Caltrain Plans to Expand Bike Access on Electrified Fleet


After receiving broad public feedback from riders, and organizations representing the cyclist community, Caltrain has selected a stacking onboard bike storage design for the system’s new electric trains. The Stacking design will maximize onboard bike storage capacity by providing a 12.5 percent system-wide increase when the trains debut in 2021.

Many peak-hour trains are well over 100 percent capacity following historic surges in ridership demand in recent years, so increasing capacity for all Caltrain riders is critical. Despite carrying over 6,000 bikes per day, more than any other rail system in the country, cyclists are frequently left without access to onboard bike space. In 2015, the Caltrain Board of Directors directed staff to increase in onboard bike storage, by approving a ratio that assures one bike space for every eight seats on the electric trains procured as part of the Caltrain Electrification project. The current service includes one bike space for every nine seats.

Caltrain engaged in multiple avenues to receive rider input regarding the new design, including an online poll, a solicitation for public comment and in-person outreach at Caltrain stations and community events. In addition, staff had extensive community engagement with Caltrain’s Bicycle Advisory Committee, as well as both the San Francisco and Silicon Valley Bike Coalitions.

The public was asked to provide feedback on a design that features a wheel-holder mounted on the inside wall of the train and a stacking design similar to what cyclists on Caltrain are using today.  A majority of the poll respondents favored the convenience of the wheel-holder design, but written comments included concerns about difficulty of lifting bikes into the wheel-holder, the design not being able to accommodate all types of bikes, and lower storage capacity compared to the staking design.  The Bicycle Advisory Committee and the bicycle coalitions representing Silicon Valley and San Francisco supported maximizing capacity through the stacking design.

Selection of the stacking design ensures that Caltrain can meet the 10 percent increase in seated capacity required by the agency’s funding agreement with the Federal Transit Administration, and also maximize bike capacity through the increase in the ratio of bikes to seats approved by the Board in 2015.

In November, the Board will consider a plan to provide more bike parking at stations along the corridor. By making bike storage at stations more secure, more convenient and more accessible, the agency hopes to incentivize cyclists who have the option to park bikes at stations rather than bringing them on the train.

The $1.98 billion Electrification project will upgrade the performance, operating efficiency, safety, and reliability of Caltrain’s commuter rail service. It will provide Peninsula communities with a state-of-the-art, modernized rail service that reduces travel time, increases capacity and helps relieve congestion on one of the nation’s most important transportation corridors.

Converting service from diesel equipment to high-performance electric trains will transform travel between San Jose and San Francisco. Electrification builds the foundation for future capacity expansion to accommodate job and population growth, while creating opportunities for new regional and statewide mobility options.


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 more than 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 will celebrate 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 by 2019, reducing diesel emissions by 84 percent and adding more service to more stations.  

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