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Caltrain new parking system out of control

Original post made by Philippe Bossut, Downtown North, on Mar 7, 2007


Caltrain installed a new parking payment system at its downtown Palo Alto station recently. The new system asks you to punch your parking spot number and pay your fee. A notice of change (posted next to the old paying station) says that you do not need to put the receipt on your dashboard, the system "knows" which spots have been paid and which haven't.

Well, apparently, someone at the PA police department doesn't "know" that the system changed and I got 2 citations in the last month for inexistant parking violations. I called Caltrain (1 800 660 4287), the company managing the parking machines (1 800 877 9984), no one wants to take responsibility for the state of affair. Great...

The Caltrain employee I had on the phone told me that I was the first one to complain about this. Still, on March 1st I saw that almost every single car in the same parking lot I was got a citation. I can't believe that everyone "cheated" that day so I'm assuming that lots of other customers did like me, paid their fee and got fined anyhow.

OK, I'll fight the citation (more hassle, more work for all of us...) but, clearly, for this to change Caltrain PA customers need to put pressure on Caltrain so that Caltrain informs the PA Police department of the change and tell them how they can check the system so that they stop fining people at random... Start calling them and explain your issue: 1 800 660 4287

- Grumpy Caltrain rider Philippe

Comments (11)

Posted by JustMe
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Mar 7, 2007 at 1:35 pm

I have always found that new, emerging tochnology is great until it is administered by knuckleheads.
Ben: This is your fathers lightsabre, Luke.
Luke: What good is it? It makes a lousy hammer.

It seems to me that someone missed out on the portion of the contract that called for training.

This is really quite funny until you consider the grief it is going to cause for innocent people who have done nothing wrong. I move that all parking citations handed out in that location be dropped immediately and notices of apology be posted on all the machines, and that this be done as fast as possible.

Posted by A resident
a resident of Midtown
on Mar 7, 2007 at 7:59 pm

Philippe, while I have tremendous sympathy for your receiving not one but two parking tickets at the Caltrain's parking lot, it seems that you only tackled one half of your problem - Caltrains. I suggest you call the Lieutenant in charge of the Traffic Department in the Palo Alto Police Department and tell him/her about "the notice of change" posted next to the old paying station. The daytime phone number is: 650-329-2406. I hope this is fixed by the time I leave my car in a Caltrains parking lot. Thanks for your efforts.

Posted by Philippe Bossut
a resident of Portola Valley
on Mar 7, 2007 at 8:57 pm

Answering to the previous comment: you're right, I could have followed up and call the police department. However, I later discovered that the Caltrain parking lot is handled by the San Mateo County Transit District as it is mentioned on the citation. Therefore, my initial report was wrong and the PAPD shouldn't be blamed for anything here. I apologize to them.

Still, I stand corrected: Caltrain changed the system and should have informed and trained the SMCTD or whoever is in charge of enforcing the rules. Counting on harrassed parking patrons to carry the information is not a very responsible way to handle this.

Posted by zowie
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Mar 8, 2007 at 7:47 pm

Sorry to hear about your rotten experience, Phillipe. Hopefully a PA Weekly news person is actually reading this thread. This is the perfect kind of story that affects everybody in the community that I would hope they would want to hop in and investigate. One reporter's well placed calls, and suddenly smctd would likely become much more involved in fixing the problem.

Best of luck.

Posted by Tyler Hanley
digital editor of Palo Alto Online
on Mar 8, 2007 at 10:43 pm

Tyler Hanley is a registered user.

We have a reporter on this story...a great example of how a single Town Square post can get our attention! Stay tuned.

Posted by Leo
a resident of another community
on Aug 6, 2007 at 8:46 am

I see that this thread was from March, but apparently it is happening still today in San Jose. The same system is in place at the San Jose station. I paid the $2 and took the train, got back in the afternoon and found the ticket. Now I have to call the various numbers and find out how I need to clear this ticket, since I keep the receipts. It looks like no training has been done. Either that, or they do not care and see if they can get away getting $30 from people that throw away the receipts.
Thank you.

Posted by member
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Jun 15, 2008 at 2:36 pm

Recently construction has begun at the Palo Alto Caltrain station, making the situation even worse. With the removal of the northbound parking lot during construction, the same number of commuters must park in 1/3 the number of stalls--an impossibility. So now commuters are parking anywhere in the parking lot they can. Last week the San Mateo County Transit Authority began issuing citations to anyone parked in an un-numbered slot. This is very poor city planning. We should be encouraging commuters to take Caltrain--even during times of construction. If the city is going to remove certain slots, it should make arrangements for alternate lots to be opened (one is across the street from the station).

Posted by RS
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Jun 15, 2008 at 8:35 pm

This is not a city project, complaints should go to caltrains

Posted by DontMatter
a resident of Palo Verde
on Apr 22, 2009 at 12:09 am

Caltrain is run by a bunch of douchebags. Sorry to say it, but I'm fed up with them. They are rude, they charge way too much, they don't clean the trains at all and bump people who've paid for their ride, etc, etc, and their planning (during construction) is horrible. Lastly, in the heart of the Silicon Valley and these idiots can't even create an electronic system (website at the least, but a networked computer at each station would do) to keep riders updated as to delayed trains, accidents, etc. Bunch of freagging morons.

Posted by Greg
a resident of Downtown North
on Apr 22, 2009 at 8:46 am

Caltrain wants to improve, but BART keeps stealing all the public transit money for Santa Clara County. Hopefully they can use some of the HSR money to improve their system.

Posted by Resident
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Apr 22, 2009 at 9:09 am

As an occasional Caltrain user, how come the super duper new signs give the date and time, but no details of how long til the next train or whether it stops at all stations or is a baby bullet? I know the date and time by looking at my watch or cellphone. The info I want is to make sure that the next train coming is the one I want, it isn't delayed and that it will stop at the station I want to get off.

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