Today’s Headlines

  • SF DPW Releases Prop B Street Repaving Plan (Curbed)
  • 8 Washington Approval Upheld by Supes, Headed to 2013 Ballot (SF Exam, SFGate)
  • Supervisor Cohen Urges Expansion of Car Share to Outer Neighborhoods (SFGate)
  • SFMTA Board Approves More Taxis on the Streets (SFGate, SF Exam)
  • Photos: SPUR Takes San Jose’s New Bike Lanes for a Spin
  • Congestion on Bay Area Transit, Freeways Rises With Job Growth (Mercury)
  • Motorcyclist Critically Injured in Head-On Collision on Castro Street (CBS)
  • Caltrain Commuters Annoyed by Giants Fans (SFGate)
  • Why Does Bike Theft Persist? Because There’s No Enforcement (Streetsblog NYC)

More headlines at Streetsblog Capitol Hill

  • mikesonn

    Looks to me like Grant through Chinatown will be repaved. If so, this is the perfect opportunity to push for a car-free Grant Street!

    http://www.sfdpw.org/modules/showdocument.aspx?documentid=2265 

  • As a Caltrain commuter, I’d say the Giants crowds are a little bit of a pain sometimes just in terms of volume (can be hard to get a seat on some trains), but it’s certainly not a big problem. Everyone’s nice and social (unless you’re wearing a Dodgers jersey, of course). 

  • mikesonn

    It’s not that bad. Bike car is pretty annoying since nearly every commute train is already at capacity and then add in fans sitting on the ground. But yes, most are very nice and usually will share a beer or two with you (silver bullet being the choice product). I’d much rather be packed on a train then having those same fans drinking and driving. Plus, the added fares are a boost and hopefully they’ll vote for more service if we can ever get it on the ballot.

  • Anonymous

    Re: Giants fans on Caltrain

    As a regular Caltrain commuter, I think it’s a big problem. First, Caltrain is violating it’s own policy of the trains being quiet places. For example, on non-Giants trains, conductors constantly make announcements asking people to keep cell phone calls short and quiet. The reason for this is that it annoys everybody off because it’s loud. So how can you discourage that but then *not* discourage groups of 4-8 people yelling at each other and acting like it’s a party bus rather than a commuter train? Further, there is more hypocrisy: bicyclists will often get bumped if there are 4 bikes on all racks in the bike car even if some racks have been racked well enough to get 5, out of claims that it’s a safety issue for getting through the aisle. Yet they have no problem letting groups of Giants fans sitting all over the floor in the bike car completing blocking passage (not to mention spilling beer and leaving garbage all over the place) like it’s their own living room.

    I think it’s great Giants fans want to take the train instead of drive: it’s great to see people understanding one of the many reasons public transit is better than driving (no worrying about parking, you can drink and eat, don’t have to worry about driving and traffic, cheaper (*especially* if you internalize the true costs of driving), etc.), and hopefully it will inspire them to take public transit not just for Giants games but for other events. But just because the basic idea of encouraging more people to take public transit is a good one doesn’t mean we give up all sense of decency and lower your standards. If that was the case, taking public transit would be such a miserable experience that nobody would want to do it, therefore undoing any gains made.

    Here is the essence of my problem with unruly Giants fans on Caltrain. If we are ever going to get people out of cars, that means going from being self-centered to thinking about others. This is because, by its very definition, a car is a place to be selfish: you can play whatever music you want to yourself (with exception: often it’s so loud that it does become the problem of others), you can throw garbage all over your car, you can choose whoever you want in it, talk/yell/sing as loud as you want, etc. And since the car effectively makes you anonymous, there is no sense of ownership of your behavior. A couple generations of this selfish behavior has encouraged us to forget what it’s like to share space with and empathize with others (and I believe this is further exacerbated by the suburbs, which to me are like the “cars” of housing since you can just leave everybody else behind and pretend like nobody else matters and do your own thing). So when you start pulling people out of cars and onto public transit, that same behavior that they used in a car needs to change (although, you can also argue that it needs to change in cars too, since this is why people drive rudely and don’t show proper etiquette or awareness of others on the road). People need to understand that we have to operate on the principle of the lowest common denominator. That is, what is allowed is that which doesn’t affect anybody else. So no loud music, no talking loudly, no leaving your garbage on the floor, etc. I truly believe that the way Giants fans behave on Caltrain is simply a manifestation of people who don’t regularly use public transit and who don’t see it as something utilitarian, just something recreational (going to a Giants game), just like how most people see cycling as purely recreational and not inherently useful for anything else.

    Instead, if we want to think long-term about truly getting people onto public transit, we need to teach them that it’s a quiet, civilized place where you can expect to travel in peace and where you have to understand there are other people who might not like what you are doing. But if we just think short-term, then it’s easy to feed off the “crack” that is allowing Giants fans to act like maniacs just because it makes more money in the short-term.

    In the end, Caltrain needs to crackdown on the unruliness and have the conductors actually tell people to stop yelling. They need to ban alcohol *all day* on Giants games (yes, before the game as well). They need to rip out those damned quad seats and the two-sies which are not only a waste of space (or else extremely uncomfortable having to sit with your knees touching those of strangers) since they do nothing but encourage large groups of people (which are rarely regular commuters, since who commutes in a group?) to sit together and blab loudly and forget that nobody else wants to hear their (usually inane) conversation. And finally, the most difficult thing: they just have to figure out a way to increase capacity and have Giants-only trains on game days.

  • Anonymous

     Regarding Prop. B: I’ve been watching them tear up and rebuild every single (perfectly serviceable) corner ramp along Lake St.

    I really regret that Prop. B passed. Street maintenance should be paid for from the normal budget.

  • mikesonn

    I’ll agree with you on picking regular car-commuters out of the crowd on Caltrain. Gas prices go up and all of a sudden there’s an extra 5-10 people yacking loudly on a cellphone.

    However, it isn’t THAT bad on Caltrain because of Giants fans. Maybe Friday games, but mostly it’s families. I’m speaking solely about pre-game north bound trips. I have heard many horror stories about post-game trains headed back south.

    Caltain’s overall handling of the bikecar is pretty lame. Sometimes they crack down, sometimes they don’t. There is an older guy that sits in the bike car on SB 312 every morning sans bike and talks on his cell phone. The signs asking to reserve the bike car for cyclists are small are out of the way and Caltrain completely dismissed my request for better signage via twitter (their twitter account is a-whole-nother story).

    But really, I think it is a commentary on our society and maybe even the bay area in general. People are assholes. Plenty of people on BART and Muni blasting cell phone music, drinking, eating, spilling, putting feet on seats. It isn’t just Giants fans on Caltrain. Could be that is more noticeable on Caltrain because it isn’t the everyday norm or it is just magnified by 100 when all those fans cram on.

  • Anonymous

    @mikesonn:disqus Yeah, my experiences are also on pre-game northbound trains. And they have been pretty horrendous. I rarely see families, but mostly groups of 20- or 30- somethings all decked out in orange and black and loud even before they get on the train, with beers in hand.They completely subsume the train with their loudness and trash (I don’t understand how Caltrain tolerates the utter mess they leave when they get off the train at 4th and King). You can tell that just because it’s a party bus to them they think it is to everybody else and are completely unaware that there might actually be people who are not on the train for the Giants game but trying to commute like they always do. It actually has been so bad in the last 2 seasons that I have now put the Giants home game schedule into my calendar and try my best to avoid the rush-hour trains on days of home games.

    But I don’t think it’s fair that all us regular customers should be made to feel like this. I think the opposite: Caltrain should be going out of their way to make sure the “regulars” are happy. Long-term, this is what will sustain them, not Giants fans.

    As I mentioned, I think a lot of tension can be resolved pretty easily (in order of easiness-to-implement):

    – Conductors need to make regular announcements reminding everyone that there are many people on the train not going to the Giants game and trying to get home in peace, that it’s not a party bus, that there is a no-yelling or talking loudly rule, and that everyone needs to pick up their trash.
    – Get passengers out of the bike car who don’t have bikes, and if there is not enough bikes to fill it up, remind them that they can’t sit on the floor (SRO) and need to be ready to move if bicyclists need to get to their bikes.
    – Ban alcohol the entire day on game days (as much as it sucks for the rest of us, I’m willing to pay that price).
    – Get rid of the quad and double seats facing each other (those are just annoying even on non-game days).
    – Add more trains on game days.

    In the end, I think your right that it’s a commentary on our society that we are unable to respect other people’s space and right to quiet and peace in public space.

  • mikesonn

    willcaltrainsucktoday.com

  • Mario Tanev

    ENUF has a petition to prohibit SFMTA from expanding its parking meter program. If you believe in a sane transportation policy, sign this counter-petition instead: http://signon.org/s/V5WeBT

  •  did this involve adding the yellow bumpy indicators for blind people?

  •  jd_x – Caltrain to the Giants = gateway drug. Talk to the fans. Tell them you ride your bike to work in the South Bay. Isn’t it dangerous? No, not really, most drivers are pretty considerate and it’s getting better, especially with (whatever their demographic is). More and more people are riding bikes because boy isn’t gas expensive! Boy it would be better if there were more trains, I think we need to pass a special tax to fund more trains. If anyone starts the whole BART bugaboo remind them we will want to be able to use the lines for freight late night too and BART can’t do that.

    The Giants fans throw a shit ton of money into the system. Without them, and bay to breakers, and concerts, and Maker Faire, and etc… we would not be getting those 6 new trains.

    There are a lot of places where Caltrain can improve things with band-aids. The answer to this is simply – more train$.

  • Anonymous

    If someone brings up BART, remind them that BART from Millbrae to downtown SF is 30 mins compared to 16 mins on a Baby Bullet. Even if you add on a few more minutes to get to Transbay you still save 10 mins on every commute by sticking with Caltrain.

    Now if BART the organisation took over management of the line from Caltrain but kept it as a standard gauge railroad, that might make sense, particularly if doing so unlocked a load more funding. What doesn’t make sense is extending broad gauge BART south from Millbrae and so forcing every peninsula commuter to travel via Daly City to get to downtown SF.

  •  jon – I understand that argument and that used to be my boilerplate. It will be rebutted by things like “BART runs more often” which is of course only a function of money, and we go down the rathole.

    The argument that BART has a non-standard gauge and it will prevent us from ever using the lines for freight has no quick rebuttal – other than from the people who live next to the tracks and don’t like the late night freight trains.

  • Anonymous

    Well, I for one would be glad to see freight trains off the peninsula. Mixing passenger trains with freight, even just the nominal two trains a day that run on the peninsula, opens up a world o’ pain in the form of onerous FRA regulations. This is the primary reason why BART trains are fast and lightweight, and Caltrain trains are built like tanks and deathly slow to accelerate. It also makes grade separations much more expensive and intrusive as freight trains require heavy infrastructure and shallow grades, but lightweight passenger trains don’t. And then there’s the horn blowing…

    Caltrain needs to run lightweight electric trains on the current tracks, with fares and schedules integrated with BART, a simpler service pattern with two stopping patterns (one Express + one Local), level boarding at stations, more off-peak service and no FRA regulations. Essentially, it should become another pair of lines on the BART map, but without the mandatory fare gates at stations. So it’s not a bad idea for BART to run the line, providing they keep the existing tracks. BART the organization != BART the technology.

    Aside from the time argument, the other reason we should want Caltrain to remain standard gauge is because then high speed trains can use the tracks to access downtown SF without the need to build four tracks all the way up the peninsula. That’s a much better argument for people who live near the railroad tracks and are worried about the high speed rail authority coming in and eminent domaining swathes of property.

  • Richard Mlynarik

     It will be rebutted by things like “BART runs more often” which is of course only a function of money

    BART, for all its many many many faults, and all its egregious feather-bedding and massive over-staffing, doesn’t have conductors, and assistant conductors, and sub-assitant para-conductors in addition to train drivers.

    Opening and closing doors isn’t a process that ought to involve four people.  Caltrain’s World Class “planning” staff have explicitly made the choice that it should.

  •  On the other hand, Richard, all but 2 of Caltrain’s 20 something stations are unstaffed, and all of BART’s stations are staffed. What are they staffed for? Fare enforcement and information. On Caltrain, that role is handled by the on board staff, who also deal with fatalities and broken down trains….

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