Another year, and it’s another ridership record for Caltrain.
During the 2016 fiscal year, which concluded on June 30, Caltrain recorded an average weekday ridership of 60,219 passengers—an all-time high for the agency. The 2016 mark represented a 3.2 percent increase from the year prior, which was itself a record at the time.
For the entire year, Caltrain carried some 19.2 million passengers, a 3.7 percent increase from the previous record high set during the 2015 fiscal year. Caltrain has recorded nearly six straight years of monthly ridership increases.
“As the Bay Area economy continues to thrive, Caltrain is becoming more vital than ever for regional commuters,” said Caltrain Executive Director Jim Hartnett. “We’re honored by the loyalty of our customers, and we’re determined to make the steps to ensure that Caltrain remains a reliable, safe and efficient transportation option.”
While Caltrain is proud to be the transportation option of choice for so many passengers, the ever-increasing ridership numbers are putting a capacity strain on the system.
Caltrain has addressed those issues with several near-term solutions. In 2015, Caltrain purchased 16 train cars from Metrolink in Los Angeles to add capacity to its regular fleet. In July, the agency swapped out some older, gallery-style train equipment for newer bi-level models, as a way to increase carrying capacity and devote more resources to maintaining the older train cars.
The real answer for Caltrain’s capacity issues will the electrification of the system, which is set for 2020. Once the train network is electrified between San Francisco and San Jose, Caltrain will be able to run more frequent service, allowing the system to carry more passengers.
Electrification will also reduce long-term environmental and noise impacts, improve regional air quality and cut down on greenhouse gas emissions. And it will allow the rail corridor to be compatible with future high-speed rail service as part of the blended system on the Peninsula.
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 has enjoyed more than five years of consecutive monthly ridership increases, surpassing more than 60,000 average weekday riders earlier this year. 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 corridor, reduce diesel emissions by 97 percent by 2040 and add more service to more stations.