Capitol Corridor

The Capitol Corridor (CC) commuter train makes daily runs between Auburn, east of Sacramento, to the San Francisco Bay Area and San Jose. The CC is operated by the Capitol Corridor Joint Powers Authority (CCJPA), a partnership among six local transportation agencies to share in the management of the CC. The CCJPA partners with Amtrak to provide service to 17 stations along a 170-mile rail corridor. The CC is quite popular, with ridership currently running at nearly 1.5 million per year. July of this year saw 161,000 passengers on the CC; a new record and a 33% increase from last year.

I’m fortunate enough to live within 5 miles of a CC station and I take full advantage by riding the train to work 4 days a week. My current routine is to ride my bike 5 miles to the train station, store my bike in a City bike locker, take the train into downtown Sacramento, then walk the 5 blocks to my office on the other end.

Most of the CC train cars have a bike rack that holds 3 bikes, and often (but not always) the last car is a baggage car. The baggage car can accommodate approximately 12 bikes. With such a dramatic increase in ridership this year, there were days when every rack on the train was full and bikes were overflowing into the passenger areas. I’m guessing on those days there were at least 25-30 bikes on the train.

The above photo is of the baggage/bike area. Eight bikes can be stored on the racks in the photo, with 3 more racks behind and out of view of the camera. As you can see, bike ridership was light today. This will be my first winter riding the CC; it will be interesting to see if bike ridership drops off as the weather gets cooler and the days get shorter.

In my experience, the conductors on the CC have been very accommodating to cyclists. I’ve seen them go out of their way to help recumbent riders store their bikes, and I’ve even had a conductor—who happens to be a Brompton rider—show me all of the places to stash a folded Brompton on the train.

I feel fortunate to have access to the Capitol Corridor; it’s relatively fast and efficient, and it’s far more comfortable and accommodating to cyclists than the commuter bus alternatives in the area.

Capitol Corridor Website

5 Responses to “Capitol Corridor”

  • Fritz says:

    Even when the bike storage is full you can still get on the Amtrak train? That’s not always the case on Caltrain.

  • Alan says:

    It’s at the discretion of the conductor on duty, but I’ve never seen a bike turned away, and I frequently see bikes stacked in aisles and between seats.

  • Geoff says:

    Bikes stacked in aisles and between seats, as mentioned above, probably would be a violation of Amtrak’s own regulations…and be viewed as a rather severe violation of state and Federal DOT safety regulations that may govern operations of this train system. It may only be a matter of time before some gummint ‘inspector’, or a passenger injured by a bike rider maneuvering his equipment on a moving train, blows the whistle on this (oooo, sorry for that pun) and stops the cordiality of the nice conductors. It’s laudable that they are providing such excellent accommodation for bikers, but in view of the terrific increase in ridership (generally) and the potential for carrying more ‘mixed-mode’ riders using bicycles for transit to/from homes and offices at each end of their trip, wouldn’t it be preferable to add additional cars specifically designed to carry a mixed cargo of bikes and seated passengers in the same car…and disperse them throughout the train (rather than making them the last cars and forcing people to run the full length of the train to retrieve equipment at each station)?

  • Alan says:

    Hi Geoff,

    I should have clarified, when bikes are stored in passenger areas, passengers are not allowed to sit in those areas.

    There are 3 bike racks in every car other than the cafeteria car; it’s only the baggage car that has room for 12. All of the cars, including the baggage car, are double-decked; riders that store their bikes downstairs, ride upstairs in the same car, just like the majority of other passengers. There’s no need to be seated in a car other than the one that contains your bike.

    In my opinion, we do need more cars in the system, but I’ve been told it takes three years from date of order to delivery, so they’re just plugging holes at this point, trying to keep up with the flood of new riders.

    Alan

  • Fritz says:

    This may interest Geoff — some (most?) Caltrain customers were until very recently pretty flexible on the number of bikes they let us cram on board. I’ve seen up to 30 bikes jammed into the Bombardier cars (with 16 bike capacity) and the Gallery cars (officially 32 bike capacity) can carry over 40 bikes.

    But then a _cyclist_ complained about this inconsistency, so Caltrain sent a memo to the conductors to strictly enforce the official bike limits, thankyouverymuch. This is according to a conductor.

    I agree with Geoff that spreading the load among all cars might work better. Doesn’t the ACE train do it like this?

 
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