Caltrans and the Capitol Corridor Joint Powers Authority (CCJPA) have announced an increase in bicycle capacity on the nation’s third-busiest Amtrak line, which serves 16 stations spanning eight Northern California counties, after a survey of riders found that nearly nine percent, or 150,000, of its estimated 1.7 million annual rail passengers rides bicycles.
From the press release:
"Due to a dramatic increase in the use of bicycles on the Capitol Corridor trains, all 14 of the original 1995-era cab cars have been retrofitted to accommodate an additional four bicycles on the lower level," CCJPA Chair Jim Holmes said. "These new bike racks are in addition to the three bicycle racks that already exist on the cab cars. When we combine the retrofit cabs with the five newer, 2002-era cab cars, which utilize wall-mounted storage racks to accommodate 13 bicycles, it provides about 130 more racks each weekday to help accommodate the hundreds of cyclists who bring their bikes on board."
Once funding is secured and a retrofit is complete, Holmes said at least one cab car on each train should be able to accommodate up to 13 bicycles "plus an additional three on all coach cars." All in all, bicycle capacity will increase by 34 percent.
Capitol Corridor spokesperson Luna Salaver said she hasn’t heard of bicyclists getting bumped because of overcapacity, which happens all the time on Caltrain, but says agents usually work with them to find space.
"We have to think of our passengers who are mobility-impaired. There has to be room in the first level of the cab car for someone to negotiate in a wheelchair or some other mobile device," she said. "But we try to accommodate [bicyclists] even if it means the [bicycle] has to go in areas typically used for luggage."
Capitol Corridor, on its website, says it is "committed to helping achieve greater environmental sustainability for a
healthier planet. We believe in getting more cars off the highways and
more people onto the train." The latest passenger survey (PDF), conducted in June, found that 64 percent of riders get to stations by car, but 34 percent would consider riding a bicycle. The majority of riders live in Sacramento, Alameda, Placer, Yolo and Contra Costa counties.