Baby Bullet trains on Caltrain chopping block

Service credited with boosting Caltrain ridership since 2005

Caltrain's Baby Bullet trains, which have been credited with boosting Caltrain's ridership since 2005, would be eliminated in the latest budget proposal, Caltrain spokeswoman Christine Dunn confirmed Wednesday (April 6).

Caltrain's Peninsula Joint Powers Board is looking for ways to eliminate a projected $30 million deficit on a $100 million budget for fiscal year 2012. The board was considering drastic cuts that would have cut all service except for peak-commute times and could have closed up to seven stations and ended train access to cities south of San Jose.

But an eleventh-hour proposal hammered together Monday by Caltrain's partner agencies -- San Mateo County's SamTrans, Santa Clara County's VTA and San Francisco's MTA -- and the Metropolitan Transportation Commission would preserve much of the service.

Commuters and board members have attributed much of the system's ridership to the speedy Baby Bullet service, which makes only 6 or 8 stops between San Jose and San Francisco. The service is seen as a stepping stone to the kind of modernization that proponents say is necessary for the long-term viability of Caltrain. Electrification is another goal Caltrain officials argued would be necessary to upgrade the rail system. Caltrain added Baby Bullet service on weekends on Jan. 1.

Former Palo Alto mayor Yoriko Kishimoto, who spearheads the grassroots group Friends of Caltrain, Wednesday morning expressed regret that the Baby Bullet service would be eliminated under the new proposal. The slower "limited express," which stops at 12 or 13 stations, would become commuters' fastest option.

"It's still faster than non-express trains, but it's a significant trade-off. The Baby Bullet is the reason Caltrain saw a skyrocketing of ridership. The savings in time is needed to make the train competitive with driving," she said.

Dunn said, however, that on the proposed 76-train schedule, all trains during the peak commute will be express trains, although not Baby Bullets.

"This will give more riders more choices and may even reduce travel times for some people who are not able to take advantage of the current Baby Bullet service," she said.

A comparison of the current travel times compared to the proposed times for local stations can be found here.

A complete proposed schedule is available here.


Like this comment
Posted by CaltrainRider
a resident of another community
on Apr 7, 2011 at 1:42 pm

Once again an organization is taking the approach that "if it works, fix it."

Like this comment
Posted by Konrad Sosnow
a resident of another community
on Apr 7, 2011 at 2:27 pm

I believe that commuters would be willing to pay a premium to ride the Baby Bullet. Ending the baby Bullet service is a large step backwards.

Like this comment
Posted by Dr. Collateral
a resident of Cuesta Park
on Apr 7, 2011 at 2:41 pm

Dr. Collateral is a registered user.

Only in the Bay Area would an agency cut the a service that is credited with drawing in more customers.

Like this comment
Posted by Risky Scheme
a resident of Rex Manor
on Apr 7, 2011 at 3:00 pm

I'll be getting back in my car to drive to San Franacisco.

Like this comment
Posted by Member
a resident of Cuesta Park
on Apr 7, 2011 at 3:12 pm

The schedule is rather San Francisco-centric. I take the train south to work, where the jobs are, not the 1950's typical north to SF in the morning.

Like this comment
Posted by Jim
a resident of Waverly Park
on Apr 7, 2011 at 4:25 pm

may i suggest replacing the Board as well? seems they about to embark on an experiment to see if all the riders they picked up b/c of 'baby bullet' will be willing to stay with them if given a substitution. sounds like 'new coke' to me...

Like this comment
Posted by DCS
a resident of Old Mountain View
on Apr 8, 2011 at 9:32 am

If they are going ot cut the baby bullet service, I hope they upgrade the limited express trains. I took the limited express for 2 years, it was filled to the max, dirty, and very bumpy.

Like this comment
Posted by Alex M.
a resident of Willowgate
on Apr 8, 2011 at 10:51 am

I sure hope those modern new engines and cars don't get abandoned when Baby Bullet service is abandoned. Those are NICE, a pleasure to ride on, quiet and smooth, with tables to get work done during the commute.

Like this comment
Posted by Mike
a resident of another community
on Apr 11, 2011 at 9:10 pm

They should cut everything EXCEPT the baby bullets.

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