Caltrain Drops Bicycle Surcharge Idea and Is Bringing Back Tags

tags_pic.jpgCaltrain destination tags. Photo by Shirley Johnson.
Caltrain has dropped an idea to make bicyclists pay a $1 surcharge to help solve its budget deficit. In an email this afternoon, Mark Simon, the special assistant to the Caltrain CEO, wrote "a bicycle surcharge will not be part of the budget proposals for the coming fiscal year." He also updated efforts to create more bicycle capacity on the system:

We are done expanding the number of bike spaces on all our gallery bike cars – each gallery bike cars now have 40 bike slots each, up from 32 bike slots each.

We have completed the expansion of bike capacity on the first of our seven Bombardier bike cars.  That leaves six more Bombardier bike cars to be altered to accommodate additional bike racks, and we expect to complete that work by the end of July.  Converting the Bombardier cars is more complicated than anticipated and will take longer than originally expected.

When we are done, all current Bombardier bike cars will have 24 bike slots each, up from 16.

Simon added Caltrain is also looking at converting another Bombardier car into a bike car. Also, following months of complaints from bicyclists, Caltrain has decided to bring back its destination tags.

Our popular yellow destination tags – reusable, sturdy plastic – are coming back.  We eliminated them some time ago as one more cost-saving measure, and directed people to a downloadable tag on our Web site.

You can still use those downloadable tags, but we figured out a way to squeeze a little more money out of the budget to bring back this popular item.

We have ordered 10,000 of the new tags and it is our hope that will last us for a while. They should be available by mid- to late June.

Shirley Johnson, who heads the SFBC's Bikes ONBoard campaign, had lobbied to get the tags back, and the SFBC decided to help out, making temporary tags. She said they are an indispensable part of Caltrain’s on board bicycle service.

"We couldn’t just stand by and watch the situation deteriorate, so we stepped in to provide destination tags to cyclists."

Bicyclists have complained that even though Caltrain is expanding capacity, and doing more to accommodate bicyclists, it's not enough, as bicyclists continue to get bumped or denied boarding on a daily basis because there isn't enough capacity.