Caltrain publishes annual ridership counts for each station, which can be distilled into a single table of historical counts of weekday boardings for each station reaching all the way back to 1992 (download 55kB Excel spreadsheet). This data reveals interesting patterns.
141kB PDF file), where 100% represents each station's average ridership share over the period 1999 - 2003, or the initial size of its slice of the ridership pie back in the pre-bullet days. Following 2004, some slices got bigger, while other slices got smaller. The entire pie also got a bit bigger, although that is not shown in this figure of the proportional trends for each station; ridership has only recently exceeded the 2001 peak. The Baby Bullet Effect has divided stations into two groups: winners and losers. Most of the losers were small and could justifiably be dispensed with. Some were not, and are under-served to this day:
- California Avenue in Palo Alto, 1376 weekday boardings in 2001, down to just 895 at last count
- Lawrence in Santa Clara, 1309 weekday boardings in 2001, down to just 531 in 2011
- Santa Clara, 1124 weekday boardings in 2001, down to just 656 in 2011
- Burlingame, 985 weekday boardings in 2001, down to just 675 in 2011
- Belmont, 892 weekday boardings in 2001, down to just 369 in 2011
- San Bruno, 844 weekday boardings in 2001, down to just 403 in 2011
Planning for the Future
notional electrification timetable and the timetables evaluated in the blended operations analysis, consist of an all-skip-stop service pattern as illustrated at left which "bakes in" the ridership pie slices as they exist today. While the Baby Bullet is slated to be discontinued, its negative impact will live on at the places listed above, which will continue to be served by only two trains per hour (out of six). Stakeholders at those stations should not allow this to happen.
As they plan their future operational concept, it is important that Caltrain base their stopping pattern on raw population and jobs data and not on the highly distorted ridership patterns induced by the Baby Bullet Effect.