Caltrain Approves Increased Fares, Votes to Keep Warm Planet Bikes Open

The Caltrain Board of Directors today approved an expenditure of $50,000 to support Warm Planet Bikes, according to the agency’s Twitter feed. That influx is expected to keep the bike parking and repair shop open until the agency renews its contract with Warm Planet or another operator in six to eight months. The facility parks up to 170 bikes every day at Caltrain’s 4th and King Station in downtown San Francisco, allowing commuters to avoid having to bring them aboard the trains.

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The board has also reportedly approved a fare increase proposal which the Mercury News detailed earlier this week:

The new proposal recommends just a 25-cent increase for a one-way ticket, no matter how far the route, and a 50-cent increase for the one-day pass.

But if at least half of the ticket buyers don’t switch to Clipper cards by March 1, 2013, staff is suggesting that the board reconsider the original proposal.

Meanwhile, staff has backed off a plan to eliminate the popular 15 percent discount pass for Clipper riders who take the train eight times within a 60-day period. Most of the complaints Caltrain received after announcing the fare increase proposal on Jan. 17 centered on elimination of the eight-ride ticket. Staff now is recommending that the pass has to be used within 30 days, at a discount of only 7.5 percent.

The fare increase is set to take effect July 1.

  • Anonymous

    What does Caltrain have against 8-ride passes? A lot of people telecommute and don’t go to work every day. 8-ride passes are great for regular commuters who can’t afford the monthly passes.

  • mikesonn

    “But if at least half of the ticket buyers don’t switch to Clipper cards by March 1, 2013, staff is suggesting that the board reconsider the original proposal.”

    Is this a MTC requirement? And, if it is, then the MTC needs to cough up dough to put Clipper-able machines at all the stations and have more locations to get youth/senior discounted cards.

    But still, the Peninsula is full of one-off riders (Giants games, Sharks games, maybe Stanford [which doesn’t have a clipper reader] ). Just seems like you’ll still have a fairly high percentage of paper fare no matter what kind of “stick” method you are trying to us.

  • mikesonn

    I believe their argument was that 8-ride gets a better discount than monthly. But the 8-ride is antiquated and was better for zone-based (pre-clipper) travel. The 30-day expiration is just stupid though.

  • Anonymous

    @mikesonn:disqus I’m confused. Take travel between 3 zones. A monthly is $179. Assuming 21 weekdays per month (that’s about average over a year), that means $179/21/2 = $4.26 per one-way trip. An 8-ride is $46, or $46/8 = $5.75 per one-way trip. So how is the 8-ride getting a better deal than a monthly? Even if you miss about 5 days on the monthly it is the same cost as if you had used 8-rides.

    And then you say that the 8-ride was better for zone-based travel. But Caltrain still is zone-based! That didn’t change with the introduction of Clipper.

    But agreed that the 30-day expiration is a horrible idea. Even the 60-day expiration was annoying, but this is ridiculous. There should be a state law against making transit passes expire in anything less than a few months.

    With these changes, Caltrain really screws over the casual rider. And the reason that is bad is actually not because Caltrain will lose enough casual riders to make much more than a dent in their numbers, but because these casual riders are the ones that turn into full-time riders, and so that’s the real loss. Casual riders are basically walking a thin line, and little disturbances will knock them to one side (driving) or another (taking Caltrain more). Unfortunately, these little annoying changes will just prevent many casual riders from becoming full-time riders.

    At least Caltrain did something right by supporting Warm Planets.

  • Another good note. There was a lot of hand-wringing about the fact that the record ridership is starting to fill the trains. Multiple times Scanlon mentioned the fact that they believe they will have to soon figure out how to run more trains to accommodate the capacity. The win from that – more frequent service.

    But that applied mostly to peak service where the loads are getting high, not to bringing back half-hourly service midday.

  • mikesonn

    @jd_x:disqus I’m with you. I’m just repeating what they said via twitter.!/Caltrain_News/status/173466197440987136 

    @mikesonn @makfan 8-ride users were getting a bigger discount than monthly pass holders who one would assume ride more regularly 

  • mikesonn

    Peak service is high for obvious reasons but also because there isn’t much for trains if you miss out on peak service, forcing people to cram on.

  • The problem with 8 rides is that they are a pain in the ass on Clipper and MTC was getting too many customer service calls. A lot of people abandoned the 8 rides when they went to Clipper only – either buying a monthly, paying cash, or leaving Caltrain altogether. This change will remove a few more.

    Next time around they will be able to show 3% use 8 rides, and kill them for good.

    I’m OK with that – get rid of the 8 rides and a discount for Clipper (indicating a motivated regular rider…)

    …but this specific rollout results in a pretty decent fare increase. If that were going back into expanded service, I’d be happy. Time will tell. I am annoyed but nothing more – since I get a Monthly pass (aside – Caltrain has a motivation to get everyone on Monthly passes – there aren’t enough Clipper readers if everyone were tagging on/off).

  • Richard Mlynarik

    The MTC agreement — forced down the throats of all the transit operators — is that none of them are allowed to offer multi-ride tickets, and that all revenue must flow through the pockets of Steve Heminger’s very very very very very special defense contractor pals at Cubic, Inc.

    Even if Caltrain gave a damn about its riders — which it doesn’t — the agency signed away the ability to provide cheap, convenient and customer-friendly ticketing.

    The 8-ride Clipper thing is about the biggest clusterfuck anybody could conceive, but conceive it they did, the World’s Finest Transportation Professionals at Caltrain and Cubic, Inc.

    * Must tag on AND tag off, or get completely screwed.  Hooray!  More time wasted.  Nothing like unpaid pointless labor benefiting the profits of a military contractor, say I!
    * Can’t buy at any station.  Score!
    * Can’t buy anywhere, really.  What’s this “web” thing we hear about?  How do “credit cards” work, exactly?  What is a “mobile phone” anyway?
    * Can’t buy more than one.  Score!
    * Can’t “zone upgrade” to ride extra distance.
    * Relies on the “functioning” of syetems and hardware monopoly supplied by rent-seeking sleazebags at Cubic, Inc.

    Scenario 1:
    * Put money in ticket machine.  Get issued piece of paper. (Just like in backwards third-world nations like Switzerland and Germany!)  Do it is as often as you like, and get as many nice pieces of paper as you like.
    * JUST before riding, stick piece of paper into piece-of-paper-marking machine.
    * Ride.
    * You ticket can be visually checked by fare inspectors (aka “conductors”, at full UTU wages) in seconds.
    * Get off, go about your business.

    Scenario 2:
    * Sacrifice goat.  Somehow hope that Advanced Windows-Based IT Infrastructure of Cubic, Inc, somehow allows a single 8-ride ticket to get onto your personally trackable wonder-card.
    * Tag on before you ride!  Beep beep!
    * Slooow validity verification by hand-held Cubic-sourced beeping boxes.
    * TAG OFF after you ride, or we ship you to Guantanamo</ Gilroy.
    * Repeat every four round trips.
    * Profit!

  • Richard Mlynarik

    What Caltrain has against 8-rides is that MTC requires that the rent-seeking military contractor Cubic be cut in on every transaction, and MTC held a gun to all the agencies’ heads telling them to cut in Cubic or else.

    They signed away the right to do things right by their customers.  Simple as that. Same old story every single time.

  • Umm…. Richard, 8 rides *require* you have a Clipper Card…

  • Sprague


    I enjoy reading your critical views of the Clipper/Translink system.  I agree that the decades-old systems in some European countries are more efficient from the customer’s perspective.  The auto reload function of the Clipper card may be a desirable feature for many customers, though.

  • Anonymous

    Good point — Congress specifically made expiration dates on stored value cards illegal.  UNLESS it is the government screwing you.  


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