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June 18, 2004

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Publication Date: Friday, June 18, 2004

Editorial Editorial (June 18, 2004)

Baby bullet takes its first step

At long last, after closing weekend service for two years, Caltrain has unveiled its new baby bullet service. Traveling at the same speed as its predecessors, the baby bullet saves time by stopping at only four stations on its sub-one-hour trip from San Jose to San Francisco, including one at Mountain View.

In a region where public transit is often woefully lacking in convenience, access and cost efficiency, the baby bullet is a welcome addition. Peninsula residents have needed a swifter way of getting to San Francisco, and we're glad that it's here.

But we hope that Caltrain considers the baby bullet to be in its infant stage and will promote its growth. With three trains running north and two south during the morning rush hour, and vice versa during the afternoon, the baby bullet may not be doing enough to justify a major lifestyle change for the thousands who commute by car. With the current schedule, commuters don't have enough flexibility, and in waiting for these once-per-hour bullets, they may not even be saving any time.

We hope the baby bullet is sufficiently attracting new customers, and not just rewarding Caltrain's regular passengers.

The current bullet is, at most, a test, not a final solution to easing the Peninsula's congested transit. But hopefully, the long weekends without any trains, the years of construction, and the expenditure of more than $100 million in public funds, will eventually pay off in a full schedule of bullet service that is easy for both occasional and regular commuters to use.

In order to provide more bullet service, according to a Caltrain spokesperson, there has to be more of a demand for it. That means, if you ride it now, you may get more chances to ride it later.

With rising gas prices and continuing environmental and ecological issues stemming from personal car use, we need to support Caltrain and ensure that it has a long future on the Peninsula. The bullet is moving forward, and we should, too.

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