FTA "Core Capacity"
- Light rail / heavy rail capacity is measured by "peak hour person capacity in the peak direction," a measurement that includes standees and is based on floor space.
- Commuter rail capacity is measured by "peak hour peak direction seated load," a measurement that excludes standees and is based solely on seat count.
If you needed any more proof, BART is removing seats to increase capacity!
(In passing, some have blamed the lower seating capacity of the Stadler EMUs on the dual door configuration. A cursory review of proposed seating layouts can retire this fallacy.)
The seating capacity directly counted from the brochure was 573 seats per six-car EMU, although Caltrain's FTA grant application assumes only 558, averaging just 93 seats per car.
|Detail of Existing Operations||Commuter Rail|
|Train #||Train Line Reference
|Departure Time||Number of Cars||Seats per Car||Seats Per Train|
|Total||During the Peak Hour||3,403|
|Detail of Operations At Project Opening||Commuter Rail|
|Train #||Line Reference||Departure Time||Number of Cars||Seats per Car||Seats Per Train|
|Total||During the Peak Hour||3,768|
How to solve the FTA seating equation
To meet the FTA requirements without question, and to shoo those vultures away, here are some solutions Caltrain could reasonably pursue:
- Build the train cars 3.2 meters wide with five-abreast seating on the upper deck (the lower deck would remain four-abreast with a wider aisle). A car width of 3.2 meters is within the AAR Plate F loading gauge that is cleared to operate on the peninsula corridor, and is a common width in East Coast commuter railroads (the LIRR M7, the Metro North M8, and the SEPTA Silverliner V are all 3.2 meters wide with sections of five-abreast seating). Why Caltrain hasn't already pursued this is baffling, because it is a low-cost and high-benefit change regardless of FTA rules. The Stadler KISS EMU that Caltrain ordered has previously been delivered in widths up to 3.4 meters. This design change is worth +64 seats per six-car EMU, or +256 seats/peak hour, or +7.5% core capacity.
- Increase the size of the initial EMU order. This is a tough sell, given how hard it has been to fund the modernization project, but the relative cost increment is minor when considered in proportion to the entire budget. The Stadler contract already includes an additional 96 cars under a fixed-price option, 32 of which (one third) could be exercised to make all 16 of the EMUs on order eight cars long. The incremental cost would be another $130M (one third of $390M, or less than 7% of the entire value of the PCEP project), and the seating capacity would go up by +186 seats per EMU, or +744 seats/peak hour, or +21.9% core capacity. That's right: for an extra 7% cost you can triple the capacity increase.
- Both measures applied together would increase seating capacity by +272 seats per EMU, or +1088 seats/peak hour, or +32% core capacity (over and above the +10.7% capacity increase in Caltrain's FTA application).