Palo Alto Stations Improvement Project

The Palo Alto and California Avenue stations are critical links in the Caltrain system. The Palo Alto station, second in ridership only to San Francisco, serves nearly 3,700 riders each weekday.

A $35 million year-long project to modernize the stations was completed in 2009. The project improved safety and track capacity at the stations, as well redesigning the stations to meet Americans with Disabilities Act standards.

The work at the California Avenue station (pictured, right) eliminated the “hold-out” rule. Because of the station’s narrow center-boarding platform only one train could be in the station at a time, which meant that other trains had to “hold out,” or wait, outside the station. This created a bottle-neck in the system.

The center-boarding platform was replaced with outside boarding platforms on either side of the tracks. Now, more than one train can pass through the station at time. A fence between the tracks prevents pedestrians from crossing the tracks. And, a new pedestrian underpass allows people to cross easily and safely between platforms.

At the Palo Alto station (pictured, right), the focus was on accessibility. The northern-most pedestrian underpass, which was built decades ago, was rebuilt to allow people who use wheelchairs or other mobility devices to get safely from one platform to another.

An at-grade crossing at the northern end of the station was removed. And, the old boarding platforms were replaced with new, longer platforms.

Additional amenities at both stations include new shelters, lighting, visual message signs and, at California Avenue, a new ticket vending machine at the entrance to the pedestrian underpass.

Money for this project came from a variety of funding sources, including $17.3 million from the Federal Transit Administration, $1.4 million from the state and $14.7 million in Santa Clara County Measure B funds from Santa Clara Valley Transportation Authority.