks, resulting in 8 bike spaces per train. By 1996, 24 bikes were accommodated per train and by 2002, 32 bike spaces were provided on gallery cars, but new Bombardier cars held only 16 bikes. As a result of SFBC advocacy, Caltrain increased bike capacity in 2009 by 35%. Trains now accommodate 48, or 80 bikes, though waiting customers do not know which train will show up, resulting in irregular, unpredictable service.
Over the past 15 years, the bicycling community has continued to build on this proven track record of working collaboratively with Caltrain to implement and improve on-board bicycle service. This legacy of partnership and collaboration has served Caltrain’s and our communities’ fundamental interests in reducing traffic congestion on highways and local streets and protecting our environment (particularly climate-change concerns), as well as providing a regional transportation option that rivals the automobile in convenience and flexibility.
Unfortunately, Caltrain’s engagement in maintaining and enhancing this essential service has been badly distracted and grossly undercommitted. Cyclists have had to take service planning into their own hands — learn more about SFBC’s BIKES ONboard project and get involved.
- Caltrain schedules
- be smart, be courteous — top tips on using Caltrain with a bike
- Caltrain’s Bicycle Service FAQ
- be a good bike+rail rider and tag your bike — download a tag here
- User-reported realtime bike car availability on Twitter