I was a regular on the old Southern Pacific through my high school years in the 1970s, and in the 1980s frequently rode Caltrain to work in San Francisco, usually walking the 1.2 miles from the station to my office in the financial district. In the 1990s I began driving to Colma and taking BART downtown, a practice I still follow regularly.
What I cannot understand is why the Peninsula continues to reject BART in favor of 19th century technology.
I've heard all the objections: BART is too expensive; BART is mismanaged; BART is outdated; BART is an East Bay institution. Well let's stop a minute and think about the proposal for the Dumbarton rail service — a roughly $500 million investment in train service that terminates in Hayward. Add to that figure the cost of electrification, grade separations up and down the Peninsula and continued operating deficits and I wonder if BART really is more costly.
The advantages are clear: a true regional solution that ties together the entire Bay Area. BART could be elevated above the Caltrain right of way and bicycle trails could be constructed on the old roadbed providing a safe commute corridor separated from El Camino traffic.
I know that the train buffs won't like my saying so, but the train is inferior. It is dangerous to pedestrians, with roughly one fatality per month on average, noisy, smelly, and slow. It doesn't reach downtown San Francisco and it has limited service after 6 p.m.
Let's dump this dinosaur and get serious about providing some real alternatives to single-occupant driving.
Hermosa Way, Menlo Park