News

Baby Bullet trains on Caltrain chopping block

Service credited with boosting Caltrain ridership since 2005

Caltrain's Baby Bullet trains, which have been credited with boosting Caltrain's ridership since 2005, would be eliminated in the latest budget proposal, Caltrain spokeswoman Christine Dunn confirmed Wednesday (April 6).

Caltrain's Peninsula Joint Powers Board is looking for ways to eliminate a projected $30 million deficit on a $100 million budget for fiscal year 2012. The board was considering drastic cuts that would have cut all service except for peak-commute times and could have closed up to seven stations and ended train access to cities south of San Jose.

But an eleventh-hour proposal hammered together Monday by Caltrain's partner agencies -- San Mateo County's SamTrans, Santa Clara County's VTA and San Francisco's MTA -- and the Metropolitan Transportation Commission would preserve much of the service.

Commuters and board members have attributed much of the system's ridership to the speedy Baby Bullet service, which makes only 6 or 8 stops between San Jose and San Francisco. The service is seen as a stepping stone to the kind of modernization that proponents say is necessary for the long-term viability of Caltrain. Electrification is another goal Caltrain officials argued would be necessary to upgrade the rail system. Caltrain added Baby Bullet service on weekends on Jan. 1.

Former Palo Alto mayor Yoriko Kishimoto, who spearheads the grassroots group Friends of Caltrain, Wednesday morning expressed regret that the Baby Bullet service would be eliminated under the new proposal. The slower "limited express," which stops at 12 or 13 stations, would become commuters' fastest option.

"It's still faster than non-express trains, but it's a significant trade-off. The Baby Bullet is the reason Caltrain saw a skyrocketing of ridership. The savings in time is needed to make the train competitive with driving," she said.

Dunn said, however, that on the proposed 76-train schedule, all trains during the peak commute will be express trains, although not Baby Bullets.

"This will give more riders more choices and may even reduce travel times for some people who are not able to take advantage of the current Baby Bullet service," she said.

A comparison of the current travel times compared to the proposed times for local stations can be found here.

A complete proposed schedule is available here.

Comments

Posted by Antonio , a resident of Mountain View
on Apr 6, 2011 at 1:55 pm

The more cuts the better, looking forward to being able to sleep at night without the obnoxious horn sound.


Posted by commuter, a resident of Barron Park
on Apr 6, 2011 at 2:56 pm

The train has been running on the same tracks for more than 100 years. If you don't like the noise, don't live near the tracks.

Shutting down El Camino Real would improve my quality of life, but I'm not greedy and selfish enough to push for that.


Posted by tjw, a resident of Downtown North
on Apr 6, 2011 at 3:10 pm

Those horns that keep you up at night are freight trains, which run on the same tracks. Caltrain stops running at 11pm.


Posted by David Bloom, a resident of Mountain View
on Apr 6, 2011 at 4:15 pm

tjw: Last Caltrain runs through Palo Alto at 12:57am. But without it, you'd be hearing ambulance sirens from DUI accidents instead.


Posted by Martin, a resident of Downtown North
on Apr 6, 2011 at 8:19 pm

Caltrain has their head screwed on backwards, and if Yoriko Kishimoto has recommended this option, then so does she. The one shinning star Caltrain has, is the express service into San Francisco.

Instead taking this backward motion, trying to serve every single rider and station, they should focus on quick and efficient travel time for commuters. If riders need to congregate at fewer stations, then so be it. That provides a quicker and more effective service for everyone getting to, and coming back from work.

Caltrain, stick with what works, make bold decisions, and stop trying to compromise. Compromise will lead you to ruin.


Posted by the_punnisher, a resident of Mountain View
on Apr 7, 2011 at 10:45 am

How about trimming salaries first? You don't kill the goose that is laying the golden eggs for Caltrain.

How about releasing the COMPLETE costs for every part of operations. I'll bet the public would like to know ALL the pay levels across the board...


Wake up,the party's over. Back to reality, people...



Posted by TimH, a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Apr 7, 2011 at 11:16 am

It's so much bigger than complaining about train noise. Caltrain is just another government agency that appears to operate like a true corporation, but is populated by government employees who would not survive in actual "for profit" environments. There is no sane company that would cut its best products or services to meet a new budget plan. As others have indicated, restructuring the workforce (yes, layoff) to create a leaner and more productive operation is needed at Caltrain and so many other government agencies. Working for state and federal agencies should not be considered a lifetime job. These companies, like the USPS, need to change to compete. The rail business has been propped up by taxpayers since taxes were first created in the USA. Unfortunately the Caltrain and its predecessors display a crushing ineptitude and (worse) sense of entitlement that may ultimately lose a valuable transit resource that Peninsula residents need and use. I'm tired of being held hostage by government "managers" that have no management skills or vision.


Posted by svatoid, a resident of Charleston Gardens
on Apr 7, 2011 at 11:45 am

"Former Palo Alto mayor Yoriko Kishimoto, who spearheads the grassroots group Friends of Caltrain, Wednesday morning expressed regret that the Baby Bullet service would be eliminated under the new proposal. The slower "limited express," which stops at 12 or 13 stations, would become commuters' fastest option."

Martin is correct. So what is Yoriko and her group doing to maintain the popular Baby Bullet service. Typical yoriko, though, plenty of talk and no action


Posted by a frustrated neighbor, a resident of Barron Park
on Apr 7, 2011 at 12:46 pm

Eliminating the Baby Bullet trains, "which have been credited with boosting Caltrain's ridership" is a shortsighted move in the wrong direction. In public transportation we are closer to being a third world country along this highly populated, industrialized and most sophisticated urban stretch between San Jose and San Francisco. This would again encourage passengers to get back into their cars in hope of reducing their travel times - the oil companies will certainly appreciate this move.


Posted by Sheldon Kay, a resident of Menlo Park
on Apr 7, 2011 at 6:51 pm

Stupid, stupid ... that is getting rid of the bullet trains.


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