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Whoa there, Caltrain is actually among the best performing commuter rail systems in the country. While it doesn't have the 300K+ daily riders that the LIRR, Metra and Metro North have, Caltrain does amazingly well with 45K (latest count) daily riders on 49 miles of track. The east cost providers have hundreds of miles of track and branches that reach into dozens of areas.
Caltrain is planning on electrifying their tracks with overhead wires and purchasing new lightweight european style equipment to replace the existing diesel service. This upgrade will make service faster and more reliable since the electric equipment can accelerate quicker and it's less maintenance intensive. The estimated cost for purchasing new equipment and electrifying the 49 miles from SJ-SF was around $2 billion.
This is why BART should never enter the peninsula– it's extremely expensive and prodigal. BART is a heavy rail urban subway that attempts to provide suburban service at an extremely high cost to the region. For example, the 16 mile San Jose-Fremont extension is estimated to cost $6 bilion and its completion has been officially drawn out to 2035 or later because its so resource demanding.
Caltrain provides express service– something that BART was never designed to do, and can provide all the benefits of BART at a fraction of the cost. The electrification project will make Caltrain service much faster and more reliable and trains can be run more frequently should the 3 counties it travels through decide to fund it properly. Train frequency (how often the train comes) isn't inherent to BART– Caltrain can run just as frequently but it just needs the proper funding.
Yeah, I've heard about that. But it's the current state of Caltrain that makes me hate it. Any word on that project?
The NIMBYs railside would be trading one train for another, better one. While demands for safety, less emissions, and less noise should inform mitigations, it would suck for regional and statewide transportation if peninsula people kill the whole project. Caltrain can only do so much as is.
I am doing research on why commuter rail service in the Northeast and Chicagoland is more heavily used than those in Western Cities such as Los Angeles despite the horrific traffic there. So what are your reasons for taking the train instead of driving or the bus?
If you live and/or work near a station, it's pretty convenient (and there are some company shuttles at some stops).
There are a multitude of issues, though. Such as:
- some of the SF stations not being near much for most people (more-so an issue for SF, because most of the peninsula towns stops are right in the town centers),
- its issues with not being grade-seperated most of the way (which, unfortunately leads to car/people collisions sometimes...and major delays)
- too many stops on weekends/off commute hours
- not enough trains on weekends/off commute hours (to be considered reliable public transit, that is)
- annoying funding issues since it actually doesn't have direct funding...it relies on funding from three different transit organizations (which, as you can figure, are looking for ways to cut their costs, with Caltrain being at the forefront of those cost cutting sprees, often)
That being said, for me (and others), it works very well for what's it set up to do. It allows me to go days/weeks without touching my car since I can walk to the station from where I live, and take it right to work (and I live in the middle of "suburbia"). It's also very clean (compared to other train-transit options...cough*bart*) and the ride is pretty relaxing (unless there's a Giants game). And you can take bikes on it anytime (something you can't do on Bart).
It's definitely not perfectly set up; and I can see why they'd opt for other means of transportation. And it could definitely be a lot better (and I hope it, or something like it, eventually does). But, it works for many people; and many people do take it every day.
Last edited by HockeyMac18; 08-25-2011 at 07:47 PM..
1) Caltrain is slow as f***. 2 hours to get into San Francisco with regular service (mind you I don't work in SF, and travel to SF for leisure and photography).
That's for the off peak trains. The baby bullets are very fast (top speed is 79 mph), and can get you from SJ to SF in an hour! Try that in a car (or, better yet, on Bart)...So the problem isn't speed (which is pretty good). The problem is there are too many stops, which causes non-express trains to be slow. I wish they'd just close some stations (or set up the schedule better)...I mean, outside of SF or the few peninsula downtown where there are apartments near the station (like where I live in San Mateo), no one walks to the station...most people drive to the stations and park; so just close the small/less used stations, and this would make things so much faster during non-commute times.
Originally Posted by Atsuke
6) It's more expensive for me to take Caltrain than BART. Did I mention it's slower?
I always thought they were similarly priced (for the distance)...but I do know Caltrain has raised their prices more than once in a short amount of time...
Originally Posted by Atsuke
8) Caltrain is in a budget crisis = service cuts. BART, not so much, in fact they had a surplus recently.
Their funding plan is completely stupid...why do they rely on 3 other transit agencies?? I've never really been able to understand that...I don't get why they don't have a more reliable funding system.
Originally Posted by Atsuke
I'm all for rounding BART around the Bay Area and ripping Caltrain out of its tracks.
I'm not a gigantic fan of BART for various reasons (stupidly expensive to build, they use non-standard gauge rail (stupid design decision that we have to live with), it's pretty damn dirty, it isn't THAT fast (I hate seeing cars pass our train in the section where it parallels 280))...but it is good enough, is somewhat reliable (with trains that come pretty often), and it covers most of the bay area. I really don't get why it wasn't just built around the bay in the first place...now the costs to expand it will be astronomically higher, and we're left with this annoyingly splintered transit system in the bay area with multiple agencies...
Originally Posted by Atsuke
Or just let California High Speed Rail use it.
I really hope the nimbys lose on this one so that they can get something faster through that corridor. Also, electrifying the line (come on, it's the freaking 21st century!!) will help a lot with pollution, noise, and acceleration (less time spent in train). What is with people and their anti-build mentality here? I'm all for preservation and keeping things nice, but upgrading our infrastructure is something that needs to be done (and can be done well). If we spent even fraction of the money that's being spent on that BART extension to SJ, the entire Caltrain corridor could be improved.
Last edited by HockeyMac18; 08-25-2011 at 07:46 PM..
I don't take Caltrain because it is expensive and inconvinient. When I worked in SF, transit was the only way to go (I occasionally carpooled with a coworker, or casual carpool).
Today I work in San Mateo 1-2 days per week. I live in Oakland. Hypothetically if I took the Caltrain I would need to:
1. Take the bus or BART to downtown SF
2. Walk 1 mile or take Muni Metro to the Caltrain station
3. Take an infrequent train
4. Take the once per hr shuttle to my office park
Estimated time: 90-110 mminutes each way. Driving: 35-60 min each way. (I can leave outside of commute hours)
A few of my coworkers live in SF, some even near the Caltrain station. They drive and/or carpool with each other.
The Caltrain stations are really far from the suburban office parks. And a large portion of Bay Area jobs are dispersed in far from transit. (And amenities, like lunch spots, cafes, drugstores....)
I commute from SF to Silicon Valley.
I don't take Caltrain because my employer provides me a free shuttle.
But if they didn't, I wouldn't take Caltrain because the station in SF is quite far from where I live (Upper Market), and the station in Mountain View is quite far from where I work.
I used to live in the city and commute down to the Silicon Valley (for a year and a half). I took Caltrain to Mountain View every day and then took my company shuttle to the office. As I lived in SOMA and had a 20+ minute walk to the 4th & King Station (not to mention the obligatory Starbucks/Philz stop), total door-to-door time each way was approx. 2 hours (4 hour round trip).
While this was excessive, it still beat the commute by car. It would routinely take me 90 minutes to 2+ hours and the stop-and-go on 101 is extremely stressful. Although Caltrain added some time to my commute, it was worth it for peace of mind, not to mention being able to get work done on the train.
Now, as you can see, the commute eventually still got to me and I relocated down to the valley about 2 1/2 years ago.
BART does not go to San Jose.
The most comparable ride I could find was on the longest line, from Pittsburg/Bay Point to SFO on BART, is 48.5 miles, and takes 86 mins
Definitely, that would be ideal.
But sadly with my experiences, Caltrain is hardly on time. Schedules are nothing but paper when they aren't followed. BART's delays are mostly minor unless there's a major disruption.
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