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Rail News: Passenger Rail

Caltrain's ridership rose to record height, but on-time performance dipped in September


Helped by an improving economy and special events, such as the San Francisco Giants' trip to Major League Baseball's World Series, Caltrain posted an all-time high average weekday ridership in September.

Caltrain served an average of 50,821 riders in September, the second consecutive month that the average exceeded 50,000, agency officials said in a prepared statement.

Shuttle ridership jumped by 52 percent to 10,247 riders. The shuttles provide a last-mile connection for rail commuters to reach places of employment off the rail system. Continuing growth in shuttle use is an indication of regional job growth and a rebounding economy, Caltrain officials said.

Special event service was capped off by a record-breaking day for transit usage through the San Francisco Bay area when Giants fans headed to the World Series championship parade on Oct. 31. That day, Caltrain carried more 88,000 riders, besting the previous record of 80,000 set in 2010 during the Giants' parade after it won that year's World Series.

The ridership growth did present some challenges for the aging rail system, however. On-time performance dropped during the month, when a series of signal malfunctions, mechanical problems and issues "beyond the agency's control"  caused a decline in performance, Caltrain officials said.

"Additional minor delays due to the heavy ridership throughout the system compound these other performance issues," they said. "Caltrain is working closely with its contractor, TASI [TransitAmerica Services Inc.], to recover service more quickly following these events and reduce the impacts to riders."

Contact Progressive Railroading editorial staff.

More News from 11/5/2012