Coming to Caltrain: More Space for Bikes on Board

For their electric train cars scheduled to hit the tracks in 2020, the Caltrain Board today directed designers of the future trains to add more capacity for people with bikes.

Coming into the meeting, Caltrain’s staff recommended no increase in space dedicated to bikes on board. In a turn of events, however, the Caltrain Board rejected the staff’s recommendation. Instead, they passed directions to would-be designers to incorporate more space for bikes in the new electric trains.

On the current cars, the number of people who are “bumped,” or forced to wait for the next car for insufficient space, can exceed 300 per month – and that’s just based on the number of Caltrain riders who report to us when they are bumped. The actual number is likely higher. Caltrain’s current schedule suggests that passengers bumped from one train wait between five and 30 minutes for the next train to arrive, on which space is far from guaranteed.

We regularly hear from folks that Caltrain causes people to be late for work or for picking up their kids because there isn’t enough space for them on the train. That’s a huge problem. When transit options don’t meet the needs of a community, more people turn to private automobiles for commuting. The Board’s refusal to go along with the status quo is a real victory for improving regional transit.

None of this could have been possible without out SF Bicycle Coalition members making their voices heard. At the Board meeting today, speaker after speaker rose to the podium to support increased space for people who bike on Caltrain’s new fleet. And that came on the heels of over 100 of our members sending letters of support.

The number of people bringing bikes on Caltrain has risen 364 percent over the last 10 years, and continues rising. That’s why now — at the beginning of the process for redesigning their fleet — is the time that people who bike needed Caltrain to take action.

This is a significant step by the Caltrain Board in designing their new electric fleet amid increases to both the number of passengers who bike, as well as Caltrain’s overall number of passengers. Along with Silicon Valley Bicycle Coalition, we plan to continue advocating for improvements to Caltrain cars for people who bike. As roads continue to become more congested in the Bay Area, it is more important than ever to provide feasible alternatives to commuting by private automobile.

Caltrain’s modernization offers the promise of increasing capacity and reliability for everyone.

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