Starting Monday, April 16, Caltrain will launch a five week pilot program that is designed to make boarding go faster and more smoothly.

“Bikes Board First”, designed by Caltrain in conjunction with bicycle advocacy groups and its Bicycle Advisory Committee, has a simple goal; 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.

Bikes Board First Pilot

Mountain View, Palo Alto, Redwood City

Northbound Trains ONLY

Monday – Friday, 6 AM to 9 AM.

Caltrain staff has found that 66 percent 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. If the results are positive, riders can expect to see this policy rolled out throughout the Caltrain line.

With around 6,000 riders with bicycles riding Caltrain every weekday, more than any other rail system in the country, it is imperative that we find the best way available to board those riders. Your flexibility is appreciated, and will help to make sure everyone can get where they’re going on time.


About Caltrain: Owned and operated by the Peninsula Corridor Joint Powers Board, Caltrain provides commuter rail service from San Francisco to San Jose, with limited commute service to Gilroy. Caltrain enjoyed more than five years of consecutive monthly ridership increases, surpassing more than 65,000 average weekday riders. While the Joint Powers Board assumed operating responsibilities for the service in 1992, the railroad celebrated 150 years of continuous passenger service in 2014. Planning for the next 150 years of Peninsula rail service, Caltrain is on pace to electrify the system, reduce diesel emissions by 97 percent by 2040 and add more service to more stations.

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  1. This is a really great idea. Please also put larger “BIKE CAR” signs on the bike cars so these cars are easy to identify.

  2. A good step! Also would it help to put “zones” within the bike racks, so that everyone going to SF 4th and King for instance could put their bikes on one end, and people going to closer destinations would clear out closer.

  3. I have a BETTER and SIMPLER idea for bike car timeliness on northbound trains (at least for galley-style cars). It is this: the vestibule rail divider on the northbound side needs to be re-installed so that the wide side is on the bike side of the car, and the narrow side is on the pedestrian side. This is how the south-side boarding is, and there are fewer problems with timeliness. It allows bikes and peds to board simultaneously without cross traffic (since most bikes don’t fit through the narrower opening), self-solving the problem of congestion. Please implement this, it is an easy fix and doesn’t require conductor attention or additional signage.

  4. This is a great idea, however it’s not being implemented. I board northbound at Palo Alto between 3:30-6 five days a week M-F. I have not seen a single Caltrain staff member enforcing the policy. Nor have I have I seen boarding times being recorded. The only evidence of this pilot on the ground is one double sided sign announcing it. Has implementation been delayed?

    • Hey Raymond, as stated in the blog, the program details are:

      Stations: Mountain View, Palo Alto, Redwood City

      Platform: Northbound Trains ONLY

      Time: Monday – Friday, 6 AM to 9 AM.

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