Caltrain Ridership Sets Yet Another Record
Caltrain ridership has set another record, driven by younger and wealthier riders who are choosing the comfort and convenience of the train over the uselessness of 101 or 280:
Caltrain ridership is booming, its riders are younger and wealthier, and they’re ditching their cars in favor of using bicycles and their feet to make it from the station to their destination. That’s according to a duo of new reports documenting ridership and demographic trends on the roughly 50-mile system….
More than a third of Caltrain riders have been riding the system for less than one year. That suggests a lot of converts as more tech companies locate near the stops. A lot of leases have been signed at places like Sunnyvale Business Park, so you’d expect new riders to be coming into the system as companies expand.
This is great news for Caltrain, though it also shows the importance of the region and the state providing a stable source of operating funds.
It also shows the value of having stations located close to jobs. Caltrain’s stations are all located in city centers, since the cities along the route (except for SF and San José) grew up around those stations. While Peninsula NIMBYs have tried to keep people and jobs out of the region, Caltrain shows that the system can help handle the needs of a growing region.
Caltrain’s success will be replicated by high speed rail. Even though commuters will make up a smaller proportion of its riders, there’s every reason to believe that younger riders and those who make good money will choose it over driving or flying. Similarly, HSR done right – i.e. with low fares designed to maximize ridership rather than profit – will attract riders of all incomes and ages.
Ultimately, this shows that two tracks won’t be sufficient for travel needs on the Peninsula. The NIMBYs won’t like it, but the corridor needs four tracks, and can easily accommodate them.