Caltrain board votes for rail car bids with options for more bikes, no bathrooms

This morning the Caltrain board voted to solicit bids for rail cars with options to include more space for bicycles than today, and with options for either zero or one bathroom.   The bathroom decision leaned against the comments of numerous riders saying at least one bathroom is essential for the young, the old, those with long trips, travel for entertainment, and train delays.    The bicycle decision leaned toward the demands of bicycle users for more bike space on board, but provided less space than bicycle advocacy organizations were asking for.

Parents with small children want bathrooms on Caltrain

Parents with small children want bathrooms on Caltrain

Do you think bathrooms on the electric trains are essential? Sign this petition and pass it along.

Neither the bathroom nor the bicycle configuration decision is final – the request for proposals will include options for zero or one bathrooms per trainset, and an 8:1 ratio of bikes to seats or less.  The board will make a final decision when the bids from rail car manufacturers are in.

Along with the recommended option for zero bathrooms, the board asked staff to estimate costs to install and maintain bathrooms at Caltrain stations.    Most stations don’t currently have any bathrooms, while some locations have station bathrooms that are not open to the public, such as Cafe Venetia in Palo Alto, open only to customers, that closed when the local cafe closed, like Java Attractions at Hillsdale, or that closed because the city does not want to maintain it (San Mateo downtown we think is in this category).

Even now, the BART board is struggling with proposals to re-open station bathrooms that were closed due to security concerns after September 11 2001 terrorist attacks.  The bathrooms have remained closed for nearly 15 years, and stations are plagued with corners, elevators and stairwells used as regularly as latrines.   Evidence suggests it will be very difficult to get cities and private vendors to provide and maintain bathroom facilities with the needed cleaning and security in the long run.

San Francisco board member Malia Cohen raised a concern that according to the Americans with Disabilities Act, it might somehow be more legally problematic to have one ADA bathroom on the train in the car serving wheelchair users, than to have no bathrooms on the train.

Board members also recommended that Caltrain staff do more research and provide a more robust recommendation to fund offboard bicycle facilities to meet the needs of an expected growing number of riders using bicycles for their first and last miles, while conserving space on the trains.

Without controversy, board also supported the staff recommendation to solicit bids for rail cars with and without the option for high 50″ doors in addition to 25″ doors, to enable platform compatibility with High Speed Rail in the future.  The RFP will also include options for more rail cars, to potentially accelerate providing longer trains with more overall passenger capacity.

Do you want to share a long train ride with these happy Giants fans, with no bathrooms on board?

Caltrain giants fans

If you think at least one bathroom per trainset is essential, sign this petition and pass it along.   If you’d like to collect petition signatures and spread the word, add a note in comments or send email to