Thursday, April 07, 2011

Caltrain cuts - less is more?

Caltrain has a Proposed schedule that would slash a number of trains and raise fares and parking costs.
With my current job, caltrain doesn't come in the picture (I usually bike, though I have walked, and plan on one day starting to jog there - at least after I find a good place to shower.)

However, in my previous position, I took the train on a semi-regular basis. However, the schedule had something to be desired. During rush hour, there were three trains per hour. Unfortunately, they were all in the first 20 minutes of the hour. The "cutback" plan increases the trains to 4 per hour, with the longest gap being about 19 minutes. They do make a couple more stops, but all the trains skip at least one station, making the time to Palo Alto 15 minutes on each train.

Since I usually had child responsibilities, the AM "commute" trains were rarely an option anyway. However, with the new schedule, the 8:44 and 8:55 trains would be distinct possibilities - with both skipping a stop (and thus arriving faster.) Those are followed by a couple all-stop trains every half hour (which were my normal trains.) Those were moved ten minutes earlier - meaning with a bike I could get to work earlier. By the bus, however, they now leave a couple minutes before the bus arrives. D'oh!

PM trains also look good, with 4 trains per hour, fairly evenly spaced.

For bus service, there are AM rush hour trains that leave 9 minutes after the 54 bus arrives. This is a fairly reasonable gap to allow catching the train without fear, while not having an excessive wait. For PM trains, there is a train that arrives 7 minutes before each bus leaves. Again, great timing. (The off peak trains, alas are timed almost perfectly to miss the buses.)

Weekend trains also see a big improvement, with the shuttering of many of the train stations. The last time we took a weekend trains, it took forever, with the train stopping at stations like Atherton for perhaps one passenger. (Though the person I saw walking away was with a dog, so he may have just been crossing the tracks.) The shuttering of some of the weekend stations will make the trips much faster and more reasonable.

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