Dear Mr. Scanlon et all…
To me, a clear winner for Caltrain would be to modify weekend service to run bullet or limited service instead of local service.
Currently, instead of even providing the poorly received local service you run midday and late night, you add the Broadway and Atherton stations to the weekend schedule, making an inconvenient, slow use of Caltrain even worse. Admittedly I do frequently ride my bike from San Francisco to Palo Alto on the weekend and then return to the City on Caltrain, but by that time I am tired, have purchased a lunch and a newspaper to enjoy on the train, and can sit back and relax. However, if I were in the need to get anywhere in a timely fashion on the weekend, Caltrain is not a palatable option.
I am not a railroad operator, but it stands to reason that less starting and stopping would reduce fuel costs – albeit perhaps by a trival amount. This proposal would also make schedules more reliable. The key gain is that such service – just as it has on weekdays – would attract MORE riders – and most of these riders (unlike on weekdays) would be non-regular travelers paying full fare. The difference between one hour from Palo Alto and 30 minutes from Palo Alto would be a dealmaker for many casual riders, especially Giants fans and other ATT Park event goers.
Certainly there is some downside from communities that feel they would be left out of the stop list. However, all of those stops are serviced – roughly – by buses like the VTA 22 and Samtrans 295, among others. Fortunately Mr Scanlon is also the head of Samtrans and could coordinate the parallel bus service to work with the bullet Caltrain schedule, and the VTA head should be amenable as well. If the alternative is NO service at all, I see little room for those communities to complain.
John Murphy – San Francisco, loyal rider since 1996