Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
Caltrain is a public supported commuter rail line on the San Francisco Peninsula and the Santa Clara Valley in the United States. Its northern-most station is in southeastern San Francisco, California, at 4th and King Street. Its southern terminus lies in Gilroy, California. It is primarily used by commuters. It has 31 regular stops and two stops used only for events.
Under Southern Pacific's ownership, the line was double tracked in 1904 and had experienced record ridership during World War II. After the war, the ridership slowly declined with the rise of automobile use. In 1977, SP filed a petition with the state Public Utilities Commission to discontinue the commuter operation due to the ongoing operating losses.
To preserve the commuter service, Caltrans in 1980 contracted SP and began to subsidize the operation. During the Caltrans' administration, Caltrans purchased new rolling stock, upgraded stations, introduced shuttle buses to nearby employers, and rebranded the operation as CalTrain.
In 1987, the Peninsula Corridor Joint Powers Board (PCJPB) was formed to manage the line. With state and local funding, the PCJPB purchased the railroad right of way between San Francisco and San Jose from SP in 1991. In the following year, PCJPB took over the full responsibility for Caltrain operations and selected Amtrak as the contract operator. Also, PCJPB extended the Caltrain service from San Jose to Gilroy, with a direct connection to the Santa Clara Valley Transportation Authority (VTA) Light Rail at Tamien Station in San Jose.
In July 1995, Caltrain became accessible to passengers in wheelchairs. Five months later, Caltrain increased the bicycle limit to 24 per train, making the service attractive to commuters in bicycle-friendly cities such as San Francisco and Palo Alto.
In 1998, the San Francisco Municipal Railway extended the N Judah Muni Metro line from Market Street to the San Francisco Caltrain Station at 4th and King streets, providing a direct Caltrain-Muni Metro connection for the first time. A year later, VTA extended its Light Rail from north Santa Clara to the Caltrain station in Mountain View. In June 2003, Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART) and Caltrain systems were interconnected at the Millbrae station just south of the San Francisco International Airport.
In June 2004, Caltrain finished a two-year CTX (Caltrain Express) construction project that was aimed to implement the Baby Bullet express service. The project included the purchase of new Bombardier BiLevel Coach trainsets (along with MPI MP36PH-3C locomotives) for the express service and the installation of bypass tracks in Brisbane and Sunnyvale as well as a new CTC system. The resulting express service reduced travel time by stopping only at five stations between San Francisco Station and San Jose Station: The travel time between San Francisco and San Jose for the express service is 57 minutes instead of the 1 hour 30 minutes of the local service.
Future Service Improvements and Expansions
Downtown San Francisco Extension: An additional 1.3 mile (2.1 km) underground tunnel has been proposed to extend Caltrain from the current northern terminus in San Francisco at Fourth and King, to a rebuilt Transbay Terminal, where it would be much closer to the job center of San Francisco and connect directly with BART, Muni, crossbay AC Transit buses, and long-distance buses. This project is scheduled to start construction in 2006 and open in 2012.
Dumbarton Rail: Caltrain has been chosen to provide commuter rail service on a to-be-rebuilt Dumbarton rail corridor across the San Francisco Bay between the Peninsula and Alameda County in the East Bay. This project will add four stations to the Caltrain system: Union City, Fremont-Centerville, Newark, and Menlo Park/East Palo Alto. Also, the two obsolete swing bridges along the corridor will be replaced. This service is currently scheduled to start in 2010 at the earliest.
South of Gilroy Extension: Caltrain also has plans for south of Gilroy extension. This extension would reach cities in Monterey County, just southwest of Santa Clara County, such as Salinas and Monterey. Depending on state and federal funding availability and a possible local sales tax measure, this service could start in 2010. This project is managed by Transportation Agency for Monterey County (TAMC).
Electrification: Since Downtown Extension requires tunneling and thus requiring electrification, Caltrain also plans to electrify the whole system from San Francisco to Gilroy. This project has the potential to decrease equipment maintenance costs, lessen impact of wild fuel price fluctuation, and give Caltrain a modern image that is comparable to the BART service. The earliest implementation date of electrification is 2008.
(with mile posts; as of June 2004; Ex indicates express train stops)
- Zone 1
- Zone 2
- 13.7 - Ex - Millbrae - Connection to BART, San Francisco International Airport
- 15.2 - Broadway, Burlingame
- 16.3 - Burlingame
- 17.9 - San Mateo
- 19.1 - Hayward Park, San Mateo
- 20.0 - Bay Meadows, San Mateo - event service only
- 20.3 - Ex - Hillsdale, San Mateo
- 21.9 - Belmont
- 23.2 - San Carlos
- 25.4 - Redwood City
- Zone 3
- Zone 4
- 40.8 - Lawrence, Sunnyvale
- 44.7 - Santa Clara - Connection to Altamont Commuter Express and VTA Rt. 10 bus service to San Jose International Airport
- 46.3 - College Park, San Jose
- 47.5 - Ex - San Jose Diridon - Connection to Amtrak and Altamont Commuter Express
- 49.1 - Tamien, San Jose - Connection to VTA Light Rail
- Zone 5 - Peak Hours Only
- 52.4 - Capitol, San Jose
- 55.7 - Blossom Hill, San Jose
- Zone 6 - Peak Hours Only
Ticketing of Caltrain service is provided based upon the number of zones traveled (see above). Tickets must be purchased before boarding, and will be checked at various times during travel. Discounts are available for 10-ride tickets and monthly passes. Seniors, children and the disabled ride for roughly half price (varies depending on the ticket). One-way fares are as follows (as of 2005):
- Within one zone: $1.75
- Between two zones: $3.00
- Between three zones: $4.25
- Between four zones: $5.50
- Between five zones: $6.75
- Between six zones: $8.00
The zone-based approach to ticketing requires little infrastructure at the stations but can be disproportionately expensive for passengers only traveling a few stops and crossing a zone boundary. For example, to travel from Redwood City to Atherton (2.4 miles / 3.9 km) requires a $3.00 ticket, while traveling from Atherton to Sunnyvale (11.0 miles / 17.7 km) requires only a $1.75 ticket.
Caltrain uses (or used) the following locomotives:
- EMD F40PH - Original State Purchased Equipments
- MPI MP36PH-3C - Mainly used for Baby Bullet Express Trains; Purchased in 2003
- EMD GP9 - Work Train/Yard Switcher Duty
- EMD MP15DC - Work Train/Yard Switcher Duty
Connecting rail and bus transit services
Caltrain has direct connections to three regional rail services; Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART) (providing service to Colma, Daly City, San Francisco and the East bay) at the Millbrae Station, Amtrak's Capitol Corridor and Coast Starlight trains, as well as Altamont Commuter Express at the San Jose Station.
Caltrain is served by a number of local bus/rail systems. These system include the San Francisco Municipal Railway (Muni), San Mateo County Transit District (SamTrans) and Valley Transportation Authority (VTA).
Caltrain is also served by AC Transit from Hayward at the Hillsdale station, Dumbarton Express from Union City at Palo Alto, Highway 17 Express bus from Santa Cruz at San Jose, as well as San Benito County Express from Hollister and Monterey-Salinas Transit from Monterey County at Gilroy.
Caltrain sponsors many shuttle routes serving local employers on the Peninsula and the Silicon Valley. Shuttle connections are available to Stanford University at the Palo Alto and California Avenue stations and San Jose State University at the San Jose Station.
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