Thursday, February 5, 2009

Nice Racks!

Caltrain JPB meeting report:

Dozens of cyclists in attendance making many public comments including George Lane this AM.

Final Tally - Caltrain will immediately begin ordering racks to increase Bombardier cars to 24 bike spaces and gallery cars to 40 spaces. The bike car will stay as the cab car, so 2 bike car consists will have 48 or 80 slots. This will still be "random" but Chuck Harvey said Caltrain will "try" to schedule them for peak cars.

The initial proposal was actually for more capacity - 32 on the bombs but the cyclist in attendance all protested that this produces a disincentive to take your bike on board as it presents a theft risk. The push was for the board to review the proposal first. Scanlon gets major props for responding that this would serve as a delay so why don't we order the racks, put the racks in the gallery cars as specified, put one set of racks into the bombs leaving 11 seats but expanding capacity, then see if we can resolve the theft issue.

Personally I was very happy with the result. If you look back a year and recall that Caltrain was insisting there would be NO additional capacity, it shows that perserverance, organization, and hard work can get things through even a public sector organization.

Now, we push for more. The lowest hanging fruit in my limited view is that there are 2 Bombardier "Cab Cars" that have no bike capacity in them. Let's get those babies swapped to 24 bike slots, that would leave only one consist in the entire fleet with 24 slots if my memory serves. Then we can try to get them to convert some trailer cars to bike cars so we can have 2 bike cars on every train, try to figure out how to safely put 32 in each bomb car, etc...

Anecdote - Chuck Harvey (Caltrain Operations) noted that Caltrain has crappy technology (I think he used the words "not robust") and that prevents them from doing real time information dissemination. Paul Schreiber brought this up in his Public Comment and basically said "Caltrain keeps saying this is too expensive - there is a ton of free technology out there - and if Twitter is good enough for BART and JetBlue, it is good enough for Caltrain". Good Point! He went on to basically volunteer the Caltrain Passenger Mafia to do the work! After he sat down some Caltrain guy came running over to Paul to swap cards because "This is exactly what we want to do". We've been telling them this sort of stuff for a long time, but having them on the run and getting comments out in the JPB meeting makes it more poignant I guess.

1 comment:

djconnel said...

A year ago, Caltrain was claiming: (1) it takes more than one seat to make room for a rack. Now we find the ratio is 1:1. (2) You absolutely need at least one seat per bike position on the bike car. No we find you need 0.09375 seats per bike position. I argued strongly against each of these assertions, only to be dismissed by Lisa and Astrid. It's great to see Caltrain actually responding to the cycling community, and a bureaucracy acting quickly (dismissing yet another month of discussions, as much as I really love SFBC's engagement -- big thanks to Shirley and Andy and you and the rest). It was a great meeting.