Beginning next week Caltrain will launch a five week pilot program that hopes to make boarding go faster and more smoothly.

Titled “Bikes Board First,” the project aims to do exactly that; allow bicyclists to board bike cars first at the Mountain View, Palo Alto, and Redwood City stations. Caltrain staff will be on hand at those stations to enforce the policy, which would prevent bicyclists from having to navigate through a crowd of riders blocking the entrance. These boardings will be timed and compared to the standard boarding process to determine if this new approach could make overall Caltrain service more efficient.

Caltrain staff has found that 66% of delays result from issues with passengers, with a substantial amount of which pertaining to bikes boarding. In December 2017, issues related to bike boarding resulted in 1,352 minutes of delays. If successful, this program could increase on-time performance and increase the efficiency of service throughout the system.

The findings of this pilot, which was crafted with input from the Caltrain Bicycle Advisory Committee and bicycle advocacy groups, will be presented at the May meeting of the BAC. BAC Chair Dan Provence is optimistic about the pilot, stating “Caltrain carries 6,000 people with bikes every weekday. A system that allows for faster and easier bike boarding will greatly benefit everyone who rides Caltrain, which in turn benefits every commuter on the Peninsula.”

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