Caltrain Ridership Continues to Spike

For 26 consecutive months, Caltrain ridership has continued to grow.

Caltrain reached a milestone in September by serving 50,821 average weekday riders, a new all-time high, and transit officials said Thursday the agency is continuing to experience ridership growth.

September was also the second month this year to see ridership totals of more than 50,000, according to  transit officials. 

Shuttle ridership also increased by 52.1 percent in September to 10,247 riders. Shuttles provide a last-mile connection for commuters using the train to get to work sites off the rail system.

Caltrain also served huge numbers headed to special events in San Francisco including baseball game service, and service to Stanford Football and Opera at the Park. The Opera at A.T.&T. Park drew a 37 percent ridership increase, over the event a year ago, while baseball ridership grew by 12 percent. 

The special event service was capped off with a record-breaking day for transit usage throughout the Bay Area as Giant’s fans headed to the World Series Championship Parade, Oct. 31.

Caltrain carried more than 88,000 riders that day, marking its largest single ridership day ever. The previous record was set during the 2010 Giant’s Parade when Caltrain carried roughly 80,000 riders.

The ridership growth comes with some challenges for the aging rail system. On-time performance has dropped over the past month, and a series of signal malfunctions, mechanical problems and isolated events transit officials say are beyond the agency’s control have caused the performance degradation.

Officials say it’s especially difficult to recover service after a major delay during the peak because there are limits to the additional equipment and crew that can be brought in to help offset delayed schedules.

Additional minor delays due to the heavy ridership throughout the system compound these other performance issues. Large crowds take longer to safely board the train, lengthening the dwell time for those trains.

Caltrain is working closely with its contractor TASI to recover service more quickly following these events and reduce the impacts to riders, according to transit officials.

“We really do have great customers. They are an engaged and loyal group and they deserve a high quality service,” Mark Simon, Caltrain’s executive officer for Public Affairs, said in a statement.

“This has been a rough patch but we’re throwing everything we’ve got at improving performance. We want to thank our customers for hanging in there through these growing pains,” he said.


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