Thursday: Caltrain board workshop considers electric service goals

On Thursday, October 4, the Caltrain board is holding a workshop discussing critical issues regarding the service pattern and investments for Caltrain in the coming decades.

Caltrain’s modeling shows that providing BART-like service frequencies has the potential to yield BART-like ridership – on the order of 250K riders by 2040.  How much of this pent-up demand can move to rail transit will be driven by decisions about service and infrastructure.

bart-like riderhip

The discussion was kicked off at last week’s Local Policymaker working group, where city council members from corridor cities strongly expressed their interest in improved electric service.

Committee member comments (livetweeted here) included:

* “It’s very clear that service drives ridership” – supporting the substantial increase in ridership that could be gained by service improvements

* supporting service to support everyday travel needs, not just peak commuters, to serve additional sorts of trips and passengers, including  people who work at restaurants and other jobs schedules other than 9-5, people who dine out for lunch or dinner, families with childcare trips, etc.
* the value of increased service to stations that have been seeing transit-oriented development but currently get low levels of service, such as San Antonio in Mountain View and Lawrence in Sunnyvale/Santa Clara
* the notable number of people who live in South San Jose and drive all the way to Diridon because the South SJ stations get little service.
* the value of supporting future transit-oriented development that cities are planning
* the potential for substantial climate/pollution benefits and congestion relief by carrying many more passengers
* the value of understanding infrastructure requirements, such as passing tracks and grade separations, to build support for these investments and funding

The board has important decisions to make in the coming year, including:

  • Frequency of service, and what places will get frequent service.
  • All-day service. Should Caltrain provide more support for more kinds of trips at more times of the day, helping people live and get around with fewer cars, and helping cities use our valuable land to prioritize housing for people over housing for cars?
  • Market share. Given the governor’s directive to be climate-neutral by 2045, do we want transit to increase market share compared to driving?
  • Infrastructure needs for service improvements – what investments will be needed.

Close attention from riders, community leaders, city leaders, employers, TMAs, and others will be important to set the stage for potentially major transportation improvements in the coming decade.

If you can’t attend tomorrow’s workshop, Caltrain is taking feedback on its business plan here:

Caltrain’s data, including the potential for dramatic ridership increases, is here.