Caltrain Conducts Annual Ridership Counts

Caltrain Conducts Annual Ridership Counts


Caltrain has begun conducting its annual onboard count of riders. With generally more than 60,000 riders on an average weekday, the count will provide critical information for planning future service improvements, allocating limited resources and validating ridership estimates based on ticket sales.

The annual count started on Tuesday, January 16, and will conclude in mid- February. During the duration of the count, there will be field surveyors on trains at every door in the vestibule area collecting data. The physical head count of riders is conducted this time of year because there are typically fewer holidays and special events that could skew ridership numbers. And, by conducting the count at the same time each year, comparisons from one year to the next are more accurate. 

Due to increasing project costs and budget constraints, for this year’s annual count, the count methodology for weekdays has been revised. On weekdays, every rider on every train will be counted on either a Tuesday, Wednesday, or Thursday and will be averaged. Riders will not be counted on Mondays or Fridays as ridership on these days is generally lower and does not capture maximum ridership. Riders on every train will be counted during one weekend.

The number of bike boardings and the number of bike riders not able to board the train due to overcrowding also will continue to be counted. The number of passengers needing assistance utilizing the passenger lifts will also be counted.

Average weekday ridership has more than doubled since 1997, when it was just 24,597 passengers, compared to 2017, when it was 62,190. Caltrain typically sees its heaviest ridership months beginning in summer and through the fall. In addition to an overall count of riders, the data is used to determine such things as the most popular stations and the most popular trains in the Caltrain system.

Results of the 2018 passenger count will be released after the data has been analyzed. The results of previous counts are posted on the Caltrain website:


About Caltrain: Owned and operated by the Peninsula Corridor Joint Powers Board, Caltrain provides commuter rail service from San Francisco to San Jose, with limited commute service to Gilroy. Caltrain enjoyed five years of consecutive monthly ridership increases, surpassing more than 65,000 average weekday riders. While the Joint Powers Board assumed operating responsibilities for the service in 1992, the railroad celebrated 150 years of continuous passenger service in 2014. Planning for the next 150 years of Peninsula rail service, Caltrain is on pace to electrify the system, reduce diesel emissions by 97 percent by 2040 and add more service to more stations.

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Media Contact: Matt Wilson, 650.622.7850