Green Caltrain

BayRail Alliance Blog
Random Image

The Green Caltrain blog is sponsored by BayRail Alliance, an all-volunteer non-profit organization supporting green rail transit in the Bay Area. This blog and BayRail have no affiliation with Caltrain.

What can the Bay Area learn from European Rail station design

Last week in San Jose, and this week in San Francisco, Eric Eidlin of the Federal Transit Administration, which funds local connections to High Speed Rail, gave a talk with case studies of European rail station design.  Update: here is his blog post on the topic.

Multimodal station integration

First, physical service integration. Here is the Central City station in Erfurt, where the local light rail pulls up below the High Speed Rail tracks. The station, in a mid-sized city with about 200,000 residents, serves 34,000 passengers per day with 344 underground vehicle parking spaces.

Erfurt station

In contrast to the superbly-integrated Erfurt station, the station serving Aix en Provence, a city with about 140,000 people, is located 10 miles from the center of town, and serves 7000 passengers with 2860 parking spaces.

Aix Park'n'Ride

Integrated customer experience

High Speed trains in France are faster point to point than in Germany, and tend to use dedicated tracks. By contrast, trains in Germany often use blended tracks with local service, along the lines of the blended system between Caltrain and California High Speed Rail. While the German trains are slower point to point, the German system has much better connections – both physical connections, and integration of fares, schedules, ticketing, for an overall more seamless rider experience.

The app below lets you plan a trip, from origin all the way to destination, including a connecting bus, local rail, and high speed long distance rail. You don’t need to think about the fast that the components are provided by different agencies.

Integrated planning and ticketing

There is a service that integrates other first and last mile modes, such as carshare and bikeshare, into a rider membership program (I don’t think they are technically integrated yet, but imagine if they were?)

Mobility service integration

Station as destination

Some European stations do a superb job at creating stations that are shopping and entertainment destinations. The photos below show stations in Leipzig and Paris St Lazare which are popular shopping malls.

Downtown Leipzig station

Paris St Lazare Station and Shopping Mall

Faster in France, more connected in Germany

Lessons for the Bay Area

The Bay Area’s major multi-modal stations – Transbay, Millbrae, and Diridon – where local services connect, and also feed High Speed Rail have opportunities to learn from best practices in Europe to provide better pedestrian connections between modes, and to consider a high-traffic station as a potential shopping and entertainment destination. The most immediate application of these lessons are in Millbrae, which is considering a major mixed-use transit-oriented development for approval this year, and San Jose, which is reviewing the Diridon Station Area Plan this year. While the major transit new construction in Diridon is years off (BART, High Speed Rail), the zoning and policy decisions (like parking) will have a big impact on how successfully Diridon can transition into an urban destination.

The lesson about service integration is profound. In an ideal world, which may not be this one, our region would rally, and make use of the Clipper transition to demand actual integration of fares, schedules, and data, to enable the sort of rider experience provided by that app in Germany.

High Speed Rail super-express from San Francisco to San Jose?

The 2014 Draft Business Plan for High Speed Rail includes some early hints about how Caltrain and High Speed Rail service might interact. Clem Tillier’s Caltrain/High Speed Rail Compatibility blog has a writeup and analysis.

The new business plan envisions High Speed Rail service delivering 4 trains per hour serving Peninsula stops within the corridor between San Francisco and Gilroy in 2040. The SF-SJ “super-express” would take 47 to 49 minutes, an 8-10 minute savings over today’s 57 minute Caltrain baby bullet. HSR projects that peninsula stops would generate 2.5 million riders per year. At $22 from SF to SJ, the peninsula stops would produce $51 million / year in revenue. This would be less than 1% out of an projected $5.7 billion HSR revenue base, but a much higher share of Caltrain’s operating revenues, which were $75 million in 2013. If Caltrain doubles ridership, that would be 30% of the local market.

High Speed Rail Peninsula Express Service

If San Jose’s strategy to turn the Diridon Station Area into an employment center and destination that is tightly linked to downtown, a reasonably affordable San Francisco-San Jose super-express might be welcomed by riders. But a High Speed Rail operator taking 30% of local revenues would have unwelcome consequences for Peninsula corridor service.

Tillier argues that the scenario in the business plan is unlikely to happen, because a High Speed Rail operator would likely jack up fares for local trips so that they did not take seats from more profitable long-distance riders. He gives the example of the Amtrak Northeast Corridor, where “a seat on Amtrak’s high-speed Acela Express typically costs well over $100 one way vs. $14.50 on Metro North commuter rail.”

There are other motivations at play. The High Speed Rail authority has a mandate to not require an operating subsidy, and Caltrain, like other commuter rail and rapid transit services in the US (and roads and highways) requires public operating funds. So a HSR operator might have an incentive to skim the profitable parts of a local market. On the other hand, the Bay Area revenues would be a drop in the bucket of the High Speed operator’s revenues. As Tillier’s analysis suggests, an HSR operator would have more to gain by encouraging long-distance over local trips.

Meanwhile, the Bay Area has a regional goal to reduce greenhouse gas emissions; and Peninsula cities are increasingly taking responsibility for reducing vehicle trips. And Caltrain owns the rails. So there would be a local and regional incentive to negotiate a deal that delivered better regional transit mode share.

Also, in an ideal world, Caltrain would be a seamless feeder service for long distance trips. A rider could buy a single ticket, get on at San Mateo or Redwood City or Palo Alto, transfer in San Jose and head on to Los Angeles. There will be some business arrangement regarding the value of the feeder service.

In follow up to the recent forum in San Francisco about options for Caltrain governance in the age of electrification, international rail consultant and HSR peer review board chair Lou Thompson commented that it might be beneficial to have the private operator for High Speed Rail service to bid for the Caltrain contract. If there was a single operator, how would this impact the balance between long distance and regional benefit?

It is early – the first High Speed Trains are not expected to get past San Jose to San Francisco til 2029 at the earliest. This is an early view of an important discussion and debate. What do you think about how best to balance local and long-distance service?

Caltrain declines Palo Alto request for downtown GoPass

As Palo Alto gets started with its transportation demand management programs, with a proposal to launch major initiatives scheduled for City Council review on Monday night, they are taking a classic and straightforward standalone first step – offering the Caltrain GoPass to City employees who turn in their parking pass. Palo Alto’s request to Caltrain was actually much more ambitious, seeking GoPasses for the downtown area – but Caltrain turned them down. Hopefully Palo Alto and other area cities developing Transportation Management Associations will persist in encouraging Caltrain to adapt the GoPass program to this new and promising type of customer demand.

The GoPass proposal is part of a plan set in motion nearly a year ago. The existing GoPass program has the potential to be very beneficial for the City of Palo Alto as an employer, as the staff report explains. The GoPass offers a strikingly low rate of $165 per employee per year – as long as the employer buys GoPasses for 100% of employees, and pays a minimum of $13,750 per year. The employee can then use the GoPass for unlimited travel on Caltrain, including nights and weekends, Giants and Sharks games, dinner and a movie in downtown San Mateo, etc. By contrast, a 3-zone monthly pass (not annual) is $179. The initial counterintuitive factor with this program is that most employers don’t have 100% of their employees living near the Caltrain corridor. A GoPass is not very useful for an employee who lives in Fremont. But a common experience among organizational GoPass customers is that enough employees have access to Caltrain, and the subsidized transit access is enough to greatly increase usage, resulting in a higher share of transit use and a lower share of driving to work than without the program.

Stanford University, which offers the GoPass to its employees, has a 24% Caltrain mode share, and SurveyMonkey has a 50% Caltrain mode share, and SRI in nearby Menlo Park has a 15% Caltrain mode share.

Reducing city employee driving is particularly helpful in Palo Alto, which faces a parking crunch. Building new parking spaces will cost the city $50,000 to $60,000 each, so if a few more Palo Alto employees decide not to take a parking pass, the program is a big financial benefit to the city, not even considering the traffic reduction.

But Palo Alto didn’t just apply to participate in Caltrain’s standard GoPass program, they made another, more innovative request. On Monday night, Palo Alto City Council will review a major proposal to create a “Transportation Management Association” which will manage transportation programs such as shuttles, carshare, rideshare, and other transportation benefits for people who live and/or work in Palo Alto. Palo Alto staff asked Caltrain whether they would provide a GoPass for the downtown area.

Caltrain turned the request down, according to the city staff report. Caltrain gave two reasons. The first is that Caltrain has been experiencing a capacity crunch, and Palo Alto is one of the places where space is particularly tight. The other objection was a “concern of providing equitable programs with active participating companies.”

Some good news on the capacity issue – since Caltrain first turned Palo Alto down, Caltrain is putting in an offer to buy surplus rail cars from Metrolink, a measure that promises to add 20% more capacity. Hopefully that would create enough space for some additional Palo Alto riders.

As for the issue of providing “equitable programs”, there might be logical ways to address that concern as well. The requirement to buy the GoPass based on 100% of the employee base helps give Caltrain solid revenue for the program. If the proposed downtown program allowed employers to “cherrypick”, that would be unfair to existing customers who use the GoPass with the 100% rule. One possible way around this issue would be to have Palo Alto employers participating in the Transportation Management Association decide whether the company would participate as a whole. Today, the GoPass is not cost-effective for small companies because of the minimum $13,500 price. But if the Palo Alto TMA could bundle a set of 5, 10, and 20 employee companies into a group with with a few hundred employees, each company could participate 100%, the pool would be large enough to make the GoPass program cost-effective, and incent higher overall transit ridership, and it would not be unfair to existing customers who need to purchase for 100% of employees. The Palo Alto TMA would be saving Caltrain administrative costs by handling the set of participants as a pool, and marketing the program to Palo Alto employers. This is one logical option, may well be other ways to provide a GoPass program for a TMA, in a way that would be fair for existing customers.

The big picture here is that Palo Alto is one of multiple cities on the Caltrain corridor that are starting to set up Transportation Management Associations with the goal of reducing vehicle trips (other cities include San Mateo, Menlo Park, Mountain View, and likely San Jose). The TMAs pool funds, and are intended to provide more robust transportation benefits than the individual participating employers or developments. In our region, many have become familiar with the robust transportation programs by large employers, which enable them to greatly reduce driving, traffic congestion, and parking costs. TMAs are intended to provide a similar set of benefits to a larger set of participants, beyond the region’s few top employers.

The TMAs have the potential to be a major source of new customers for Caltrain. As it works to alleviate the immediate capacity crunch, and plans for increasing capacity through electrification and complementary measures such as longer trains, Caltrain would benefit by welcoming the new source of ridership, and working to create programs that work for the agency and the institutional customers. If over time Caltrain needs help with measures to improve capacity, such as longer platforms for longer trainsets, it could also partner with the cities that depend on the added capacity.

Hopefully Palo Alto and other cities with TMA will keep asking, and Caltrain will come around to work with them to deliver solutions that help make transit a larger share of our region’s travel.

Governing Caltrain in the age of electrification – expert perspective

Last week Tuesday at SPUR HQ in San Francisco, at an event co-sponsored by Friends of Caltrain, a set of international and regional experts discussed different scenarios for the governance of Caltrain in the age of electrification.

Electrifying Caltrain promises to create even stronger financial performance, with higher ridership and relatively lower operating costs, and the potential for more coordinated service. Meanwhile, there are risks. The Downtown Extension to the Transbay Terminal, which could greatly increase San Francisco ridership, is not nearly fully funded. Caltrain electrification gets half of its funding through the High Speed Rail project, which is facing legal risks.

To take advantage of the opportunities and reduce the risks, transit riders and people with responsibility for the transit system often suggest making changes in how Caltrain is governed.  Caltrain is going through a strategic planning process to set the stage for the coming decade, so it seemed like a good time to have expert education on what these governance options might do.

Ratna Amin, Transportation Policy Director at SPUR, put the governance questions into a regional perspective.

The region is planning for major population and job growth. Building more roads and freeways won’t solve traffic congestion, and auto-dominated transportation system is a major contributor to climate emissions.

Bay Area Regional Growth    


One of the big barriers to expanded transit use is a fragmented system. The fragmentation extends beyond the factors that riders can see: capital planning, funding, land use planning and other administrative responsibilities are hampered by the system’s fragmentation.

Screen Shot 2014-02-19 at 1.55.29 PM


Other panelists with international and regional expertise spoke about various governance options. Please note that the speakers on the panel were not advocating specific policy changes.  They were describing various options to help riders and decision-makers understand what the options may be.

Public Private Partnerships

Lou Thompson, who chairs the High Speed Rail peer review group, and whose consulting firm provides advice to governments and agencies around the globe, gave a whirlwind tutorial on the options for Public Private Partnerships.

Recently, the Transbay authority proposed to creating a Public Private Partnership to help build and operate the Downtown Extension to Transbay Terminal.   According to the proposal, the private operator would charge Caltrain and High Speed Rail riders a toll of $1 to $2, and use the funding to operate the tunnel.  At the board meeting when this idea was discussed, Caltrain’s Marian Lee raised the logical question – why stop there? Why not have a public Private Partnership to run Caltrain? Or the same entity for High Speed Rail as well?

Thompson started his presentation with some comparative analysis showing that Caltrain is doing quite well compared with peer services. Its operating costs are low by comparison to peers, its ratio of expenses to revenues is well above average, but its revenue per passenger mile is only in the middle of the pack. By this set of comparisons, Thompson suggested, Caltrain may be under-charging its rider base, which is largely prosperous and has the ability to pay more.

Screen Shot 2014-02-19 at 2.41.27 PM

Screen Shot 2014-02-19 at 2.43.07 PM

Screen Shot 2014-02-19 at 2.43.54 PM

It’s complicated

When considering governance options, the first lesson from Thompson’s presentation is that it’s complicated.  There are numerous governance structures used by transit services around the world; including public infrastructure and private operators, as in the EU and Australia, public infrastructure and management with contracted operations (as Caltrain is run today), and entirely public infrastructure, management and operations (as BART is run today).

Rail Structures

Within the category of private operators, there are different structures:

  • gross cost contracts, as used with urban franchises in the UK, where the public entity transfers the cost risk, allowing the company to pocket the difference if they are able to cut costs, but the public entity retains the revenue risk, paying more subsidy if revenue is lower than expected
  • net cost franchises, as with longer passenger rail lines in the UK and some rail services in Brazil, where the government contracts with private agency that carries the responsibility to manage costs and increase revenue
  • fully private systems, as with High Speed Rail systems in Taiwan and Japan.

One of the key points in Thompson’s presentation is that it is critically important to determine the appropriate balance of public and private benefits and costs.   This is very different from the stereotype of “privatization”, where a service is provided by a private corporation with the primary goal of maximizing its own profit.  Instead, most public private partnerships around the world are designed to provide some level of public benefit, based on public entity’s goals for the system.   The public entity could decide it wants more ridership to reduce congestion and pollution, and is willing to pay a subsidy to achieve the goal. There is no one right answer about how to balance the public and private benefits. It depends on goals.

Another important consideration is risk. The use of a public private partnership transfers cost and risk between public and private entities.   Thompson wrote the summary analysis of a fascinating in-depth report published in 2007 containing case studies of public private partnerships used for rail systems around the globe. In situations where the public agencies did not do a good job of managing risk, they were taken to the cleaners (the words of this blogger) by private entities that underbid on the contract, took extra risks in search of profit, went bankrupt, and left the public agency and taxpayers to foot the bill.

For the purposes of discussion (remember, none of the presentations was proposing a recommendation), Thompson proposed a potential solution where the tracks for the Downtown Extension would be leased to Caltrain (not based on use), Caltrain would own/lease and maintain all of the infrastructure on the corridor, and charge the High Speed Rail Authority access fees to use the system, with a joint dispatching center to manage dispatching the trains. Before High Speed Rail, there isn’t a major reason to change Caltrain’s current structure, a public agency with a management contract for operations. Once High Speed Rail arrives, which will have a franchise operator, that operator would be allowed to compete for the Caltrain franchise or contract.

Thompson’s scenario included other goals and outcomes: a state/local funded program to fully grade-separate the Caltrain corridor before the start of High Speed Rail service, a short haul operator for freight service using electrified trains operating only at night; and an oversight agency to coordinate fares and schedules.

So, are there other places in the world where longdistance high speed rail services also run local commute service (we asked Thompson after, because we ran out of time for question at the forum)? SNCF runs some local commuter services under contract to local authorities in France, as do DB in Germany and SJ in Sweden. In the US, Amtrak also contracts to operate local commuter services — they operate the San Joaquins and the Capitols in California. However, Amtrak has also had problems winning competitions with private operators as happened when Amtrak lost the Caltrain contract.

There are challenges either way, says Thompson. If there were two operators on the line, Caltrain might favor local service over HSR access rights. In other places in the world where an HSR operator runs local service, the cost for the national operator can run high.

Based on Thompson’s presentation, public private partnerships are much more complicated and challenging than bringing in a private operator to provide better and more cost-effective services.   A critical success factor is the public agencies ability to set goals and manage risk.

The event could have spent the entire time on Thompson’s presentation. There may be a more in-depth follow-up event focusing on these options.

Integration or merger with BART?

Jessica Zenk, Senior Director for Transportation Policy at Silicon Valley Leadership Group, which works on initiatives to get stable funding for Caltrain, and has been the lead in advocating for bringing BART to Silicon Valley, talked about the benefits of coordinating Caltrain and BART.   The two systems intersect today at Millbrae.  There will be more connections when BART reaches San Jose, and when the Downtown Extension connects Caltrain to the Transbay Terminal, a short walking connection to Montgomery BART.   Zenk said that there should at least be better integration in fares and schedules, and it could conceivably make sense to have the two closely related backbone rail transit services be run by a single operator.

Bear in mind that Zenk was *not* talking about removing Caltrain tracks and replacing them with BART tracks and stations. Instead she was talking about better coordination between the current and planned trains.  It would cost tens of billions to replace the existing Caltrain system – much more than the cost to electrify and fully grade separate Caltrain.

Some of the points raised by Ratna Amin’s introduction apply to the consideration of a BART/Catrain merger. If the agencies were to be merged, which labor contract would apply?  BART has an elected board, while Caltrain’s board members are appointed – what model should be used? As is well known in the private sector,  mergers that sound ideal on PowerPoint involve many challenging details to implement successfully.

Perhaps the major changes entailed in public private partnership or merger are overkill, solutions looking for problems?  Yoriko Kishimoto, former VTA board member and former Mayor of Palo Alto, proposed a more focused set of changes.   Kishimoto reinforced what Lou Thompson’s presentation highlighted – Caltrain is doing fairly well on an operating basis, the problem is lack of stable funding.

A critical needed change is a longer budget cycle. Caltrain currently plans its operating and capital budget on an annual basis with voluntary contributions from three counties: Santa Clara, San Mateo, and San Francisco.  Any year, any member can choose not to pay its share. In this case, each agency would then reduce contribution proportionately and the region needs to scramble to avoid drastic service cuts.  A three to five year budget cycle would enable the partners to ward off surprises.

Even better, said Kishimoto would be stable, dedicated funding. One of the challenges in gaining dedicated funding for Caltrain is that Caltrain serves 3 counties, including places that gain minimal benefit from its service.  In Santa Clara County, Caltrain serves only a small slice of the region, and it is difficult to get supermajority approval in an area where many voters are far from the closest station.   Kishimoto currently serves on the board of the MidPeninsula Regional OpenSpace District, which has tax revenues contributed from a district with boundaries drawn for this purpose.    A similar special district could be crafted for Caltrain, allowing voters in places that benefit from Caltrain to support it.

But if Caltrain had stable funding, this would not help to solve the problems with regional coordination – a more financially independent agency might even have less incentives to coordinate.

Regional Coordination on the European model

Transportation consultant Michelle DiRobertis had done research on the institutional structure used in Stuttgart Germany, Zurich Switzerland, and other places in the European Union and elsewhere around the world. The Stuttgart region has 45 different transit operators in a metropolitan area with 179 municipalities and 2.4 million people.  Since 1979, they  have created a coordinating agency that is responsible for the coordination of fares, schedules, and planning. It has a governing board with half of its members from political jurisdictions and 50% of its members from the transit operators.

Screen Shot 2014-02-19 at 2.26.28 PM

There was a lot of interest in the audience for more discussion about this model – watch for an upcoming event on this topic.   One big question for the Bay Area. If we wanted such a function,  how could we get there from where we are today?  Could the efforts to upgrade the system help us work toward regional integration?

The critical importance of goals

When asked about how Caltrain might include these governance considerations in its strategic planning process, Public and Community Affairs Director Seamus Murphy answered that the place to consider these things is in the section on the fundamental goals for the Caltrain service.

This answer resonated with some high level stakeholders in the audience.

BART director Robert Raburn spoke about the importance of the goal of emissions reduction.  BART has 50% of the share of traffic going across the Bay Bridge, but rail transit has a much smaller percentage of the traffic going north/south on either side of the bridge.  With climate change, we must not accept the status quo where driving is mainstream and transit is marginal.

Gillian Gillett, the San Francisco Mayor’s transportation policy lead wants to see land use taken into account as a major goal.  Transit is most effective when there are plenty of people who live and work close to transit.   One of the major problems in serving our area cost-effectively with transit is sprawl – a spread out land use pattern where driving is the most practical option for many people.  San Francisco is using “value capture” – the added value of real estate –  to help fund the Transbay project. This funding and strategic approach could conceivably be used to help with other major capital expenses and station area plans, such as San Jose Diridon.

The presentations by Ratna Amin of SPUR and Jessica Zenk of SVLG had raised the goals of better integration – but a mid-level transit planner in the audience from another transit agency in the region raised potentially contradictory goal. If transit agencies were forced to coordinate schedules and fares, some agencies might get less farebox revenue – and they have a goal to run their agency in a fiscally prudent manner.

This is the rationale that results in today’s uncoordinated system – and it has merit from the perspective of each transit agency.    So how could the goal of agency budget prudence be met, while still meeting the goal of regional coordination? Could a regional coordinating entity provide transfer payments to help agencies that lost out due to more transfers?  Or are mergers necessary so that the financial budget reflects the bigger picture?

The moderator (your blogger) connected the goals of ridership and equity, which contrast with the goal of maximizing revenue for the service.     To get the most cars of the road, capture the greatest corridor mode share, and reduce the most carbon emissions,  it would be at cross-purposes to raise fares to maximize revenue.    With goals of ridership and equity (your blogger now adds)  does it make sense for the public bus system to be used as a parallel but lower quality, lower-cost service for those who cannot afford the train?  Would it provide more social benefit and more environmental benefit by enabling widespread access to train service, and utilize buses for types of service where the technology provides an advantage – connections, non-rail corridors, and lifeline service.

When people talk about the future of Caltrain and Bay Area Transit, they sometimes look to governance changes as “magic bullets” that will eliminate problems.  But the takeaway from last week’s talk is that there is no magic bullet.  Decision-makers and stakeholders need to be clear about their goals and priorities.   Also, when considering less-familiar options like public private partnerships and a regional coordinating agency, it helps to get up to speed on the benefits, drawbacks, and considerations required to make these work.

One member of the audience asked whether it would be possible for the region to make big changes only when faced with a major crisis.  The challenge is that in an emergency, it’s hard to quickly learn about how to handle the operational questions about public private partnerships or coordinating agencies, and think through how to prioritize competing goals.  Better to learn about the options before having to make the decision.

MTC starts work on Clipper 2.0 – will it fulfill promise of integrated regional fares?

At the February Caltrain board meeting, marketing lead Rita Haskin gave a presentation about a regional project that has the potential to improve fare coordination in the Bay Area.  The regional contract for the Clipper electronic payment system expires in 2019, and the Metropolitan Transportation Commission, which manages the Clipper system is starting a process to gather requirements for the next-generation system.  This could be an opportunity for the next generation of Clipper to be closer to the vision of integrated fares and transfers for the region - if the region’s transit riders speak up for better integration.

The requirements for the next-generation system are expected to be gathered this year, creating a “request for proposals” from vendors, with a decision to be made by the end of 2016, and the new system to be implemented before the new system goes live in 2019.  According to the timeline, that’s just 9-10 months from now to define the new system.

Clipper 2.0 timeline

While the vision for the Clipper system is to provide “seamless transit travel in the San Francisco Bay Area”, the reality falls short of this vision.   Clipper does provide a single payment card for the major Bay Area transit services. But in its initial implementation, it does very little to provide integrated fares – instead, each service has its own fare structure. Transfers, where they exist, are worked out directly between each pair of transit agencies.

Also, Clipper provides no help in integrating schedules across transit services. While the Clipper system gathers vast amounts of data regarding transit use across transit agencies, which could potentially be useful in planning tighter transfers by identifying connections with high current and potential ridership, MTC does not allow the data to be analyzed for the purpose of improving transfers. Each transit agency gets access only to its own data, not to data about the same rider once the rider makes a transfer. For example, Caltrain and VTA would both benefit from data about when riders transfer between Caltrain and VTA light rail in Mountain View.

According to Haskin, Caltrain and SamTrans are looking at a narrower range of issues to improve with the next-generation system, to address some of the frustrations that Caltrain users have with Clipper.   Caltrain would like to provide more venues for getting and loading a card, more flexibility to be able to test and add new features, and a more cost-effective system.  The reason that SamTrans did not institute a Clipper-based transfer when they ended the (poorly-designed) paper-based BART transfer program was because it costs too much to add bi-directional transfer features using Clipper.

The fundamental lack of integration in fares and transfers affect all Bay Area transit users, not only Caltrain.  Not only that, there are some basic equity issues that affect Bay Area transit.  Train riders (BART and Caltrain) with monthly passes get transfer credit when they use a connecting bus, but users with bus passes don’t get any credit when they transfer to the train. This fare design hurts lower-income riders, in cost and travel time.

It will be important for riders to make our voices heard.  Would you be interested in seeing Clipper 2.0 provide much more robust regional fare and schedule integration?




  • Subscribe to our RSS

    Total Posts 269
    Total Comments 678.

  • Interactive Caltrain schedule

  • Calendar of events

    • May 1, 2014

      Caltrain JPB meeting

      Starts: 10:00 am

      Location: Location: 2nd Floor Auditorium San Mateo County Transit District 1250 San Carlos Avenue, San Carlos

    • May 7, 2014

      SamTrans Board meeting

      Starts: 2:00 pm

      Location: 1250 San Carlos Ave., San Carlos, CA

    • May 8, 2014

      TJPA Board Meeting

      Starts: 9:30 am

      Location: City Hall, Room 416, 1 Dr. Carlton B. Goodlett Place, San Francisco, CA 94102

    • May 13, 2014

      TJPA CAC Meeting

      Starts: 5:30 pm

      Location: 201 Mission Street, Suite 2100 San Francisco, CA

    • May 15, 2014

      Caltrain BAC meeting

      Starts: 6:30 pm

      Location: 1250 San Carlos Avenue, San Carlos, CA

      Description: Bicycle Advisory Committee

    • May 21, 2014

      Caltrain CAC meeting

      Starts: 5:30 pm

      Location: Location: 2nd Floor Auditorium San Mateo County Transit District 1250 San Carlos Avenue, San Carlos

    • June 4, 2014

      SamTrans Board meeting

      Starts: 2:00 pm

      Location: 1250 San Carlos Ave., San Carlos, CA

    • June 5, 2014

      Caltrain JPB meeting

      Starts: 10:00 am

      Location: Location: 2nd Floor Auditorium San Mateo County Transit District 1250 San Carlos Avenue, San Carlos

    • June 10, 2014

      TJPA CAC Meeting

      Starts: 5:30 pm

      Location: 201 Mission Street, Suite 2100 San Francisco, CA

    • June 12, 2014

      TJPA Board Meeting

      Starts: 9:30 am

      Location: City Hall, Room 416, 1 Dr. Carlton B. Goodlett Place, San Francisco, CA 94102