Garbage Can on the Tracks | On a Roll | Paul Bendix | Almanac Online |

Local Blogs

On a Roll

By Paul Bendix

E-mail Paul Bendix

About this blog: A 32-year resident of Menlo Park, I regularly make my way around downtown in a wheelchair. This gives me an unusual perspective on a town in which I have spent almost half of my life. I was educated at UC Berkeley, and permanentl...  (More)

View all posts from Paul Bendix

Garbage Can on the Tracks

Uploaded: Feb 8, 2015
After Caltrain's 8:39 AM weekday express left Menlo Park last Thursday, someone in San Francisco rolled a 55-gallon garbage can in its path. To the south, the town of Atherton was attempting pretty much the same by means of a lawsuit.

When Thursday's train halted in a San Francisco tunnel, two conductors hurriedly moved the obstruction out of the way. Though a 55-gallon garbage can won't derail a train, impact can throw off dangerous metal shards.

The same can probably be said of Atherton's threatened lawsuit.

The town would like overhead electrification lines supported by poles between the tracks, not on either side. Atherton also wants the return of weekday service.

Atherton, population 7100, seems to have remarkable expertise in rail electrification. As for weekday service, Caltrain ceased stopping in Atherton because daily boardings had dropped to 120. By contrast, thousands of daily commuters clamber aboard at Menlo Park, Redwood City and Palo Alto.

Hard to say if Atherton's redesigned electrification is feasible. What's certainly worth trying, is a civic push to boost ridership. The town can sue all it wants, but rush-hour commuters will protest if packed trains keep stopping at Atherton's empty station. These days many Caltrain's expresses run at 120% of capacity. They are often standing-room-only.

As for the garbage can on the tracks, one conductor speculated about the underlying roots. He had lots of time to speculate, waiting to lower me in a wheelchair lift as hundreds of commuters slowly made their way up the rush-hour platform. In the UK, I suggested, railway walls are topped with glass fragments, fences with rolls of barbed wire.

Yes, he shrugged, and they've got 1.2 billion riders a year. Every Briton knows trains are dangerous -- and vital to the economy.

Actually, there are people in Atherton who know the same thing about Silicon Valley. Burgeoning companies need to get people to work. And long-term, they are not in the bus business.

Silicon Valley is all about growth. And unless Caltrain grows, the region's companies can't.
We need your support now more than ever. Can we count on you?

Comments

 +   1 person likes this
Posted by Peter Carpenter, a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood,
on Feb 9, 2015 at 7:48 am

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

Atherton should buy 3 acres of land adjacent to its station and have a developer build low/moderate rental housing. That would both fulfill Atherton's unmet obligation to provide such housing and would generate enough demand to justify the train stopping in Atherton during the week.


 +   1 person likes this
Posted by Robbie, a resident of another community,
on Feb 9, 2015 at 3:52 pm

Nice column, Paul. I liked comparing the Atherton city council to a trash can!


Follow this blogger.
Sign up to be notified of new posts by this blogger.

Email:

SUBMIT

Post a comment

Sorry, but further commenting on this topic has been closed.

Get the most important local news stories sent straight to your inbox daily.

All-day Indian cafe opens in Redwood City with a focus on takeout
By Elena Kadvany | 0 comments | 12,768 views

Menlo Park Now Has A Tremendous Opportunity to Transform Its Downtown
By Dana Hendrickson | 19 comments | 4,692 views

Polar vortexes and clean energy in the Upper Midwest
By Sherry Listgarten | 4 comments | 3,845 views

Union demands too many: Open up the schools now!
By Diana Diamond | 13 comments | 2,957 views

Premarital and Couples: What Happens in Vegas Doesn't Stay in Vegas
By Chandrama Anderson | 0 comments | 2,851 views

 

Calling all photographers!

Enter your best shots in the Peninsula Photo Contest. Open to anyone who lives, works or attends school within the 650 area code. There are both Adult and Youth divisions and six different categories to submit your digital images. Deadline for entries is March 22.

Contest Details