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Old 09-13-2011, 01:43 AM
Location: South Korea
5,242 posts, read 10,934,596 times
Reputation: 2920


I had to take Caltrain for three months straight a few years ago for a work project, and the trains were on time every single day, it was amazing. BART is pretty good but every couple of days they'll be off by at least a few minutes, or have a major delay. Caltrain's achilles heel is all the level crossings where it risks getting blocked by stalled cars or whatever, or people getting run over.
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Old 09-13-2011, 08:42 AM
Location: San Jose, CA
7,666 posts, read 24,544,052 times
Reputation: 3516
1) My commute is too short.

2) I commute off-hours when the traffic is lighter.

3) The light-rail is much more convenient to me as it drops me off at Great America Parkway. I'd need to catch the 60 bus to get from the Santa Clara station to work.

4) Caltrain goes through some pretty depressed and unattractive areas.
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Old 09-13-2011, 11:35 AM
Location: Sunnyvale, CA
4,599 posts, read 8,639,905 times
Reputation: 2173
Originally Posted by Atsuke View Post
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.
Actually it's almost always on time. But two or three times a month there will be a long delay (1 hour or more) for mechanical breakdown or fatalities.
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Old 09-13-2011, 11:36 AM
Location: Sierra Vista, AZ
16,102 posts, read 19,726,209 times
Reputation: 8191
It doesn't come to Sierra Vista AZ. If there was a high speed line I would be up there once a month
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Old 09-13-2011, 01:28 PM
Location: SF Bay Area
801 posts, read 1,986,915 times
Reputation: 252
I commute between San Francisco and Palo Alto daily, so I would love to be able to use Caltrain. However, the time that it would take me to get from my home to the Caltrain Station in SF plus the time from the Palo Alto station to my workplace (i.e. the commute not including the train ride itself) would be longer than my commute by car.
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Old 12-04-2012, 06:04 AM
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Reputation: 10
I travel alone to and from work as most people do. Even then, Caltrain costs me about $2 to $6 more each round trip depending if I take the nearby LightRail in SJ or drive to the Caltrain station. (For the cost of driving, I included both the car depreciation, maintenance and the cost of gas). Taking Caltrain also costs me 20 to 30 minutes more each round trip.

It is really annoying that public transportation costs more than driving alone. And I will have to own the car no matter if I use Caltrain or commute with the car to go to work. So the cost of buying the car, registering it and insuring it is a static cost.

I tried to take Caltrain for about a month. And I stopped after that b/c I am not willing to give up more time, more money and less flexibility to use public transportation.

And for people who carpool to work ... Forget about it!
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Old 12-05-2012, 12:07 AM
1,611 posts, read 5,892,286 times
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Personally, based on everything that I've read, the Bay Area would have been better off had Santa Clara County, and then San Mateo County, not withdrawn from BART in the late 1950s and early 1960s. BART rails would have long ago circled the Bay at a relatively low cost.

The SF terminus was never convenient for me, which is why I rarely took Caltrain when commuting from the Sunnyvale area to SF, back when I lived there. If I could do it over again, I probably would have connected to Muni more often.

Originally Posted by Jarkatmu View Post
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.
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Old 12-06-2012, 10:33 AM
Location: Liminal Space
1,018 posts, read 1,118,548 times
Reputation: 1292
Originally Posted by frischee112 View Post
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?
Have you tried researching job density near stations, train frequency, and transit connectivity? That will probably give you a more accurate and insightful picture of why certain rail systems are used more than others than asking people's opinions on City Data.

Originally Posted by mayorhaggar View Post
- the terminus station in SF is something like a mile or two from downtown SF where most people work. That means either a 20 minute walk from the station to work (and it often rains a lot in winter) or using a crappy Muni bus or light rail line. Fortunately when the new Transbay Terminal station is built it's supposed to have a new Caltrain terminus that would actually be in downtown SF, though it won't be finished for several years.
Indeed, the proposed Transbay Terminal has more jobs within 1/2 mile than ALL other Caltrain stations combined, from the current SF stop (4th and King) all the way down to Gilroy! I hope Caltrain makes its way up there some day...

Another important issues with Caltrain is the schedule - Not only does it run infrequently outside the peak period, the schedule is very confusing. The trains are spaced at random intervals, and seem to skip stations randomly (it is FAR more complex than just Baby Bullet vs. local all stops). That's fine if all you do is take the exact same train to and from work every day, but if you deviate from the routine you will have to always check the schedule, which is annoying. (Compare to BART which runs at very regular intervals like 15 or 20 minutes, and every train on a given line stops at the exact same stations.)
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Old 12-06-2012, 02:48 PM
Location: San Diego, California Republic
16,009 posts, read 20,800,623 times
Reputation: 8194
I had to take Caltrain once from Mountain View back into San Francisco. Not a pleasant experience. Too slow because it stops everywhere. To get back to SF I had to get off in Millbrae. I'd say it's right on par with San Diego's Coaster. Not the worse but not the best. It would help if it had a separate right of way so traffic wasn't an issue.

BART would be perhaps the best option for the bay area imo but it is expensive. Its faster generally. Cheapest way to do it; scrap Caltrain, isolate the right of way, build bridges over the street crossings and widen the tracks by 7 1/2 inches add a third rail. Cheaper than building from scratch.
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Old 12-06-2012, 07:16 PM
Location: San Francisco, CA
12,438 posts, read 9,797,948 times
Reputation: 10947
The central problem for those who have a primarily longitudinal commute and don't use it is probably the lack of good, frequent auxiliary commute options prior to or after using Caltrain. It's better in some areas such as San Jose, but all too often, if your exit is off somewhere in the peninsula...then what? Say you're in San Mateo - wait for SAMTRANS or something? Most people will choose the ability to better customize their destination with a car than to cripple their commute in such a manner.

I used to use it to and from my employer offices in SJ and SF, but now my schedule is just too unpredictable... I work a lot of hours, and the last thing I want after leaving the office at 10 pm or later is to walk half a mile in the cold dark here to the SJ station and then wait who knows how long to get home. Better to drive at that point.
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