Today’s Headlines

  • SFBC Calls on Supporters to Urge Supervisor Chiu, SFMTA Board Today to Support a Safer Polk Street
  • Supes Committee Passes Wiener’s Legislation to Streamline Ped Safety Projects (SF Examiner, ABC)
  • More on the Latest Report on Muni’s Unreliability and Poor Maintenance (SF Gate, CBS)
  • TransForm: Latest BART Meltdown Shows Need to Improve Existing System Before Expanding
  • BART Workers Plead With Board to Address Violence on the Job (YouTube)
  • SF Sues Car-Share Startup FlightCar for Not Paying Car Rental Company Fees (CoCo Times)
  • SFMTA Board to Consider Banning RVs From Overnight Parking in Some Neighborhoods (SF Examiner)
  • Bicyclist Killed on I-80 in Berkeley ID’d as 24-Year-Old Michael Arthur of Massachusetts (KTVU)
  • North Oakland Driver Hospitalized After Crashing Into House on Market Street (Mercury News)
  • Drunk, Unlicensed Driver Who Ran From Police Arrested in San Rafael (Marin IJ)
  • Palo Alto Civic Hackers Create Mobile Parking Survey and Visualization App (Peninsula Transpo)

More headlines at Streetsblog Capitol Hill

  • A blatant pimp job here – apologies Aaron.

    Caltrain has been discussing how to deal with the fact that the service is getting pretty much swamped. They are discussing trying to buy more train cars to try to run 6 car trains or something, which takes time to implement, costs money, and would be troublesome because the platforms in many cases won’t take 6 car trains.

    A simpler answer would be that Caltrain can just extend what they currently call their “peak” period to run later. They are working from the flawed and dated theories on when “peak” period is. The data then becomes self-fulfilling in the case of Caltrain – more riders ride the train during the peak period because during peak there are express trains. As one commenter so clearly put it, Caltrain does not fit people’s lives, people fit their lives around Caltrain.

    We are urging Caltrain to increase service by extending the peak period by changing the first off peak trains from locals to express trains, extending the rush hour period.

    A good writeup can be found at

  • Healdsburg was scheduled to vote on a Vulnerable Users Ordinance last night. After a lot of back and forth that sounded like we were going down to a straight defeat, the City Council referred this to the “Traffic committee”, effectively a pocket veto that allowed them to not take an “anti-cyclist” position.

    The public and city council comment generally focused on the law being a redundant law that would only open up the door to frivolous lawsuits. Of course, there are plenty of ordinances that do the same, which do not attract the same commenters. I wish they would just own up and say “I hate cyclists”.

    Fortunately the town is generally populated by more reasonable people. I had the pleasure of riding down Westside Road yesterday – a road which one of the commenters said “We need to get the bicycles off Westside Road”. Just before the entrance to town, I passed the sign for a big wine and olive oil tasting facility with a big sign that said “Bicycles Welcome!”

  • Andy Chow

    This is an interesting idea worth looking into. If Caltrain can’t grow ridership by putting more trains during the peak hours, Caltrain might try to grow ridership at times when trains aren’t as productive. Along the same line, trains 289 and 191 could be converted into local/express combo like 261 and 263 trains.

  • mikesonn

    Current infrastructure caps their peak. I think we have to wait for electrification for that to change.

  • The trains are only less productive in those off peak hours because of the crappy service.

  • Richard Mlynarik

    Utter nonsense.

    Caltrain’s 19th century operating practices, regulation, and over-staffing — combined with insane inability to do any planning of any type — are what “caps” the crappy service.

    Electrification has literally no effect whatsoever on any of this. Which is quite the outcome for a $1.5 billion public “investment”, you have to admit!

    Sadly the only thing the electrification — electrification without service planning, electrification while bring run as a freight railroad, electrification while running 1940s style train service patterns, electrification while station stop times cannot be controlled due to lack of level boarding — will do is to increase maintenance and totoal operating cost! It really is that bad.

  • mikesonn

    Those operating practices, regulations, over-staffing, aren’t those imposed the FRA? No excuse, just asking.

  • Richard Mlynarik

    Imposed by the FRA? Yes, partially so.

    But note that not only has Caltrain made zero attempt to address those crippling regulations and union agreements which aren’t FRA (most particularly level boarding, which could have been fixed by one single phone call to a senior California legislators’ office any time in the last 14 years) but its former Rail Transportation Chief actively sought to remain FRA regulated, even while admitting that there was a clear opportunity to escape this, because he — the instigator of the $250 million signal system catastrophe, note — believed it would be “a fun project to work with freight.”

    Fun. Big fun.

    You can’t make this stuff up, can you?

    Anyway, that “fun” is costing many hundreds of millions of work and putting Caltrain modernization — real, customer- and taxpayer-benefiting modernization, as opposed to agency and contractor-benefiting “spending of two billion bucks and delivering nothing” — back at least twenty years.

    But, you know, more dedicated funding for Caltrain or we kill this kitten! And electrification will fix everything, trust us. Somehow. We’re not sure how, but his time we really mean it!

    Heckuva job!

  • DJ

    I would go one step further. Commute hours should be the only time that “non-core” stations are served, so all off-peak and weekend trains are Baby Bullets or something close to it. Look at a station like California Ave–it’s reasonably productive and gets a little over 1,000 riders per day, but the vast majority of these riders are local residents and workers at peak periods. Mid-day ridership at California Ave is abysmal. The same could be said for South San Francisco, Burlingame, Belmont, San Antonio, Lawrence, etc. If Caltrain could provide a time-competitive Baby Bullet service to its core stations like Palo Alto, Redwood City, and San Mateo that already have all-day and weekend activity, it could dramatically increase ridership and reduce operating costs.

  • Richard Mlynarik

    That’s not the way that successful regional rail systems elsewhere in the world work. Pretty much exactly the opposite.

    But the USA is Special…

    Predictable, even-headway, co-coordinated, all-day services with penalty-free, zero-cost, mode-neutral, timed transfers and uniform day-long base service station departure times are more like what the backwards foreigners seem to go for.

    Reports are that unAmericans also seem to go with higher performance but energy efficient trains (Caltrain has no interest); fast dwell times of trains at stations (Caltrain has less than zero interest); fast and convenient station access for passengers (Caltrain actively works against this at ever single multi-million station “renovation”); and significantly lowered hourly train operating cost through One Person Operation, post-1950 maintenance practices, and equipment designed and procured based on lifecycle cost. (Need I say that Caltrain’s world class staff and consultants are working against all of these foundational basics?)

    Come to thing of it, even BART doesn’t seem to be down with this “core stations except at peaks” business either. Weird!!!