Why can't I get a seat on the 5:58 out of Mountain View since the weekend?
March 11, 2008 7:30 PM   Subscribe

Has Caltrain been noticeably more crowded since yesterday? If so, why?

I guess this is kind of chatfilter since there probably isn't one single answer, but I'm hoping that the Bay Area population on MeFi can answer a question for me that I've heard posed by friends and strangers alike while on the train in the past two days. Yesterday and today have been the most crowded I've ever seen the train (since 2005 I've probably commuted by Caltrain regularly for about 13 months in aggregate, mostly during the intern-heavy summers). Like, the 324 coming into Palo Alto yesterday morning was like a car full of clowns. People just kept coming off. And some people I overheard on my evening commute said they couldn't get a seat, period, this morning. This probably came up because the platform I was waiting on was as full as I've ever seen it.

I'm thinking that it's probably some combination of ever-higher gas prices and possibly the 2 new evening trains they added last week. However, I'd be interested to hear your theories. Do you work at a big company that just started offering commute incentives? Are they demolishing a parking lot someplace? Or, since I don't drive I don't pay attention to gas costs at all; did they jump dramatically in the Bay over the weekend?

Alternately, this could be confirmation bias. If you ride the train and don't think it's been more crowded, feel free to tell me I'm crazy. Two days is a short sample time, I agree, so it could just be coincidence.

This is southbound in the morning, by the way, so we're going against the typical peninsula commute.
posted by crinklebat to Travel & Transportation (9 answers total)
Best answer: A shot in the dark: Daylight Savings Time makes the trip home by train more attractive?
posted by SPrintF at 7:33 PM on March 11, 2008

Could yesterday's train crash in MArtinez have anything to do with it?
posted by buggzzee23 at 7:52 PM on March 11, 2008

The wreck was Sunday
posted by buggzzee23 at 7:55 PM on March 11, 2008

You are leaving out an important bit of info: what time do you take the trains?

I noticed the trains this morning were the least crowded I've ever seen them. The bullet that left SF at 8:14am for example. Empty.
posted by vacapinta at 8:02 PM on March 11, 2008

Without more information and based on our contradictory observations:

I think SprintF is right. DST altered everyone's natural schedules. So, some trains became more crowded, others less so. But overall ridership was probably the same.
posted by vacapinta at 8:14 PM on March 11, 2008

Response by poster: I take the train that hits Palo Alto at 8:51am, and the one that leaves MTV at 5:58pm. I think that Daylight Savings Time is probably it.
posted by crinklebat at 8:50 PM on March 11, 2008

I've noticed this as well - but as a driver. My commute (280S from SF to Menlo Park) has noticeably traffic-lite in the last couple of days. It's awesome.
posted by rtha at 9:27 PM on March 11, 2008

FWIW I've noticed that some of the afternoon/evening trains northbound out of MV have been only four cars rather than the usual five. These particular trains have seemed more crowded. Also, the Menlo Park 7:58 AM southbound has seemed especially crowded, although it has been five cars lately.

It has also seemed that the southbound morning trains have been late rather more often than usual, by at least 5-6 minutes.
posted by metabeing at 7:56 AM on March 12, 2008

A co-worker pointed out to me this morning that it might be spring break for San Mateo and Santa Clara schools. This might explain why there are fewer cars on the road, but I don't get why trains would be more crowded.
posted by rtha at 9:53 AM on March 12, 2008

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