Today, the Caltrain board approved a program to advertise offpeak travel. The ad campaign may include radio, print ads, social media and possibly television. It’s financially smart to market capacity that is available offpeak, and good to get people in the habit of using transit.
There may be opportunities to work with cities whose lively downtowns are crowded nights and weekends, putting pressure on car parking. Not everyone enjoying dinner in downtown Palo Alto, Redwood City, and San Mateo has easy access to the train or bus – but some do. Could marketing transit help postpone the need to build new parking structures?
Do you use transit for travel nights, afternoons and weekends, in addition to rush hour commutes?
There are related opportunities to encourage commute trips that are earlier or later than the peak of rush hour, to relieve crowding. Stanford professor Balaji Prabhakar had developed a program offering commuters incentives to travel outside of the most crowded times. Caltrain and MTC are looking into this, according to Caltrain staff in response to a question at the borad meeting.
To alleviate crowding and bike bumps, Caltrain could also adapt a practice from BART, and show in its schedules how crowded a given train is likely to be.