Baby Bullet trains on Caltrain chopping block

Service credited with boosting Caltrain ridership since 2005

By Sue Dremann

Embarcadero Media

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 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 11th-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 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, said Wednesday morning that fastest train service would be eliminated under the new proposal.

"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.


Like this comment
Posted by Dharma
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Apr 7, 2011 at 5:45 pm

Ridership revenue is down so there's a budget problem (didn't we hear that from BART last Fall?) CalTrain solution: cut ridership further by reducing the baby bullet schedule.
When the largest cost category is employee cost (larger even then fuel when oil hit $140/barrel last time) where is SamTrans on cost control? That's not an accusation, its a question that our cities need to ask.

Like this comment
Posted by Fred
a resident of Atherton: other
on Apr 8, 2011 at 3:07 am

Baby bullet was a farce anyhow. Calling newer cars that only differ from the older cattle cars "bullet" was a sham. Just because they made fewer stops didn't make them faster.

Like this comment
Posted by Caltrain is great infrastructure
a resident of Menlo Park: Suburban Park/Lorelei Manor/Flood Park Triangle
on Apr 8, 2011 at 2:39 pm

>>"Just because they made fewer stops didn't make them faster."


Ever look at a schedule? A trip on a "bullet" takes far less time than the milk run trains.

Look at a schedule may be the wrong question. When's the last time you were ON Caltrain?

Like this comment
Posted by Fred
a resident of Atherton: other
on Apr 8, 2011 at 4:30 pm

Yes, an express train travels at the same top speed, but is not a bullet. Trains have their place, but give them the correct titles. Express trains Pac Bell park don't give the alcoholics time to sober up.

Like this comment
Posted by R.Gordon
a resident of another community
on Apr 8, 2011 at 8:20 pm

Damn.....isn't it obvious that 100,5000 dollar TESLA electric cars is the only way to go"?

We beat the need for oil and war and then get our roads paved for free which even covered wagons cannot handle.

Jeesh..........use your brains.
This land is your land this land is mine....share the wealth, man.

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