Thursday, June 05, 2008

Enter and Exit Doors on CalTrain Bike Cars

You may have noticed these new signs on CalTrain's Bombardier bike cars, specifying one door for getting on with bikes and one for getting off.

Sounds like it might speed loading and unloading, but does it? Getting a bike from one end of the car to the other, in the narrow aisle between seats, is pretty tricky--especially on a crowded moving train!

I think conductors have decided this is a bad idea since they never seem to enforce it.

It might actually work if the cars' interior layout were rearranged a bit--make one side of the lower level just for bikes, and the other just for seats. I hear that other operators that use these cars (like ACE) do have different layouts, though I haven't seen this myself (but they still impose the stupid 16 bike limit, which is apparently mandated by the feds).


Fritz said...

I saw those new stickers. The conductors I've spoken with think this new arrangement is kind of ridiculous.

murphstahoe said...

I've experience one conductor enforce this and it was a disaster. Pulling into Palo Alto, 8 bikes had to go from one side to the other through the seats. This was very tricky so nobody could board through this side - the "entry" side.

I was complaining on the train one day about how of all the simple ideas Caltrain could implement to improve their service for almost no money - this is what they came up with. Amusingly, someone who was boarding and heard me talking about the signs - but not that I thought they were a horrible idea - waddled up and said "That was my idea! Caltrain actually listened!"


Here are ideas I think are good.

"Bikes board first on the bike car". People without bikes will sero-sort to car #2 and reduce overall dwell time.

"Dispatcher twitters 2 bike car trains 30 minutes before departure. Trains subject to last minute changes." Certainly the dispatcher has a computer with web access.

I saw something that sums up Caltrain's ability to adopt "high-tech" solutions. There is an ad for a special train to a concert at AT&T park on their signboards at the station. Only it says "AT*centsign*T park", not AT*ampersand*T park. Their signboards don't even have a character for ampersand. This in Silicon Valley. They probably paid millions for sign boards with the capability of a Senior Project for someone's BSEE.