Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Caltrain's ugly choices

Caltrain has scheduled three public meetings on possible service cuts and fare hikes:

  • -Increase one way fares by 25 cents base and/or per zone (the last time they raised fares was in January). Other fares will go up by the same proportion
  • -Increase Go Pass fees significantly (now is same as a two zone monthly pass. Caltrain proposes to be the same as a three zone pass).
  • -Increase parking fees
  • -Cut weekend service
  • -Cut midday service to hourly
  • -Cut Gilroy service

The meetings will take place at 6 p.m., Wednesday, May 27 at the following locations:

  • -San Francisco: 25 Van Ness Avenue, Lower Level Conference Room
  • -San Carlos: Caltrain Headquarters, Auditorium, 1250 San Carlos Ave.
  • -San Jose: VTA Administrative Offices, Auditorium. 3331 North First Street
Cutting weekend service is the worst because there's no equivalent transit service for most cities. The prospect of having to travel on local buses like the 22 and the 390 is a very ugly one. For most people, weekend service is the way how they're introduced to Caltrain.

The Gilroy service, on the other hand, does have equivalent service through the Monterey-Salinas Transit's 55 and VTA's line 168. While it is not clear of what the current ridership trend is for the Gilroy train service, the ridership has been drastically reduced from the peak in 2000 with the first dot-com bust and the 101 freeway widening.


arcady said...

I'd personally vote for parking fee increase, followed by fare increase, followed by cutting midday service. Those trains are half empty anyway (who's going to ride when most people are at work?). With weekend service there's nothing you can really cut without seriously hurting the service and losing a train's worth of riders.

accountablevta said...

Another option to cut cost on weekend service is to reduce stops.

bikerider said...

The obvious answer is to cut staff. There is no reason for having two conductors per train. One is more than enough (note that more advanced countries have virtually zero conductors per commuter train).

BTW, any solution that involves having trains sit idle at the yard is extremely counterproductive. You don't want your depreciating assets sitting around in the yard.

arcady said...

Cutting staff brings up all kinds of union issues, but maybe the fiscal emergency can help take care of that. I agree, there's almost certainly no need for two conductors, as Metrolink manages just fine with one. I also wonder if it would make sense to reduce train lengths for off peak services. It would save fuel, and allow faster schedules, but at the cost of some extra labor to split and join the trains.