Baby Bullet service expandsBy Dave Murphy
Caltrain dramatically expands its Baby Bullet service starting today, adding five trains in each direction and including stops at the San Mateo, Redwood City, Menlo Park and Sunnyvale stations, plus the Tamien one that links with light-rail service in San Jose.
Now, Caltrain will offer an all-time high of 96 one-way trains each weekday, including 22 rush-hour Baby Bullets, which make fewer stops and allow people to travel between San Francisco and San Jose in less than an hour. That compares with 88 trains previously, and Caltrain board Chairman Mike Nevin can remember when there were only 56 of the trains in the early 1990s.
"When the Baby Bullets opened up (in June 2004), there was standing room only on those trains," Nevin said. "It's been amazing, the bang for the buck we've gotten out of this."
Nevin said that although Caltrain had to upgrade its infrastructure to make the original Baby Bullets feasible, the expanded service doesn't require more workers. Because the trains travel faster, Caltrain workers can make more trips in the same amount of hours.
All the Baby Bullets still will stop in San Francisco, San Jose and Millbrae, where people can connect with BART, but other stations will generally alternate every half hour or so. Some, such as Menlo Park and San Francisco's 22nd Street, are only on the reverse commute -- trains that go south in the morning and north in the afternoon.
Nevin said the different stations were added on certain routes so that more of the Baby Bullets will stop at stations closer to people's homes, and spreading the load also limits the chance of parking becoming a huge problem at any one station.
As part of the changes, Caltrain is suspending weekday service at three stations: Atherton, Broadway in Burlingame and Paul Avenue in San Francisco. The trains still will stop at Atherton and Broadway on weekends, when there is no Baby Bullet service.
Workers from Caltrain will be at the Broadway and Atherton stations today to help displaced riders get to shuttle buses, which will take them to neighboring Caltrain stations.
Caltrain's moves will result in scheduling changes for 14 SamTrans routes as well, so that there will be better coordination between the trains and the buses. Those changes also are effective beginning today.
Also starting today, parking at the Colma BART station and the neighboring SamTrans Park and Ride lot will drop from $2 to $1. Since BART was extended to San Francisco International Airport and Millbrae two years ago, ridership at the Colma station has dropped in half, as more people board the system farther south.
BART parking is free in Millbrae, San Bruno and South San Francisco, but it still costs $2 in Daly City.
On the Web
Caltrain: For details about the new schedule, go to www.caltrain.com.
SamTrans: For more information, go to www.samtrans.com.
Copyright ©2005 San Francisco Chronicle. Published 08/01/2005.