At Wednesday’s Caltrain Citizens Advisory Committee meeting, Caltrain staff presented a plan to make no schedule improvements for the next five years other than adjusting to take into accountÂ slower travel times, keeping up with the reality that crowded trains are slower to board.
Staff explained that electrification construction between 2016 and 2020 would require all of the offpeak time. Other construction projects including bridge replacements and station improvements will require single tracking and will preclude conversion of trains to baby bullets. Budget considerations would also preclude any additional trains to address changes in demand. Â Electrification construction is likely to require weekend intervals between trainsÂ to be increased to 90 minutes. Â Â Also, the schedule updates to adjust to the reality of slower travel times are being timed for February, and with that time frame there is no time to analyze any other schedule changes.
CAC members were skeptical that it would be impossible to make any schedule improvements for customers whatsoever over the next five years. Members (including this blogger) reported customer requests for schedule improvements including “shoulder peak” baby bullets that could help decongest peak hour trains, additional weekend baby bullets, and aÂ later last train from San Jose to keep up with livelier entertainment demand.
Faced with uniform concern about the prospect of no schedule improvements to address changed customer needs for the next five years, Caltrain operations manager April Maguigad said that she would bring the feedback back to management for consideration. The Citizens Advisory Committee will have another agenda item for follow-up discussion, as soon as next month.
A recent re-organization of Caltrain’s marketing, customer service, and communications functions by new General Manager Jim Hartnett, coordinating these functions under Seamus Murphy, is intended to make the agency more responsive to customer needs, according to Murphy at last week’s public meeting discussing proposed fare hikes in Mountain View.
Hopefully the renewed customer focus will allow for consideration of improvements addressing customer needs.