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The Rail + Bike Commuter Capital of the Bay Area

28 Jun

Move over, San Francisco. Close, but not quite, Oakland. San Jose has you beat when it comes to flexible commuter train options. “How could this be?” you say. “There’s no BART in San Jose.” True, BART connects many cities in Bay Area: San Francisco, Oakland, Richmond, Fremont, Concord and Pleasanton.

But there are three heavy rail lines and a light rail line that run out of San Jose’s Didiron Station, and all allow bikes on board, something that BART has only been testing during commute hours. And BART doesn’t dedicate space for bicycles, it just allows bikes to ride if space is available (and BART workers aren’t on strike).

Diridon Trains

But the real story isn’t the number of train lines anyway, it’s how many places and how far you and your bike can go from downtown San Jose: San Francisco, Oakland, Gilroy, Stockton and Sacramento, plus frequent bus service to Santa Cruz and light rail that span San Jose from bay to hills. All these trains and buses allow bikes during rush hour and dedicate space just for bikes.

What this means for bike commuters became very obvious one day when I was riding home on the Guadalupe River Trail. Up rolled my buddy Richard of Cyclelicious with another rider. We were all headed to Diridon Station: me to take Caltrain up the Peninsula to Mountain View, Richard to take the Santa Cruz Metro bus over the hills to Scotts Valley, and his friend to take the Amtrak Capitol Corridor to Oakland. Three long distance commutes made more manageable by bikes on board programs on three transit lines radiating from downtown San Jose. Maybe next time we’ll meet a rider headed for the ACE Rail to Livermore or Stockton.

Have you taken a bike on a bus or train before? How far did you go? How convenient was it?

Happy Trails to You

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10 Comments

Posted by on June 28, 2013 in Around Town, Issues & Infrastructure

 

10 responses to “The Rail + Bike Commuter Capital of the Bay Area

  1. Richard Masoner (@cyclelicious)

    June 28, 2013 at 2:43 pm

    Yep, you can go all over from San Jose Diridon Station. There’s also Amtrak Coast Starlight from Seattle to Los Angeles (no roll on bikes, alas); and various Amtrak Thruway buses (again, bikes must be boxed as luggage).

    VTA light rail will take you to exciting destinations like the Santa Teresa Park & Ride and the Alum Rock Park & Ride :-)

    Since you mention the popular bus to Santa Cruz (32 round trips daily!), there’s also the MST 55 bus to Monterey.

     
  2. TinLizzie72

    June 28, 2013 at 4:27 pm

    I’m going to be in Sacramento in Nov for work, so I plan on taking the train to SF. But I won’t have a bike with me. : (

     
    • ladyfleur

      June 28, 2013 at 4:32 pm

      By then there should be bike share in San Francisco so you’ll be able to bike after you get there. Will you take the Amtrak bus or a ferry from Oakland to get to SF?

       
  3. sevencyclist

    June 29, 2013 at 6:50 am

    And you can bike to the airport. Try doing that with SFO (although there is that Bart option)

     
    • ladyfleur

      June 29, 2013 at 8:30 am

      The SJC airport is very accessible from Diridon, provided you know how to approach it. They don’t make it easy to figure out and the web site is downright discouraging. I’ve ridden for flights about a half dozen times and even left my bike overnight a few times with no problems.

      SFO is easier than you think, though. I’ve done it too. From the Millbrae Caltrain/BART station it’s no further than SJC is from Diridon. I took the bullet train from Mountain View, which I think was quicker than driving, parking in long-term parking and taking the shuttle. The tough part is that Millbrae Blvd is not fun on a bike. I took the sidewalk and it worked just fine. And unlike SJC, SFO encourages bikes with signage.

      I’ve written about riding to both. If you’re considering doing it, it’s worth a read.
      SJC: http://ladyfleur.wordpress.com/2012/05/10/leaving-on-a-jet-plane-with-help-from-my-bike/
      SFO: http://ladyfleur.wordpress.com/2012/09/17/planes-trains-buses-bikes-and-feet/

       
      • sevencyclist

        June 29, 2013 at 10:12 am

        Nice. I’ll have to check it out.

         
  4. Matt

    June 29, 2013 at 10:20 am

    There is a free airport shuttle from Caltrain-SantaClara to SJC. But do they not allow bikes on it? (I presume you don’t want to leave your bike at Caltrain-SC)

     
    • ladyfleur

      June 29, 2013 at 10:25 am

      I work right next to the VTA 10 shuttle from Caltrain-SC to airport to VTA Metro station. I’m pretty sure it has a bike rack in front. I definitely think the airport is a safer place to lock bikes than the Caltrain station. Airports have a lot of cameras these days…

       
    • Richard Masoner (@cyclelicious)

      June 29, 2013 at 11:00 am

      There’s a standard SportWorks bike rack on the front of the Airport Flyer buses; two bike capacity. Airport Flyer also loops to 1st Street VTA light rail in San Jose, and it’s free! (unlike BART to SFO or AirBART to OAK).

       
  5. Richard Masoner (@cyclelicious)

    June 29, 2013 at 11:14 am

    And do you all know about the pie-in-the-sky people mover project from Santa Clara Caltran to SJC to 1st Street? VTA and San Jose are investigating the feasibility of a 1.5 mile long tunnel that starts at Santa Clara Caltrain, runs underneath the runways to a stop in Terminal B, and then continues to Metro light rail station on 1st Street.

    http://www.vta.org/2000_measure_a/pdf/projects/san_jose_mineta_airport_people_mover.pdf

    The underground tunnel (shown in red in that link) is one of the proposed alignments. The other two alignments around the ends of the runways would be above ground; if an above ground option is selected, the tram would also serve Terminal A, the rental car garage, and the economy lot.

     

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