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Caltrain business plan - opportunities and infrastructure Boomerang-Outbox

From: domainremoved <Adina>
Date: Sun, 3 Feb 2019 19:26:50 -0800

Hello, Mayor Mueller and Council Member Combs,

As Menlo Park's representatives on Caltrain's local policymaker working
group, you have likely seen information about the potential for ridership
and service increases enabled by electrification over time. Using
information from the agency's reports, here is an update on how the future
scenarios may relate to Menlo Park.

Caltrain’s business plan studies reveal exciting forecasts that Caltrain
could increase ridership to nearly a quarter of a million average daily
trips, depending on the service schedule it runs and the infrastructure it
adds to support higher levels of ridership.

If Caltrain provides service to meet pent-up demand, ridership would
increase from ~70,000 today, when Caltrain already carries the equivalent
of nearly 3 freeway lanes. The increase would be the equivalent of
double-decking the 101 freeway
<http://caltrain-hsr.blogspot.com/2017/08/freeway-lanes-of-caltrain.html>.

Caltrain has been analyzing and reporting on what the future growth
scenarios would look like
<http://www.caltrain.com/Assets/__Agendas+and+Minutes/JPB/Board+of+Directors/Agendas/2019-01-10+JPB+-+Business+Plan+special+meeting+quarterly+report.pdf>
 in terms of service levels, and the amount of passing infrastructure that
would be needed to deliver the service with a high-quality, clock-face
schedule where trains arrive at regular intervals (unlike the confusing
irregular schedule today.)

The “Baseline” scenarios studied in the Caltrain and High Speed Rail
environmental reviews assumed a schedule with up to 6 Caltrain trains per
direction per hour (tph), with up to 4 High Speed trains.

The “Moderate growth” scenario could double this, to 12 trains per
direction per hour – a train every 5 minutes at the busiest stations. The
“High Growth” scenario would increase frequency to 16 trains per direction
per hour – a train less than every 4 minutes (the same as BART’s frequency
in the core between Daly City and West Oakland).
The “Moderate Growth” scenario would require about 4 additional miles of
passing infrastructure over today’s system, and the “High Growth” scenario
would require 11 more miles of passing track. Based on Caltrain's current
analysis, this passing infrastructure is not expected be be located in
Menlo Park.

The passing tracks would help not only with service level and capacity, but
also would improve the quality of the service. Without additional passing
infrastructure, the studies showed that the Caltrain schedule would be
affected by “bunching”.

For example, without passing infrastructure, Downtown San Mateo would see 4
tph (trains per direction per hour) – but two trains would arrive over a
span of <10 minutes, then there would be a >20 minute gap in service while
high speed trains travel through the corridor. Also, with passing tracks,
service could be designed to avoid the “you can’t get there from here”
challenges with the skip-stop pattern.

*Menlo Park (and Atherton)*

Menlo Park and Atherton face a tradeoffs relating to restoring service to
the station in Atherton that is currently only served on the weekend today.

Earlier, Caltrain had proposed to restore weekday service to Atherton with
electric service.

But Caltrain’s analysis has shown that there would need to be be a tradeoff
between service in Menlo Park and Atherton, if service is restored to
Atherton. You may already be aware that these sensitive tradeoff decisions
are forthcoming.

For the Moderate and High Growth scenarios, Caltrain could deliver a total
4 trains per hour to the stations at Menlo Park and Atherton. That set of
stops could be distributed in any combination - 4+0, 2+2, 1+3, etc.

The tradeoff is needed because the station areas will not have passing
tracks, and therefore stops will need to be skipped to avoid delaying
express trains.

Menlo Park has recently slipped from 10th to 11th place in ridership. It
has an active but relatively small downtown, with additional mixed use
transit-oriented development in the works.

Atherton, with a population of 7,000 people and very few businesses, has
been reconsidering whether it wants the service restored
<https://almanacnews.com/news/2019/01/16/atherton-to-re-examine-caltrain-stops-in-town>.


Increasingly, regional and state policymakers are considering requiring
cities with rail stations to accept more housing as a strategy to address
the state and region’s housing crisis. Atherton traditionally strongly
prefers avoiding change to the city's population, and is reluctant to take
on service if this means it is more likely that they would be expected to
add housing.
*Station* *Baseline* *Moderate* *High growth*
Atherton ? ? ?
Menlo Park 2tph 4tph 4tph

*Plans for electric service schedule in 2022*

The “Baseline” scenario - with initial electrification - assumed a “skip
stop” pattern that poses some challenges in traveling between non-major
stations.The prototypical “skip stop” schedule studied for initial
electrification is not a real schedule that Caltrain plans to deliver.
After the board decides on its long-term service vision as part of the
Business Plan, Caltrain will assess schedule options for initial electric
service, and potential roadmaps to expand service from a 2022 starting
point to the future scenarios. Then, before electric service starts in
2022, there will be a public process to discuss and review the service
options for initial electric service.

*Summary*

Here is the full blog post showing how a Caltrain system with much higher
ridership would work city by city– how much extra service is likely to be
provided, and what passing tracks would be needed to deliver that service?

http://www.greencaltrain.com/2019/01/city-by-city-what-the-future-might-hold-with-caltrain-electric-service-growth-and-infrastructure/

The scenarios offer the potential for greatly increased service that would
help support current and planned development and increased ridership demand
in the downtown area.

Given these potential major changes, might Menlo Park interested in a City
Council study session or Rail Committee workshop?

This Spring, the Caltrain board is expected to make important decisions
about strategic direction that will effect Menlo Park and the whole
region. Menlo Park's voice will be heard on the Local Policymaker Working
Group. Will Menlo Park want to express a more direct opinion?

Thank you for your consideration,

- Adina
Adina Levin
Friends of Caltrain
http://greencaltrain.com
650-646-4344
Received on Sun Feb 03 2019 - 19:23:32 PST

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