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-   -   Caltrain Bike Bump Mail campaign (http://www.bikeforums.net/northern-california/433004-caltrain-bike-bump-mail-campaign.html)

murphstahoe 06-23-08 04:05 PM

Caltrain Bike Bump Mail campaign
 
Caltrain's Bicycle Master Plan Will Leave You Behind
If You Don't Speak Up Now!

Due to the overwhelming success of Caltrain's bikes on board program, an increasing number of bicyclists are bumped every day as bike-cars quickly fill to capacity. Unfortunately Caltrain's Draft Bicycle Master Plan does not address present or future bike-car capacity needs. In fact, the plan does not even acknowledge there is a capacity problem. Instead, the plan focuses exclusively on improving bike parking at the ten most popular Caltrain stations. Dont take our word for it, review the plan yourself at: http://www.caltrain.com/pdf/bike_mas...on_6-08_v2.pdf

Caltrain is Digging in Its Heels
Caltrain held three meetings in June to collect public comment. You can read bicyclists alarming accounts of these meetings at web address. We need more voices to add to theirs!

Submit Your Comments by July 3
Submit your comments to Caltrain at bikeplan@caltrain.com and cc bikesonboard@sfbike.org to help the SFBC in its effort to work with Caltrain to draft a real Bicycle Master Plan (not just a Bicycle Parking Plan). Please spread the word among cyclists!

bigbenaugust 06-23-08 04:13 PM

I heard about their plan on AM 1590 a couple of weeks ago and thought it was one of the dumbest things I've ever heard.

Instead of giving people (paying customers) what they want and need (more room to get people and their bikes from somewhere within cycling distance of point A to somewhere within cycling distance of point B and back), they're going to increase bicycle parking at the stations, which will only discourage cyclists from taking the train. Who does Caltrain think they are, the airline industry?

Also, what's the "web address" in the OP? My "I gave up on Caltrain last summer because the conductors were angry at the cyclists and the trains were crowded" story is hardly alarming, so I'd love to see some stories.

murphstahoe 06-23-08 04:53 PM

oops. I wanted to get this posted and put it out too soon - "web address" is italicized in the version I saw and it's still a draft. When I get it I will update.

"I gave up on Caltrain last summer because the conductors were angry at the cyclists and the trains were crowded" is exactly the story we need and why I posted here. SFBC is planning on passing out flyers at Caltrain, I pointed out that people who gave up on Caltrain won't get those flyers, and I don't think it's a big leap to say that people who gave up on Caltrain because of the bumping issue are the easiest customers for Caltrain to get now - much easier than trying to get someone who has never taken the train (and perhaps does not know it exists) to take it.

gazer 06-23-08 04:54 PM

Classic bureaucracy at work:

We have too many bikes on board...
...very few people like to park their bike at a station...
--> Let's improve bike parking at stations!

Completely ignores the fact that the availability (or not) of bike parking at stations likely has a very small effect on the demand for bikes on board.

rpiopio 06-23-08 05:01 PM

Wow, I just read the entire presentation and murphstahoe is correct, there is NO mention of increasing bike capacity on the trains. It's not even an "Innovative Concept" that they could just add bike cars or reconfigure portions of other cars. I don't get it. Caltrain has definitely received my comment.

bigbenaugust 06-23-08 05:19 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by murphstahoe (Post 6932680)
oops. I wanted to get this posted and put it out too soon - "web address" is italicized in the version I saw and it's still a draft. When I get it I will update.

"I gave up on Caltrain last summer because the conductors were angry at the cyclists and the trains were crowded" is exactly the story we need and why I posted here. SFBC is planning on passing out flyers at Caltrain, I pointed out that people who gave up on Caltrain won't get those flyers, and I don't think it's a big leap to say that people who gave up on Caltrain because of the bumping issue are the easiest customers for Caltrain to get now - much easier than trying to get someone who has never taken the train (and perhaps does not know it exists) to take it.

You are correct about that-- I'd at least consider going back if there were more room, as it is faster than light rail.

I figured with light rail behind my house and me being fit enough to just ride it all the time, that I didn't need to put up with Caltrain anymore. Since then, it's been strictly off-peak times and only when there's no better way to get home.

spingineer 06-23-08 06:01 PM

I just rode Caltrain yesterday for the first time in about 3 months. I really hate the re-configuration. You would think that with more people wanting to bike, due to high gas prices, they would accommodate for more spaces ... the new configuration seems to have less space than ever before.

sweetnsourbkr 06-23-08 06:08 PM

Sounds like the folding bike industry is a potential cash cow.

murphstahoe 06-23-08 06:17 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by sweetnsourbkr (Post 6933091)
Sounds like the folding bike industry is a potential cash cow.

If everyone who was taking a bike on Caltrain now took a folder on Caltrain, Caltrain would start bumping folders. Where are they supposed to go - in the seats Caltrain won't take out for more racks?

Those Stridas fold up pretty small and can perhaps even go under a seat, but they only have one gear, not exactly optimal for San Francisco. Some of the Bike Friday and Bromptons are reasonable, but there are people who bring 26 inch wheel Dahon folders onto the train, I swear they take up more space than regular bikes - at least more than a road frame with 700c wheelsets. You certainly don't see them being carried into the non-bike cars, on a full bike car they end up stuffed haphazardly and halfway into the aisles.

uspspro 06-23-08 07:09 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by spingineer (Post 6933059)
I just rode Caltrain yesterday for the first time in about 3 months. I really hate the re-configuration. You would think that with more people wanting to bike, due to high gas prices, they would accommodate for more spaces ... the new configuration seems to have less space than ever before.

That's not a reconfiguration. That was a new train (Bombardier). They usually use those for the Baby Bullets. Since you usually only ride the train on weekends, you have probably never been on the new style train until Sunday.

The new trains have been in commission for well over a year now.

annc 06-23-08 09:04 PM

I don't envy Caltrain. Many bike cars are at capacity, there's no money for new cars, some 14 cars are out of service, non-bike riders complain that bikes are in the way if conductors over stuff bikes, and bike riders complain there are no seats near their bikes so that they can't watch over them.

spingineer 06-23-08 09:31 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by uspspro (Post 6933405)
That's not a reconfiguration. That was a new train (Bombardier). They usually use those for the Baby Bullets. Since you usually only ride the train on weekends, you have probably never been on the new style train until Sunday.

The new trains have been in commission for well over a year now.

So they use Bombardier's on Sunday's only? I think the last time I rode Caltrain was on a Saturday, and it had the older style cars.

uspspro 06-23-08 10:17 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by annc (Post 6934125)
I don't envy Caltrain. Many bike cars are at capacity, there's no money for new cars, some 14 cars are out of service, non-bike riders complain that bikes are in the way if conductors over stuff bikes, and bike riders complain there are no seats near their bikes so that they can't watch over them.

The new trains should have a camera in the bike area, with a screen in the upstairs seating area. Simple

uspspro 06-23-08 10:19 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by spingineer (Post 6934288)
So they use Bombardier's on Sunday's only? I think the last time I rode Caltrain was on a Saturday, and it had the older style cars.

Nah, they use them mostly for commute hour bullets, but you will occasionally get them on the weekend.

Ty.S 06-23-08 11:39 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by uspspro (Post 6934538)
The new trains should have a camera in the bike area, with a screen in the upstairs seating area. Simple

Right.. a simple baby cam plugged into a TV pulled from a scrapped Greyhound bus would work. It was already said though, CalTrain is in a tough spot. Ridership is on the rise and they are now in a position that is somewhat new. They now have to figure out how to fix all the things they themselves have complained about not having the money for.

I left a comment as well. Hopefully they'll at least take a "suggestion". It would be a shame for people to finally start using mass transit, only to have mass transit kick them back into their cars.

murphstahoe 06-24-08 03:46 PM

The notes will be (or already are at)....

http://www.sfbike.org/caltrain_bob

As Shirley says below - we would really like to hear from people who abandoned Caltrain completely due to the bumping issue. For some of us - myself included - getting to the station without a bike is a non-starter, for me MUNI is 45 minutes *minimum* with no guarantees, and if I miss the train, I can't catch my employer shuttle. My bike commute varies between 14 and 15 minutes barring a flat or a crash, and with my bike in Sunnyvale it doesn't matter which Caltrain I catch. Driving? Screw that (and there's no parking anyway).

From Shirley at SFBC...

Hi John,

For web lists and blogs, I'd recommend adding the following text (feel
free to modify to your liking, of course). Thanks for posting (but
please wait until Andy updates the web site with the public
comments). Here' the suggested text:

If you stopped riding Caltrain, your voice is especially important!
Caltrain needs to hear that it is losing paying customers, because
there is not enough bike space on trains.

No matter where you ride, Caltrain's Bicycle Master Plan affects you,
too. Every bike on the train is one less car in your community,
making biking safer and more enjoyable for us all. Moreover, the rest
of the country looks to the Bay Area for new ideas in transportation.
Make sure Caltrain is worthy. Demand unlimited access for bikes on
board trains!

jimples 06-24-08 04:29 PM

If you think about it, Caltrain is doing the sensible business thing. Their trains are already full of passengers, and since a passenger+bike takes more space than a passenger without a bike, every bike they let on means they lose money.

The "add more bike racks" argument only works when there's spare capacity on those trains, which there isn't. The solution is to add more railcars, but that's difficult when new railcars come with a several-years-long lead time and when Caltrain is hoping to toss out all of their equipment in five to seven years to switch to electric trains.

murphstahoe 06-24-08 04:56 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by jimples (Post 6939180)
If you think about it, Caltrain is doing the sensible business thing. Their trains are already full of passengers, and since a passenger+bike takes more space than a passenger without a bike, every bike they let on means they lose money.

The "add more bike racks" argument only works when there's spare capacity on those trains, which there isn't. The solution is to add more railcars, but that's difficult when new railcars come with a several-years-long lead time and when Caltrain is hoping to toss out all of their equipment in five to seven years to switch to electric trains.

Question. Has a standing room passenger ever been denied boarding on Caltrain due to overcrowding on the train?

Answer? No.

For a minority of trains, the seats are full. Half with people, half with laptops, bags, newspapers, and lunch.
The rest of the trains have substantial empty capacity. The only true standing room train I have ever seen was a 4 car set (typical is 5 cars) before a Giants/A's game at rush hour on a Friday.

BART on the other hand is standing room only and packed. BART is "different?" How about Chicago Metra, MBTA Commuter Rail, NYC Commuter Rails - standard rail trains that are standing room.

You say that with gas at $4.70 in the Bay Area more people will be flocking to Caltrain and the seats will fill? How exactly are those people going to get to the stations? The parking lots are full.

mayukawa 06-24-08 05:12 PM

Given their fares, it seems it's not very cost effective to operate Caltrain. According to their website, it costs $8 round-trip for me to go from SF to San Mateo and back. Even with today's prices, it would still be cheaper for me to drive than to ride Caltrain. Wouldn't it be cheaper (as in use less fuel) to operate more light-weight cars than the ones they're using now?

murphstahoe 06-24-08 05:24 PM

mayukawa, apparently your car never needs oil changes, tires, etc... and never breaks down, and you park for free wherever you go.

The 2008 IRS Mileage rate is 50 cents per mile, and that was set before gas went up 33% in a year. Certainly true operating costs will vary, insurance does not vary (much) by amount driven, depreciation is more a factor of time than mileage. But at 40 miles round trip SF to San Mateo, and with an average gas price of $4.75 you need to get 24 MPG (in traffic at rush hour) just to break even on the gas.

And that's if you buy a day pass. For a regular-ish rider using 10 ride passes, the round trip is $6.80. Now you need to get 28 MPG to break even before any non gasoline costs.

Now, Caltrain has a plan to go to electrified rails which will be faster and more efficient. As my father in law would say, it pays for itself, but it won't write a check. Anything can be done with time and money. While I am not *****ing about ripping seats out for cyclists I am writing my congressman to fund Caltrain better. Note that I said "fund" as in Caltrain will not turn a profit, but as we know highways don't turn a profit either.

uspspro 06-24-08 05:24 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by mayukawa (Post 6939415)
Given their fares, it seems it's not very cost effective to operate Caltrain. According to their website, it costs $8 round-trip for me to go from SF to San Mateo and back. Even with today's prices, it would still be cheaper for me to drive than to ride Caltrain. Wouldn't it be cheaper (as in use less fuel) to operate more light-weight cars than the ones they're using now?

Let's say your car probably gets 25-30 mpg. So SM <-> SF is 1.5 gal of gas. That's almost $7 in gas.

At that point it's already close to being a wash.

But then factor in
#1- BIG) You have to park your car somewhere (This is huge!!! Especially for SF)
#2) Wear/maintenance cost of your car per mile.

Caltrain ends up being cheaper.

If you buy a monthly pass @ $106 per month. That comes out to $5 per day (There is usually 21 or 22 weekdays per month).

$5 a day is way cheaper than operating a car.

In my case, work pays for my train pass to promote using public transit. So my commute is FREE everyday other than buying bike tires, a chain and brake pads about once every year (if that).


PS- If you get a monthly pass you get free transfers on to VTA and SamTrans. You also get unlimited train travel on weekends/holidays.

annc 06-24-08 06:05 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by jimples (Post 6939180)
If you think about it, Caltrain is doing the sensible business thing. Their trains are already full of passengers, and since a passenger+bike takes more space than a passenger without a bike, every bike they let on means they lose money.

The "add more bike racks" argument only works when there's spare capacity on those trains, which there isn't. The solution is to add more railcars, but that's difficult when new railcars come with a several-years-long lead time and when Caltrain is hoping to toss out all of their equipment in five to seven years to switch to electric trains.

The smart "business" decision is raise prices on for bikes until no one is bumped. The smarter decision is simply not bump bikes and remove seats if necessary. As others have noted, walk-ons are never bumped regardless of the number of seats so this way increases the number of both bike and walk-on passengers.

But Caltrain is public transit and is supposed to serve the public so its primary goal should be to increase ridership and not revenue.

richardmasoner 06-25-08 03:24 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by jimples (Post 6939180)
Their trains are already full of passengers, and since a passenger+bike takes more space than a passenger without a bike, every bike they let on means they lose money

Passengers have never been displaced by bikes, and adding bike capacity does *not* remove passenger capacity, though seated capacity is reduced. There's room for about 300 passengers per car -- 130 seated and 200 standing. Remove the seats altogether (like BART is doing) and you have even more room for passengers.

Caltrain currently runs 4 train consists on some trains. 14 cars are out of service because of damage. Another 8 Bombardier cars are on order and will be delivered the end of the year. Once they have all of their cars in service Caltrain plans to run 5 cars on all trains and is investigating the feasibility of running 6 car trains.

Quote:

Originally Posted by murphstahoe
For a minority of trains, the seats are full.

I've been bringing my folding bike onto non-bike cars this last week, Murph, and I assure you this is no longer the case on the commute time trains I ride. I think you know this, but I travel between San Jose and Palo Alto (the two busiest stations on the line after San Francisco).

johnny99 06-25-08 06:24 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by annc (Post 6939720)
But Caltrain is public transit and is supposed to serve the public so its primary goal should be to increase ridership and not revenue.

I agree that Caltrain is not a business. The main purpose of public transit is to reduce the number of cars on the road. If Caltrain is reaching capacity, they should do what it takes to add more capacity. That has to be cheaper than building more freeways. Arnold's proposal to balance the budget by cutting back on public transit is just plain stupid.

murphstahoe 06-25-08 10:01 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by johnny99 (Post 6947014)
I agree that Caltrain is not a business. The main purpose of public transit is to reduce the number of cars on the road. If Caltrain is reaching capacity, they should do what it takes to add more capacity. That has to be cheaper than building more freeways. Arnold's proposal to balance the budget by cutting back on public transit is just plain stupid.

Absolutely. In a meeting with SFBC last night, Thornley made a good point. Caltrain always says "We don't have the funding to do X". What they don't say is "We could fix the capacity problem if we got X amount of funding".

At the Caltrain meeting, they brought up the concept of the attendees helping Caltrain come up with new sources of funding. Why would I help them get funding if they don't commit to spending it on things we want? How can I write my congressman saying "Caltrain should get more money" without specifics on what they would accomplish with that money.

Right now they say there aren't enough cars. Fine - let's get some. How much do you need? Let's write a proposal and go stand on the steps of the capitol. I guarantee Arnold knows zero about the current situation. He's very savvy about reacting to embarrassment. Note that last week there were articles stating he has cut funding, the head of Caltrans put a rebuttle in the Chron this week. I guarantee Arnold's staff had something to do with that. We need to show this crisis is on par with things like wildfires - I really believe that. We need more money for a transit system that is having growing pains and serves many thousands of people, people who built houses in Eureka Canyon are being subsidized for their views by state fire money.


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