Public transit has faced a surge in ridership since consumers reacted to rising gas prices, and bike sales have risen in tandem for the same reason. This is all good news, of course, but combined, these changes have created new challenges for leaders in the public transit industry. Not only are there more passengers riding transit, more people are bringing their bikes aboard, which is causing a crunch for space on crowded trains and buses.
On Caltrain, the leg of the Bay Area’s Rapid Transit system (BART) that runs from San Jose to San Francisco, transit officials are struggling to resolve increased ridership and more crowded trains with the issue of bringing bicycles aboard. Previously, Caltrain had been progressive in welcoming cyclists and had even designated “bike cars” to accommodate them. The agency even removed seating to create space for bicycles. Now, however, Caltrain must find the means to make room for everyone.
Now, some cyclists are being shunned from crowded trains. "We have a very liberal policy, and we have done a lot to accommodate cyclists," Christine Dunn, a Caltrain spokeswoman, told the L.A. Times Bottleneck Blog. "But I think we’ve been victims of our own success."
Dunn told the L.A. Times that Caltrain isn’t interested in expanding or adding more bike cars because bicycles merely take up extra room—without paying extra fare. A surcharge for bikes, she said, is an unattractive option. The preferable plan, according to Caltrain, is one that would encourage cyclists to have two bikes: one they leave at each station for their departure and arrival. (Hello, bike sharing.)
Currently, Caltrain, which has an average of 41,890 passengers on weekdays, is struggling to make ends meet. "Like every other transit agency, we’re all about trying to break even and we’re not doing that," Dunn told the Times. "We’re essentially losing money every time a bike rider gets on board with the bike."
Photo via flickr by vandys.
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