IMPORTANT! The Caltrain Joint Powers Board will vote on final electric train layout at its meeting at 10am, Thursday, June 6 at 1250 San Carlos Ave, San Carlos. Caltrain staff is recommending a layout that will encourage bike theft and has fewer bike spaces than trains today. This is a huge step backwards! Take action here. See drawings for better train layouts here.


Caltrain will electrify its line in 2022. The proposed electric trains have less bike capacity than trains today, and bike cars have no fixed seats within view of bikes. Today’s trains have 77 bike spaces per train on average, but Caltrain proposes only 72 bike spaces per electric train.

Our Recommendations

  1. Fixed seats within view of bikes, at least one seat for every two bikes spaces
  2. 84 bike spaces per seven-car electric train or 96 bike spaces per eight-car electric train
  3. 96 bike spaces per seven-car diesel train

Caltrain plans to run a mixed fleet of seven-car electric and seven-car diesel trains with one more train per peak hour in 2022, but this is not nearly enough to meet expected demand. Caltrain needs to run longer trains with more capacity to better serve all its passengers. For details about Caltrain capacity for both seats and bikes, please visit this capacity spreadsheet.

EMU Trains Need Reconfiguration

Caltrain staff’s recommended layout for electric multiple unit (EMU) bike cars is 36 bike spaces in the lower level of the bike car with seven folding seats, three of which are in the same location as wheelchair space.

Most bikes-on-board passengers would have to go upstairs to the mezzanine level or the upper level to find a seat, completely out of view of bicycles. Passengers would not be able to guard against bike theft nor be available to assist in re-stacking bikes according to destination to smooth boarding and exiting. Staff recommends two bike cars for 72 bike spaces per seven-car EMU train, a ratio of 9.4:1. Staff blatantly ignores the ratio of 8:1 unanimously approved by the board in 2015.

We offer an alternative layout, as shown below.

This configuration distributes bikes and seats among four bike cars for faster boarding and exiting. Seats within view of bikes deter bike theft and help keep trains on time. With four bike cars, trains would have 80 bike spaces, a ratio of 8.3:1. Another viable alternative is bikes in every car. More drawings can be found here.

Inadequate Bike Capacity Costs Caltrain Ridership and Revenue

People with bicycles are the only customers denied service (bumped) while everyone else is allowed to board the train. As a result, bike boardings have fallen off while walk-on boardings continue to increase. Inadequate bike capacity cost Caltrain over $3 million in lost ticket revenue in 2018 alone.References can be found in this report.

Community Support

Over 1000 people have signed a petition for more capacity and better bike car layout for electrified Caltrain. Many bikes-on-board passengers have written letters to the editor to express support for bikes on electrified Caltrain.

Send an Email to Caltrain

Do you have a recommendation to improve Caltrain’s bike service? Send an email to Caltrain!

Back to main BIKES ONboard page.