Faster trains add to some riders' woesBy Gary Richards
Q: Now that you've asked about Caltrain's Baby Bullet, I can vent. The time saved is great, but when I get on the southbound train from Hillsdale at 7:37 a.m., it's packed. One day I gave up looking for a seat and just stood until Palo Alto.
A: Some of the Baby Bullets are almost full, carrying nearly 600 riders on trains designed to carry 650. Shaving 30 minutes off the 90-minute trip from San Jose to San Francisco is so popular that parking is a big headache.
Q: The effect on my commute has been disastrous. My station in Mountain View is now so heavily utilized that parking lots are full by 7:30 a.m. And that's in the summer. Wait until September, when school starts! After years on the train, I'm back to driving. How's that for progress?
A: Not what we want to hear.
Q: I have been taking Caltrain for six years. In that time, no matter how late I got to Mountain View, there was always parking. But now the entire parking lot fills up by 7:30 a.m. If you take the second Bullet train, you have to park on surrounding streets, many of which are limited to five-hour parking. Did anyone take into consideration what the limited stops would do to parking? . . . I've had to drive to Palo Alto instead of Mountain View to use my monthly parking permit and ride the Bullet train. . . . Now I have to get to Mountain View 45 minutes earlier just to get parking! The Baby Bullet is a disaster.
David Blinn, Jon Biggar, Derek Fluker, David Chapman, Denise Stevens and zillions more
A Getting rid of that five-hour parking ban merits consideration, and Caltrain and the city are discussing ways to add another 50 spaces by restriping and reconfiguring the lot. The transit agency removed the two-hour signs to free up 26 additional spaces. This ground-level lot was designed to add two stories, which would provide more than 500 spaces, up from 300. However, that would cost around $12 million, and there is no money available right now.
Caltrain riders who carpool to Hillsdale two days a week for eight weeks can receive a $20 gas card each. For more information, call (650) 588-8170. There are plans to add about 160 spaces there within a year. At Millbrae, riders may park free on the BART lot's east side or in the parking garage.
Q: Caltrain happily sells you a monthly parking pass, but then parking in Mountain View is full at 7:45 a.m. The security guy tells me to park in an overflow lot a mile away and take light rail to Caltrain for an additional $1.50. So I am supposed to pay again? This is ludicrous. . . . In the winter, when the days grow short, I would not feel safe making that walk from the light-rail lot to the Caltrain station. Can they better coordinate light rail or offer shuttles from the VTA lot?
Hans Wolters, Lisa Kvarda and more
A: The light-rail lot is on Evelyn Avenue at Pioneer Way, about a 10-minute walk. Until the VTA can afford to run more trains, the connection to Caltrain may be difficult.
Q: Mr. Road God: I've started a new job in San Francisco and take Caltrain beginning in Blossom Hill, connecting to Baby Bullets at Diridon. The Bullet is easy, fast and much less hassle than driving. And, you won't find me complaining about gas prices!
A: Park for free at Tamien or other stations and take Caltrain to Diridon, where there's a six-minute wait to connect to the Bullets. By Labor Day, as many as 75 new parking spaces should open at Diridon.
Q: On the positive side, the new Caltrain service has forced me to take one train earlier. Caltrain shuttle connectivity from San Carlos to work is completely screwed up after the new trains were introduced. I still see this as a blessing, because I get off at Belmont and walk a mile to work. Good for the heart, and environment!
A: That's the spirit.
Copyright ©2004 San Jose Mercury-News. Published 07/19/2004.