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Original post made
on Jul 20, 2007
Don't get me started! It becomes ever harder to take seriously anything that Caltrain says. Year by year they carry more riders. They take in more money. But that pesky "structural deficit" just won't go away. Go figure!
But wait . . . . wait until 2014! Then all their problems will be solved. . . . . seven years from now.
Now, about those lighter electric trains that will fix everything and "double its current number of weekday trains."
1. The Federal Railroad Administration does not permit those lighter electric trains on the same tracks as freight.
2. Today, Caltrain runs almost 100 trains per day. Crossing gates go down and up 100 times. With electric, they say that the number of weekday trains will double, right? 200 trains each day. Crossing gates will go down twice as many times. . . will they ever go up during the commute hours? And, commute time reduction with electric? About 10 minutes. WOW.
The article doesn't say so but -- the solution to all their problems -- electrification, is presently budgeted by Caltrain at around $600 million. You just know that it will be double that or more. Where will those funds come from? Beats me!
Any ideas about how CalTrain ridership in Menlo Park or Atherton have changed? Service stinks locally; we should find out.
The ridership numbers from Atherton on weekdays? That's easy. It's 0 because Caltrain doesn't stop at the Atherton station.
A handful of people were taking the shuttle from the Atherton station to Redwood City, but that just ended. It's hard to know how many Athertonians were just driving themselves directly to Menlo Park or Redwood City to catch the train.
Caltrain is intent on diminishing stops in Mid-Peninsula. They want fewer stops since this makes their trips faster. They believe that "selling" quicker trips is building their ridership.
Furthermore they have said that they intend to become a regional carrier. That means, not so much a local carrier. Wishing for stations to be re-opened or train stop numbers to increase, like in Menlo Park, is futile, in my opinion.
While Caltrain may indeed be a difficult organization to deal with, we also have to re-think and adjust our expectations. Relying exclusively on rail-only is, in my mind, flawed thinking. Transit, urban mass transit, is much more than rail. It needs to be a "modality" mix, including buses and light rail, even small vehicle shuttles which some local companies deploy to encourage their workers our of their cars.
For many people who have been brought up on the idée fixe of rail, it's hard to let go, to stop believing that rail is the cure for everything. There is an old saying in the corporate world about the railroads: "They thought they were in the railroad business when they should have understood that they were in the transportation business."
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