Corinne, Mark Eliot, and I met with members of Caltrain staff on December 19 and discussed Bikes on Caltrain and specifically the seven priority ideas that the workgroup had come up with at that time, to start a dialogue about feasible near-term improvements to the capacity issue.
The seven items were:
1. Removing seats from the bike car.
2. Real-time Notification
(a) # cars per train & type of car
(b) ongoing updates on current configuration & usage
* potential usage of volunteers to update
* use existing systems (e.g. Twitter)
- Prioritize Boarding
Allowing bikes to board first or simultanous ped and bike boarding, to speed up boarding and reduce dwell time.
* Potentially redirect peds to other cars/one side of car to speed up boarding.
* Better signage requesting peds to seat themselves outside the bike car.
* Improved education of peds and bikes for boarding & for bikes on the stacking system.
* Improved bike tag availability
- Allow the number of bikes per rack or crib that will fit regardless of number, provided the minimum aisle space is maintained.
* 4 Bikes allowed, with more if they can fit
* Safety always maintained
Taking needed bike capacity into account in creating consists.
Allow standing bike passengers for one stop.
- People already stand to deboard, so this is just the same as that.
- Statistics and monitoring (and reporting or transparency) of cyclist activity overall.
- Caltrain learns and communicates concrete numbers on cyclists.
Daily peak, daily average, train run peak and average, information about folding bikes, bike board time, etc.
The meeting was a great chance to sit down with staff and get a basic idea of where they are and to give them an idea of what we hope they can do. I was very encouraged to hear that they are already considering our item #1, removing seats, and item #3 may also be feasible, depending on where the bike car is located.
They suggested an interesting twist which we had not considered: one of the big issues aside from capacity is predictability (which we thought of addressing through our item #2), which could also be addressed by making the trains and bike cars more similar to each other in capacity so that instead of varying from 16 to 64, capacity was kept in a smaller range (say 32-48, with the occasional 64 perhaps). This seemed like an idea with a lot of potential and I would be interested in feedback on this that we can take back to Caltrain staff.
Other ideas we are still discussing. We hope to communicate more particularly about item #2, 4, and 6 in the future.
Let us know your thoughts, and particularly also please leave comments for Mr. Simon directly on the posts he has created: Bikes on Caltrain and Bikes on Caltrain II. They'd really like to hear more about our needs for the Peninsula and South Bay since so far they have gotten a lot more feedback about San Francisco.