Caltrain (AAR reporting marks JPBX) is a California commuter rail line on the San Francisco Peninsula and the Santa Clara Valley in the United States. It is currently operated under contract by Amtrak and funded jointly by the City and County of San Francisco, San Mateo County Transit District, and Santa Clara Valley Transportation Authority through the Peninsula Corridor Joint Powers Board. The northern terminus of the rail line is in San Francisco, at 4th and King streets; its southern terminus is in Gilroy. Trains operate out of San Francisco and San Jose on an approximately half-hourly basis every weekday, with more-frequent service provided during commute hours and for special events (such as a San Francisco Giants baseball game) and less-frequent service at night and on weekends and holidays. Service between San Jose and Gilroy is limited to three daily commute-hour round trips. Average weekday ridership in February 2008 was 36,993 persons.
As of 2006, Caltrain has 29 regular stops, one football-only stop (Stanford Stadium), and two weekend-only stops (Broadway and Atherton). Caltrain operates a mix of 98 local, limited, and express weekday trains, with 32 and 28 hourly local trains on Saturdays and Sundays, respectively.
| Caltrain Ridership by year|
Average Weekday, Survey done every February.
Under Southern Pacific's ownership, the line was double tracked in 1904 and had experienced record ridership during World War II. After the war, the ridership slowly declined with the rise of automobile use. In 1977, SP filed a petition with the state Public Utilities Commission to discontinue the commuter operation due to the ongoing operating losses.
To preserve the commuter service, Caltrans in 1980 contracted SP and began to subsidize the operation. During the Caltrans' administration, Caltrans purchased new locomotives and rolling stock which replaced the SP equipment in 1985, upgraded stations, introduced shuttle buses to nearby employers, and rebranded the operation as CalTrain.
In 1987, the Peninsula Corridor Joint Powers Board (PCJPB) was formed to manage the line. Subsequently San Mateo and Santa Clara Counties commissioned Earth Metrics, Inc., to prepare an Environmental Impact Report to address right-of-way acquisition and expansion of operations. With state and local funding, the PCJPB purchased the railroad right of way between San Francisco and San Jose from SP in 1991. In the following year, PCJPB took over the full responsibility for Caltrain operations and selected Amtrak as the contract operator. Also, PCJPB extended the Caltrain service from San Jose to Gilroy, with a direct connection to the Santa Clara Valley Transportation Authority (VTA) Light Rail at Tamien Station in San Jose.
In July 1995, Caltrain became accessible to passengers in wheelchairs. Five months later, Caltrain increased the bicycle limit to 24 per train, making the service attractive to commuters in bicycle-friendly cities such as San Francisco and Palo Alto.
In July 1997 the current logo was adopted, and the official name became Caltrain.
In 1998, the San Francisco Municipal Railway extended the N Judah Muni Metro line from Market Street to the San Francisco Caltrain Station at 4th and King streets, providing a direct Caltrain-Muni Metro connection for the first time. A year later, VTA extended its Light Rail from north Santa Clara to the Caltrain station in Mountain View. In June 2003, Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART) and Caltrain systems were interconnected at the Millbrae station just south of the San Francisco International Airport.
In 2008, Caltrain reached an all-time high of 98 trains each day.
In June 2004, Caltrain finished its two-year CTX (Caltrain Express) project to implement a new express service called the Baby Bullet. The project entailed the construction of new bypass tracks in Brisbane and Sunnyvale as well as a new centralized traffic control system. The Baby Bullet trains reduced travel time by stopping only at five stations between San Francisco and the San Jose Diridon Station. The faster express trains could overtake slower local trains at the two locations where bypass tracks were installed. As a result, the travel time between San Francisco and San Jose for the express service is 57 minutes, a savings of 33 minutes compared to the 1 hour and 30 minutes for the local service. While the top speed of the Baby Bullets is the same as the slower local trains, fewer stops allow the expresses to maintain their top speed of 79 mph (127.1 km/h) for a much longer duration, cutting travel time significantly. In addition, the CTX project included the purchase of new Bombardier BiLevel Coach trainsets along with MPI MP36PH-3C locomotives for the express service. The Baby Bullets have proved to be extremely popular with riders. However, as the service bypasses most stations, many riders experience longer commutes due to having to take one of the fewer non-bullet trains, some of which operate more slowly in order to allow the Baby Bullet trains to pass them.
Starting from May 2005, Caltrain implemented a series of fare increases and schedule changes in response to a projected budget shortfall. The frequency of the popular Baby Bullet express trains was increased in order to bring in additional revenues; two express trains were added in May and another ten were added in August. New Baby Bullet stops, also known as Pattern B stops, were also introduced. Another increase of US$0.25 in basic fare was implemented in January 2006. All these efforts helped stablize Caltrain's budget and increase the daily ridership from fewer than 27,000 to over 34,000s.
Service to Hollister along a spur separate from the Monterey County extension has also been proposed.
Weekend service, especially during the summer, could also be provided to Santa Cruz via Watsonville; however, public purchase of the line from Watsonville to Santa Cruz is being fought by certain activists from nearby Aptos..
Although the project has an estimated total cost of $600–865 million, some of these costs can be offset by savings of $1–2 million a year in fuel and other saved costs; the amount saved depends on the price of diesel. Electrified vehicles require less maintenance, but electrification will increase required track maintenance by approximately the same dollar amount, at least initially. Caltrain plans to complete electrification by 2014.
The electrification project between San Francisco and San Jose is the first of two project phases, with the second phase between Tamien and Gilroy. The capital cost, excluding electric rolling stock, for the first phase is estimated at $471 million (2006 dollars). Options for the new electric rolling stock include electric locomotives with new or overhauled passenger cars, or electric multiple units. Caltrain plans to retain the newer diesel-electric rolling stocks for Dumbarton and south of Tamien service.
Ticketing of Caltrain service is provided based upon the number of zones traveled (see above). Caltrain uses a proof-of-payment system; tickets must be purchased before boarding, and will be checked at various times during travel. Discounts are available for 10-ride tickets and monthly passes. Seniors, children and the disabled ride for roughly half price (varies depending on the ticket). One-way fares are as follows (as of 2007-08-14):
The zone-based approach to ticketing requires little infrastructure at the stations but can be disproportionately expensive for passengers only traveling a few stops and crossing a zone boundary. For example, to travel from Sunnyvale to Lawrence (2.0 miles / 3.2 km) requires a $4.00 ticket, while traveling from Millbrae to Redwood City (11.7 miles / 18.8 km) requires only a $2.25 ticket.
In the spring of 2008, CalTrain planned to become the fifth public transit agency in the San Francisco bay area to implement Translink, the smart fare card that will allow seamless transfers between participating agencies. Single rides, 10-ride tickets, and montly passes will all be available on Translink. However, the implementation has been delayed due to problems elsewhere in the TransLink system.
The Peninsula Corridor Joint Powers Board purchased the right of way between San Francisco and San Jose for $212 million from Southern Pacific in 1991. The total operating budget for fiscal year 2006 was $73,524,000. The fare revenue was $30,186,000, making the farebox recovery ratio 41%.
|Builder||Model||Locomotive Numbers||Years of Service||Notes|
|EMD||F40PH-2||902, 903, 907, 910, 914||1985–Present||Overhauled by Alstom in 1999.|
|EMD||F40PH-2CAT||900, 901, 904–906, 908, 909, 911–913, 915–919||1985–Present,||Originally F40PH-2s, overhauled by Alstom in 1999, separate HEP generators were added.|
|MPI (Boise)||F40PH-2C||920–922||1998–Present||No. 920 is the Operation Lifesaver unit.|
|MPI (Boise)||MP36PH-3C||923–928||2003–Present||Primarily used for "Baby Bullet" service.|
|EMD||GP9|| 500, 501;|
Southern Pacific 3187
1980–1985 (Built in 1959)
|Used for Work Train/Yard Switcher service. 500 and 501 were originally Southern Pacific 3833 and 3842. They were initially retired in 2005, but both have been reactivated are in active service as of May 2008. Southern Pacific 3187 received Caltrain's prototype paint scheme in 1980 before the arrival of HEP equipment in 1985.|
|EMD||MP15DC||503, 504||2003–Present (Built in 1974)||Used for Work Train/Yard Switcher service, originally Southern Pacific 2690 and 2691.|
Caltrain also leased a number of Amtrak F40PH's in 1998 and 1999 while Caltrain's F40PH-2's were being overhauled.
There are 93 bi-level gallery-type cars built by Nippon Sharyo in Caltrain's fleet, of which 66 are coaches and 27 are bike accessible cab control cars. Caltrans purchased the first 63 gallery cars in 1985 when it began subsidizing the commuter rail service. The other 30 were purchased by Caltrain in 2000, and the older cars were rebuilt by Nippon Sharyo around the same time. Each gallery car has one set of exit doors on each side of the car.
Caltrain purchased 17 Bombardier BiLevel Coaches in 2002, of which 10 are coaches, 5 are cab-bike cars, and 2 are cab-wheelchair cars. Some of the Bombardier BiLevel Coaches were bought from the Sounder Commuter Rail. Since the Bombardier cab-bike cars can only carry one half the bikes of a Nippon Sharyo car, Caltrain typically runs two cab-bike cars on high-demand trains, with one at the tail and second ahead of the locomotive. Caltrain purchased additional eight cars in 2008 to meet short-term passenger growth and to increase spare ratio. These Bombardier cars are mostly used on Baby Bullet express trains, but occasionally they can be spotted working on limited-stop and local trains.
Caltrain formerly used "Boise Budd" single-level cars it bought from Virginia Railway Express as Special-Event trains. These were sold after becoming obsolete. They are now in service on the Grand Canyon Railway.
In August 2005, as part of its Vasona light rail project, the Santa Clara Valley Transportation Authority established its third transfer point with Caltrain at San Jose's central train station Diridon. In addition to many bus connections, VTA light rail service has two other Caltrain transfer points at San Jose's Tamien and at Mountain View. (Also, the Cottle light rail stop in southern San Jose is a mile from Caltrain's Blossom Hill station.)
The San Francisco Municipal Railway (Muni) has two light rail connections, the N Judah and T Third Street lines, at separate stops near the San Francisco 4th and King station. Muni intended to establish another light rail connection to the Bayshore station at Visitacion Valley in southern San Francisco for the T Third line, but this has been delayed indefinitely due to cost and design issues. The T Third opened on 2007-04-18 without the connection.
All bicycle cars are marked by a yellow bike decal on the outside. Onboard the bicycle cars, the cyclists are required to secure their bicycle to the rack using the bungee cord provided. Each rack can accommodate four bicycles. Because the bikes are stacked together against the racks, most riders place a destination tag on their bicycles to optimize placement and minimize shuffling.
The variation on bicycle capacity between trainsets has generated criticisms from the bicycling community, as cyclists are denied boarding when a train reaches its bicycle capacity. The Baby Bullet service, favored by many cyclists, is routinely operated with lower-bike capacity Bombardier trainsets and cyclists may be forced to wait for slower trains operated with higher-capacity gallery cars, or seek alternate transportation, such as driving.
Due to equipment rotation and maintenance concerns, Caltrain says it cannot dedicate higher-bike capacity trainsets on trains with high bike demand. Caltrain has also rejected removing seats to increase bicycle capacity because some trains are operated at seated capacity and the seat removal would take space from other fare-paying passengers.
To provide an alternative to bringing bicycles onboard the trains, Caltrain has installed bicycle lockers at most stations, and constructed a new bicycle station at the San Francisco station. A bicycle station was open at the Palo Alto station from April 1999 to October 2004, and reopened in February 2007. In early 2008, the CalTrain sponsored Warm Planet bicycle station opened at the 4th and Townsend terminus.
On the Bombardier equipment, due to concerns of crowding the exit/entry doors, the northernmost door is designated the bike entry door, and the rear is to exit.