Opportunity for better Caltrain/Samtrans schedule coordination

A recent San Mateo County grand jury report critiqued SamTrans because their 16 “Caltrain Connections” buses have no schedule coordination with Caltrain.

The report found opportunities for improvement in the near term and even more opportunities for improvement in a few years with Caltrain electric service. 

Caltrain and SamTrans are preparing their responses to the Grand Jury, and Caltrain’s draft letter is being reviewed by the Board’s Planning Committee on September 25 at 1pm (see report here) .

The response describes the processes that Caltrain and SamTrans are using to assess customer needs, as part of Caltrain’s regular rider survey, and the upcoming “Reimagine Samtrans” initiative to review and improve its service, with funding from Measure W to pay for improvements.

But the response doesn’t say that the agencies have goals for better bus-rail connections. This is unfortunate. Your blogger recently read an excellent book called “Transport for Suburbia” with robust evidence that mixed-density, multiple-centered regions like the Bay Area can have much higher transit ridership when they have well-coordinated transit systems, including bus connections to trains.

If you agree, send notes to Caltrain and Samtrans:

  • By Wednesday, 9/25 in time for the Caltrain Committee, or before the Thursday 10/3 full board meeting. Send email to board@caltrain.com.  

Points you may want to make include:

  • Please take Grand Jury report seriously and study opportunities to increase ridership by coordinating “Caltrain Connections” routes with Caltrain. Use personal stories showing you know there are people who would make use of the improved connections.

  • Thank the agencies for recently supporting the business case study for regional fare integration, which is another essential next step toward provide more customer-friendly, seamless transit service.

Some San Mateo County transit leaders have expressed skepticism about the value of providing well-coordinated transit service. It will be helpful to encourage SamTrans and Caltrain to take more steps to provide convenient transit service and equitable access to opportunity.