Thousands of people depend on Caltrain every day as a convenient and sustainable way to commute between San Francisco and the Peninsula. The SF Bicycle Coalition continues to work on improving access and capacity on Caltrain so you can combine bikes and transit to get around.
Since 2004, the number of passengers bringing their bike on Caltrain has grown 364%. Thanks to the advocacy of our BIKES ONboard team and Caltrain’s leadership, bike capacity was increased in 2009 to include two bike cars for every train. While this was a huge help for the many who need their bike to commute every day to and from Caltrain, people continue to get “bumped” every day due to limited bike capacity. Join our campaign today and support our work in advocating for bikes and transit.
Caltrain is renewing their Strategic Plan, which will “establish a common vision for the agency and will frame key policy, service and investment decisions over the next 10 years.” Our formal comment has been submitted and published here. Included in this letter, our recommendations to Caltrain are to:
1. Increase bicycle capacity on Caltrain in the near-term and long-term
- Retrofit at least half of the Bombardier cars into bike cars as part of the near-term purchase
- Conduct analysis on other near-term improvements to increase bike capacity with results published publicly
- Increase bike capacity on the new car purchase as part of Caltrain electrification and modernization
2. Increase wayside facilities to increase secure bicycle parking at Caltrain stations
3. Allow for priority boarding for passengers with bicycles on bike cars in order to speed the boarding process for all passengers
4. Develop a system for communicating real-time bike capacity
5. Develop a plan for integrating Bay Area Bike Share expansion into the future of Caltrain
1. Submit your bike bump regularly. Right now, Caltrain only records bumps as part of their annual ridership report. Our BIKES ONboard team compiles all the submissions and we publish this information regularly. The more you are able to submit, the more accurate our information is!
2. Attend a Caltrain meeting. There are three regular meetings where you can speak directly to decision makers at Caltrain.
3. Make sure you know the rules! Not sure how to bring your bike on Caltrain? Take a look at the rules and be a respectful passenger to others.
Caltrain has been a leader when it comes to bikes and transit, and the work of bicycle advocates has helped the process along.
1982: Southern Pacific Railroad introduces a four-month demonstration project, allowing 4 bikes in the aisle of the cab car
1992: Caltrain is established and bike space is created, allowing 8 bikes per train
1996: Caltrain increases the bike space, allowing 24 bikes per train
2002: Caltrain increases to 32 bikes on Gallery bike cars but only 16 bikes on new Bombardier bike cars
2004: Caltrain Strategic Plan recommends “improved access” for bicycles and states that Caltrain must “encourage bicycling and walking to stations by providing related facilities and amenities”
2009: Caltrain increases to 40 bikes on Gallery bike cars and 24 bikes on Bombardier bike cars, and upgrades all Bombardier trains to two bike cars
2011: Caltrain upgrades all Gallery trains to two bike cars
Our BIKES ONboard team has been working to increase access and capacity for bicycles on Caltrain for years. They have also written reports to analyze the numbers of how increasing access and capacity increases revenue, ridership and overall performance of Caltrain. Read the reports below (links directly to pdf).
Media coverage about bikes and Caltrain highlights the importance of this issue to the community as a whole. Many of our members have written letters to the editor, published in SF Examiner, SF Chronicle, San Mateo Daily Journal and other local newspapers. We have compiled these letters below.
Published August 4, 2014 in the San Mateo Daily Journal and August 6, 2014 in the Almanac
“Letter: Bikes on Caltrain,” by Bob Mack
I use Caltrain for business and personal travel on a regular basis. Due to the nature of my travel, I use different destinations almost every time I board the train, which makes bringing my bike a necessity. Without the Bikes on Board program, I would be forced back into my car for these trips, costing Caltrain a regular fare, and adding another car to our congested roads.
It is very important that the Peninsula Corridor Electrification Project environmental impact report includes an evaluation of the benefits of bringing bicycles on board Caltrain. The reasons are simple but critical. People who bring bikes on the train take cars off the road. Bikes on the train take cars out of the parking lots, making room for other Caltrain customers to park.
Caltrain has seen consistent increases in ridership from passengers who bring bikes on the train, even when overall ridership dropped. Every time additional bicycle carriage space has been added on the trains, it fills beyond capacity at peak travel times. This shows the customer demand for the service.
“Letter: Bike support on new trains” by Josh Galde
Caltrain is expected to release its response to public comment for its electrification environmental impact report within a few months. Back in March, my written comment included the request that the benefits of bikes on board be considered and evaluated as part of the EIR scope and work.
I purposefully got rid of my vehicle because I knew I could take my bike on Caltrain to get to my office in San Mateo. In addition, I asked that there be enough places to store bikes onboard. Currently, the older gallery trains hold more bikes than the new ones, and as a result I have been bumped many times from the newer trains. Every time I ride Caltrain, I see more and more bikes, currently at 13 percent of ridership but only limited due to capacity. Projections show that that trend is going to push the limits of Caltrain’s bike capacity to overflowing by the 2019 launch of the new system to well over 20 percent of Caltrain’s ridership.
Including bikes in electrification is essential to Caltrain’s future in providing an efficient and environmentally friendly commute.
“Bicycles on Caltrain grow” by Shirley Johnson
Caltrain has done a tremendous job of transforming itself into the top bicycle-accessible, commuter rail system in the nation, but it still hasn’t done enough to meet the growing demand. Since 2010, bicycle boardings grew a whopping 120 percent, whereas walk-on boardings increased less than 50 percent. Bicycle boardings would have been even higher if they hadn’t been capped by limited bike capacity.
Paid customers with bicycles are routinely denied service, but walk-on customers are all allowed to board. Yet Caltrain is apparently planning to add more seating capacity, but not more bike capacity.
It’s unfair that one type of customer gets left behind on the platform while everyone else is served. This imbalance is especially troubling because passengers with bicycles don’t use expensive parking spaces or occupy seats on publicly subsidized shuttles.
“Allowing bikes aboard Caltrain helps us all” by Suzie Scales
I’m a Caltrain commuter who bikes to and from the Hillsdale-South San Francisco stations. The Bay Area will definitely continue to benefit from reduced congestion and pollution if Caltrain continues bike accommodation on electrified trains.
Biking is by far the most convenient and greenest way of getting to the station for the many of us who live and/or work more than a half-mile from a station, as well as being cheaper in the face of rising fuel prices.
If I were unable to bring my bike onboard, I’d have to resort to driving to work by myself. This would drastically decrease my quality of life. It would also cause gallons of gas wasted unnecessarily, an increase in traffic congestion leading to more accidents, road rage and overly tired drivers, not to mention the indirect effect of keeping the U.S. more dependent on oil.
“Letter: Caltrain needs more bike capacity” by Shirley Johnson
Caltrain has done a tremendous job of transforming itself into the top bicycle-accessible, commuter rail system in the nation, but it still hasn’t done enough to meet the growing demand. Since 2010, bicycle boardings grew a whopping 120 percent, whereas walk-on boardings increased less than 50 percent. Bicycle boardings would have been even higher, if they hadn’t been capped by limited bike capacity.
Paid customers with bicycles are routinely denied service, but walk-on customers are all allowed to board. Yet Caltrain is apparently planning to add more seating capacity, but not more bike capacity.
It’s unfair that one type of customer gets left behind on the platform while everyone else is served. This imbalance is especially troubling, because passengers with bicycles don’t use expensive parking spaces or occupy seats on publicly subsidized shuttles. Caltrain staff assures us they are working on solutions for customers with bicycles and has advised that commute-hour cyclists may want to adjust their schedules to ride trains with adequate bike capacity. Perhaps Caltrain should issue a tardy pass to employers: “Sorry I was late. Caltrain told me to change my work schedule.”
Shirley Johnson, Ph.D.
“Letter: Justification for bikes on electrified Peninsula corridor trains” by Suzie Scales
I’m a Caltrain commuter who bikes to and from the Hillsdale and South San Francisco stations. The Bay Area will definitely continue to benefit from reduced congestion and pollution if Caltrain continues bike accommodation on electrified trains. Biking is by far the most convenient and greenest way of getting to the station for the many of us who live and/or work more than half a mile away from a station, as well as being cheaper in the face of rising fuel prices.
If I were unable to bring my bike onboard, I’d have to resort to driving to work by myself. This would drastically decrease my quality of life, as I’d not only waste time driving, but also wouldn’t benefit from my current cycling exercise, ability to catch up on work on the train and the ease of transporting my 2-year-old toddler; she loves riding on the back of my bike but hates being strapped in the car seat. Additionally, it would cause gallons of gas wasted unnecessarily, an increase in traffic congestion leading to more accidents, road rage and overly tired drivers, not to mention the indirect effect of keeping the United States at war over oil.
“More space needed for bicycle boardings” by Shirley Johnson
Caltrain has done a tremendous job of transforming itself into the top bicycle-accessible, commuter rail system in the nation, but it still hasn’t done enough to meet the growing demand. Since 2010, bicycle boardings grew a whopping 120 percent, whereas walk-on boardings increased less than 50 percent. Bicycle boardings would have been even higher if they hadn’t been capped by limited bike capacity. Paid customers with bicycles are routinely denied service, but walk-on customers are all allowed to board. Yet Caltrain is apparently planning to add more seating capacity, but not more bike capacity. This imbalance is especially troubling, because passengers with bicycles don’t use expensive parking spaces or occupy seats on publicly subsidized shuttles.
Leader, BIKES ONboard project San Francisco Bicycle Coalition
“Letter: Bikes on Caltrain — a plea to maintain or increase capacity” by Maurizio Franzini
I regularly ride my bicycle to one of the stations in San Francisco and from there onto the train to my workplace in the Peninsula. If I weren’t able to carry my bicycle on the train, I wouldn’t have any other option but driving, which I truly dislike.
That’s why I’m asking Caltrain to maintain or even increase bike capacity on the planned new train. I would even be willing to pay extra (I actually think this would be something to consider, especially for the faster trains). Consider the recent pilot by BART, whereby bicycles are now allowed on all trains — I see many more riders than before. Ideally, I would like every train to have one or two entire cars for bikes only; separating bikers from regular passengers could also benefit timeliness. Thanks for your kind attention.
Maurizio Franzini, PhD
“Letter: Double-bike commute” by Ruben Contreras
I had the “perfect” solution to the “lack of bike accommodations on Caltrain problem” about 20 years ago (shared in another Peninsula newspaper). It looks like it’s time to share it with the current generation of train-bikers.
After biking to the train station on a well-maintained, but unattractive bike, I parked (and locked) the bike and boarded the train. At the work-end of the train commute, I simply picked up a second, equally unattractive bike, patiently waiting to carry me to my work site.
Both bikes were very cheap, fully functional and in no way attractive to any self-respecting bike thief. It worked for me — I was never bumped for lack of bike accommodations, nor lost a bike in my years of bike-train commuting.
“Letter: Caltrain’s lack of bike expansion on new electrified trains is counterproductive” by Scott Yarbrough
I appreciate that electrified trains will continue to include an on-board component to bicycle access, but am disappointed that the EIR failed to adequately factor in the degree to which a further increase in bicycle on-board access to electrified trains will benefit local environment and regional air quality.
I require my bicycle on both ends of my commute. I’ve a professional mandate to be at meetings and provide services at a specific start time each day, so a bumping incident, even if only once or twice a month, is a reason to abandon my regular use of Caltrain. If electrification results in expanded cyclist use of Caltrain that exceeds Caltrain’s ability to meet demand, I’ll return to an automobile commute.
The EIR factors in the degree to which improved air quality will be an outcome of the transition from dirty diesel to electric trains, yet fails to address the fact that many current and future cyclists will choose to drive when reliable bike on-board access isn’t available. The potential environmental benefits highlighted as a major benefit of the electrification project are overemphasized in the absence of a robust plan to expand Caltrain’s bike on-board policies.
San Francisco/Redwood City
“Caltrain should add many more bike cars” by Bryn Doyle
I’ve been riding Caltrain with my bike as part of my daily commute for seven years. The bike car has steadily become more crowded in that time. Adding a second bike car was a huge relief, but now two bike cars is not enough. Nearly every bike car I ride is near or at capacity at some point of my trip. When people get bumped off Caltrain, or realize that they might get bumped, it discourages the use of Caltrain. This defeats Caltrain’s goals of increasing ridership (and revenue) and also negatively affects traffic, congestion and our environment.
With the purchase of more Bombardier cars, I encourage Caltrain to configure the new cars as bike cars. Caltrain must consider making every new Bombardier car a bike car. I see no other way to keep up with the growth of bicycle commuting here in the Bay Area.
“Letter: Caltrain should increase bicycle capacity” by Hilary Douglas
I’ve been commuting from Fourth and King streets in San Francisco to Palo Alto every day for three years. While I love the newer trains, which are the most convenient, I’ve learned to avoid them at all costs.
Even when I know I can get my bike on, I find it incredibly stressful to sit comfortably in my seat watching fellow commuters at 22nd Street get bumped and in turn get very angry at the conductors. Obviously, the riders’ anger is misplaced and it’s a tense situation for all parties, but the interaction always makes me uncomfortable and a bit guilty that I made the train and will arrive at work at the time I intended.
I’ve adjusted my commute to times when the older cars (read: more bike space) are operating. My commute time’s 90 minutes each way if I make my intended train, but every bump, or train I choose to skip, is more time I’m away from family, friends and home. I hope Caltrain will consider increased bike capacity so that those of us trying to do something good for ourselves and the planet can continue to do so and that Caltrain remains a viable commuting option as our population expands.
“Letter: Caltrain needs more bike capacity” by Patricia Hallam Joseph
Being bumped from the Caltrain with my bike significantly affects my life and ability to do business. Unfortunately, at least once a week, I am bumped from not one, but two trains at the Millbrae station.
It’s upsetting despite having arrived to the station early and waiting patiently for the train to come. My husband travels to Fourth and King streets every day and I go to Palo Alto. We own a car, but prefer not to drive, especially with how expensive the commute is in the Bay Area. However, being bumped from the Caltrain has been so detrimental as to make riding it with our bikes a gamble every morning. I am so happy to hear that the Caltrain is adding additional cars to the trains. Please, please, please consider making more cars bike cars.
As we deal with increasingly severe environmental and economic consequences from climate change, we absolutely cannot keep being a society of drivers. Additionally, it’s just plain lovely to not sit in dead stopped traffic all morning, and to enjoy the gorgeous landscapes of the Bay Area from a train car while getting time to read the news and be alone with one’s thoughts.
Patricia Hallam Joseph, Ph.D.
“Bicyclists have a right to ride the train” by Kathleen Gabriel
As a daily commuter with Caltrain for over 10 years, I rely on being able to bike to and from the station. I’ve been bumped from the bike car several times this year.
Recently, I was among three lucky bicyclists who got on the train in San Mateo, leaving five unlucky commuters behind. The conductor then scornfully said that we should feel lucky that bikes were allowed on the train at all, lecturing a fellow rider for the next three stops about how it was ridiculous that bicyclists should expect to ride on the train. It’s unfortunate that a Caltrain employee feels that bicyclists have less of a right to public transit than pedestrians. There have been times that I’ve been bumped from two trains in a row, so now more often than not if I’m bumped from a train I’ll give up and drive instead.
As the Bay Area is growing more concerned with both traffic congestion and sustainable transit options, it makes sense to not just connect the different mass transit systems of BART, Muni and Caltrain, but to make it possible for more people to use their bicycles in conjunction with mass transit.
“Bikes on Board” by Karl Schults
While I have not personally been bumped from Caltrain due to capacity, the bike cars are always very full, and I likely have only escaped this fate because I tend to ride trains leaving the downtown San Francisco station, and arrive early enough to board before the train is full. When the bike cars are full to capacity, it can take a long time for bikers to disembark at a station, as they have to squeeze through all the people waiting, find and remove their bike from the rack, and then squeeze through everyone again, this time with the added encumbrance of a bike.
As part of the new purchase of bombardier cars, I strongly encourage Caltrain to retrofit the new cars to make them bike cars instead of just telling bikers to rearrange their schedule. There is only so far that strategy can work, and mostly it discourages commuters from biking in the first place. While that does reduce congestion in the bike cars, I’m sure that is not the desired outcome.
“Letter: Caltrain bikes on board” bye Ashlynne Camuti
I was turned away from the southbound bullet train out of San Francisco (6:14) every day in one week. Bike capacity has been at a maximum the past couple of months making transportation to and from work (Mountain View to San Francisco) extremely unreliable. I am voicing my concern and advocating to expand bicycle storage capacity for this growing sector of commuters. I hope my voice can count. I appreciate this service that Caltrain offers and hope to see it expand to become more reliable.
“Letter: Bicyclists contribute to transit system” by Janice Li
The allegation that bicycles don’t pay for the transportation system is inaccurate (Guest perspective “Caltrain bike cars: The other side of the story” in the Sept. 23 edition of the Daily Journal). We’re worlds removed from anything dependent solely on gas tax revenue; more than 50 percent of the cost of building and maintaining roads is paid for by general fund dollars, i.e. tax and bond revenue that’s shared by all residents. For systems like Caltrain, which is entirely dependent on general fund revenue, bicyclists, especially those buying Caltrain tickets, have an even stronger role in funding the system.
Everyone pays for city streets and inter-city transportation systems when we shop, or file federal, state and local income and property taxes. Tax revenues are what support Caltrain. Not only are bicyclists paying their fair share, they often pay more than vehicular drivers. Economist Todd Littman found that the average U.S. driver travels 10,000 miles “around-town” each year, contributing $324 in taxes while costing the public $3,360. By contrast, someone biking everywhere contributes a yearly average of $300 but only costs the public $36.
Each Bombardier car that Caltrain will buy can accommodate more than 130 passengers. When converted to a bike car that can provide carriage of 24 bicycles, there’ll still be at least 110 seats easing overall capacity overload. Given the record high number of passengers “bumped” from Caltrain due to insufficient bike capacity and consistency who then quit using the service and return to an automobile commute, Caltrain will actually be saving passengers, and increasing revenue, by reliably providing space for people to bring their bikes onboard.
The letter writer is a community organizer for the San Francisco Bicycle Coalition, which advocates on behalf of over 10,000 members to promote the bicycle for everyday transportation.
“Letter: Bicycle riders and Caltrain” by Tom Young
In response to Mr. Olberg’s op-ed “ Caltrain bike cars: The other side of the story” in the Sept. 23 edition of the Daily Journal, people riding bicycles aren’t after a free ride; they’re just trying to get places. They’re not asking for a handout from taxpayers; they are taxpayers. All methods of transport receive some kind of subsidy, whether it’s the pavement on the sidewalk, the multitude of roads and freeways or indeed some space aboard Caltrain. They’re all dependent on and heavily subsidized by general tax dollars.
While it is true that each bicycle allowed on board takes up approximately the space of one seat, it doesn’t mean that each seat removed is one less passenger. Passengers find all kinds of places to sit and will even stand. I’ve never witnessed someone without a bicycle refused boarding no matter how full the train is; and on those Giants Game Day trains it gets pretty full. However, a person with a paid ticket in hand who is refused travel with their bicycle won’t be riding the train at all.
While having a bike at both ends sounds like a good idea, the article ignores the costs of adding thousands of extra secure bike parking lockers. It’s also not a flexible enough solution for many people who use different stations.
“Letter: Biking creates flexibility of Caltrain riders” by Tracy Corral
The suggestion that all bicycle commuters buy two bicycles and park one at each end of their Caltrain trip is already used by some, but doesn’t work for most Caltrain passengers, because it limits flexibility.
A 2007 Caltrain passenger survey found that 58 percent of bicyclists cited flexibility as their key reason for bringing their bikes onboard. About 40 percent of bicyclists routinely vary their normal commute by starting or ending at a different station.
Today’s Caltrain schedule results in some stations with infrequent service, but a bicycle enables a passenger to use various stations. For example, train service to Belmont is once per hour. A bicyclist traveling from San Francisco Fourth and King streets to Belmont could exit at Belmont, but also at Hillsdale, San Carlos or Redwood City and easily ride to Belmont. By adding other exit stations for a morning commute, the bicyclist can board any of 10 trains between 7 a.m. and 9 a.m. instead of only two trains. Such flexibility would be impossible without being able to bring one’s bike on board the train. It’s particularly important to be able to bring bikes on board trains for destinations on the Peninsula, where public transport options can be limited and infrequent.
The majority of bicyclists need to bring their bikes onboard to make Caltrain a viable transportation solution. I applaud Caltrain for providing onboard bicycle service, and look forward to the new Bombardier cars configured as bike cars to support intermodal transportation solutions.
“Letter: Caltrain bike capacity” by Daniel Hall
I’ve been a loyal daily Caltrain bike commuter for the last two years, riding 15 minutes from 29th and San Jose to 22nd Street to catch a bullet train. The only bullet trains I even try to make are the 7:02 a.m. or the 9:02 a.m. departures. The three other bullet trains are almost always at capacity. Once I was one of 18 bumped riders.
Whenever I have an important class, presentation or meeting that I cannot miss, I know from experience that I shouldn’t depend on Caltrain for any of the five bullet morning trains. Instead, I carpool to campus with a friend.
I love Caltrain, but I’m also nervous. Bike bumps are becoming more frequent. Stanford University has just agreed to provide a GoPass to all graduate student commuters like me. While I am thankful for the lower cost the pass provides, I am worried this will only accelerate the rapid expansion of cyclists who use Caltrain to go from San Francisco to Stanford.
What will the future look like for Caltrain bike commuters like me? Will Caltrain expand capacity to accommodate our growing numbers? Or will I need to start looking at other options for my commute?
“Letter: Caltrain’s bikes-on-board service is cost effective” by Shirley Johnson
A recent opinion piece (Guest perspective “Caltrain bike cars: The other side of the story” in the Sept. 23 edition of the Daily Journal) erroneously claimed that bringing a bicycle onboard Caltrain is putting a high burden on taxpayers. In fact, bikes-on-board provides one of the most cost-effective methods available when one considers the full cost of the commute. Most Caltrain users require some additional transportation to and from the station. Bikes-on-board users require only space for their bicycles on the train. They do not require parking spaces, buses or shuttle service, all of which receive higher subsidies from taxpayer dollars than a bike space on the train.
Caltrain’s parking lots are located on valuable downtown real estate, and there is limited parking available at Caltrain stations. The only way to increase parking would be to build multi-level parking structures at a cost of over $30,000 per parking space. Providing onboard bicycle space promotes bicycling instead of driving, a much more cost-effective solution.
Caltrain has recognized the benefits bicycles bring to the transportation system, and has adopted a Comprehensive Access Policy in which bicycling is prioritized higher than driving as a station access mode. Caltrain is doing the right thing by continuing to expand its bikes-on-board service to attract more riders and ticket revenue. Payback period for increasing onboard bike capacity has historically been less than six months, an excellent financial investment.
Shirley Johnson, Ph.D.
The letter writer is the leader of the BIKES ONboard project of the San Francisco Bicycle Coalition
“Letter: Increased bike capacity on Peninsula Caltrain” by Martin Love
I’m a 23-year San Mateo resident and six-year Caltrain bike commuter who, on average, is bumped one to two times per week on Northbound 269 out of Redwood City, and it’s only getting worse. If it gets worse, I will go back to commuting in my car.
If the Caltrain board is serious about increasing ridership on the Caltrain Peninsula commute route, and reducing Bay Area air pollution, then they can’t ignore the over 300 percent increase in bike patrons on board Caltrain in the last decade. If you connect the dots as to how workers are changing their old commute habits, then it’s a safe bet that more people will be riding their bikes as part of their daily commute. County and city planners are adding more bike lanes and bike/pedestrian paths to accommodate the future increased demand from additional cyclists, and this needs to be integrated with more bike capacity in Caltrain’s future plan. If more bike capacity is ignored for Caltrain’s future, then they will become the “missing link” in the overall plan to reduce pollution and reduce traffic congestion.
“Bikes on Caltrain” by Phil King
I bring my bike on Caltrain from San Mateo to San Francisco five days a week and have done so for the past six years. I’ve been bumped from trains many times, especially on my northbound trip from Hillsdale to S.F. The frequency of “bumps” has been increasing as ridership has grown; I was bumped from my usual northbound train three times in the past month.
On one occasion, eight other cyclists were bumped along with me. Having to wait 30 minutes for another train, or having to take a local train instead of an express, is a very poor option on the occasions when I’ve been bumped.
I end up missing meetings and generally having a negative experience that also impacts my team at work. I believe strongly that adding a third bike car to commute-hour trains would both be a good fit for ridership trends and would also encourage continued ridership growth. I very much hope that Caltrain will add bike capacity as part of the move to six-car trains.
“More Bike Cars Need on Caltrains” by Martin Mackerel
I’m a programmer; I live in San Francisco and I’ve worked at jobs in SF and up and down the Peninsula for the last 15 years. While I currently work in SF, it’s likely that I will work in the South Bay again in the next couple of years. Whenever I work in the South Bay, I commute by biking to Caltrain from home, bringing the bike on board, and then biking to my workplace. I’m happy that Caltrain is buying more of the new Bombardier cars and electrifying the service. I respectfully request that these new cars include bike racks, and that a third bike car be added to all-Bombardier trains to increase bike capacity on those trains to 72. Only with consistent capacity that eliminates bumping can Caltrain be reliable and trusted; only with that reliability will more people use Caltrain and leave their cars behind. In my experience, there is no substitute to the combination of Caltrain and bicycling to allow me to engage in a long commute in a dependable, flexible and healthy way.
“Letter to Editor” by Steven Rosen
When Caltrain’s seats are full, people get to their destinations standing up. When bike cars are full, cyclists can’t ride. People are fired, charged overtime for day care, miss meetings, miss dates and otherwise lose time they’ll never get back.
People bring bicycles on-board Caltrain because their origins or destinations are too far from the stations to walk. It’s doubtful that bicyclists would use Bikeshare because bicycles are only free of daily fees if there are docks at the passenger’s workplace and home and the distance can be covered in less than 30 minutes.
There are no docks in my neighborhood, Bayview, and there never will be. Bikeshare will never be able to adequately cover the entire bicycle commute-shed of every single Caltrain station. The last mile problem remains. I will never leave my bicycle locked to a rack at the station because it will be used as a urinal and then stolen. Caltrain will never be able to supply enough bicycle lockers at its stations to accommodate all bicyclists. The bicycle locker waiting list is eternal.
Hopefully, the trains will be lengthened to accommodate more bicyclist and pedestrian passengers. The locomotive doesn’t need to be in the platform.
“Letter: Bicyclists seek space in Caltrain Changes” by: Pat Giorni
Kudos to Samantha Weigel for illuminating the bicycle commuter bumping problem on Caltrain in the article “Bicyclists seek space in Caltrain changes: Transit agency to buy used cars, electrify system” in the Dec. 1 edition of the Daily Journal. However, “older Gallery trains able to host up to 48 bicyclists and the newer Bombardier trains providing room for up to 80” is inaccurate. Gallerys host 80 cyclists; Bombardiers host 48.
What is at issue is whether the Caltrain board will vote to retrofit some of its newly purchased 16 Bombardier cars to add a third bike car to all Bombardier trains, bringing the complement to 72 bike spaces and providing long needed equipment consistency to overall ridership.
Kudos to Caltrain for considering bicycle carriage in its electrification project. That may be a solution five to six years down the road, but it does not address nor relieve today’s transportation crisis. Since 2009, 8,502 ticket-holding cyclists have reported their bumps to Caltrain. By simple averaging, 144 paid passengers are left behind on the platform monthly, while no other ticketed customer is denied boarding.
“Don’t Alienate the Solution” by Armando Fox
Bike riders are part of the solution to Bay Area traffic, not part of the problem of transit. The number one reason cited in transit surveys by people choosing not to take public transit is that it’s incompatible with their schedule. Yet Caltrain’s response to bike riders’ requests to add more bike cars is “Cyclists may want to adjust their schedules to ride trains with adequate bike capacity,” which is equivalent to saying “Cyclists may also want to drive their cars solo instead of choosing bike + Caltrain.”
I’ve been bike-bumped enough times to now drive from San Francisco to the Peninsula even when Caltrain’s schedule works for my commute, because my last mile relies on a bike connection. If the Peninsula was blanketed by efficient and frequent bus service or other transit, this would be different, but the last-mile options from most Peninsula stations ranges from inefficient to abysmal. Cyclists should be applauded for rising to that challenge, not treated as second-class citizens who should be expected to rearrange their schedule even as they are staring at half-empty passenger-only cars on the very trains that are denying them boarding.
“Letter: We Need Bike Racks on Caltrains” by Martin Mackerel
I’m a programmer. I live in San Francisco and I’ve worked at jobs in San Francisco and up and down the Peninsula for the last 15 years. While I currently work in San Francisco, it’s likely that I will work in the South Bay again in the next couple of years. Whenever I work in the South Bay, I commute by biking to Caltrain from home, bringing the bike on board and then biking to my workplace.
I’m happy that Caltrain is buying more of the new Bombardier cars and electrifying the service. I respectfully request that these new cars include bike racks, and that a third bike car be added to all-Bombardier trains to increase bike capacity on those trains to 72.
Only with consistent capacity that eliminates bumping can Caltrain be reliable and trusted; only with that reliability will more people use Caltrain and leave their cars behind. In my experience, there is no substitute to the combination of Caltrain and bicycling to allow me to engage in a long commute in a dependable, flexible and healthy way.