Caltrain to redo grade crossing traffic estimates and get review in the context of schedule options

According to Caltrain’s Government and Community Affairs director Seamus Murphy, Caltrain plans to re-do its model of the traffic and gate downtime impact of electification. The new findings will be released and discussed in the context of proposed schedule options in the context of Caltrain’s draft Environmental Impact Report, which is expected out late in 2013 or early 2014.

The traffic impact and schedule options are closely related. Caltrain electrification will provide the possibility of improving service frequency, particularly at some of the stations that don’t get baby bullet service. But adding more stops will also affect traffic and gate downtime.

Combining the discussion of traffic, gate downtime, and schedule options seems like a very healthy and constructive way of addressing the issues. Before this change, Caltrain was planning to present traffic and gate downtime impact information, without corresponding information about the benefits of an improved schedule.

Now, communities will be able to discuss and debate the benefits and drawbacks of increased service. If there are places where the increased service would affect downtime to the point that it would increase the urgency of grade separation, communities will be able to debate and weigh the benefit of better service, with the cost and disruption of grade separation.

People eager to see the results of the traffic study will be disappointed, but presenting the traffic and gate downtime in the context of schedule options will set Caltrain and the cities on the corridor up for the most constructive conversation about the benefit and cost tradeoffs of better service.