Monday, December 8, 2008

Two Caltrain things

Two quick (HA! You know these are never quick) Caltrain things.

See that car in there with all the shuttle buses? This is the shuttle bus loading area. There is a large sign that says "Shuttle Buses Only" at the entrance. This woman either missed the sign or, more likely, figured nobody would notice her as she pulled in.

Driving a car into the shuttle bus area is like the captain of the chess club wandering into a football practice to complain about the noise - it isn't going to go well. Most of the shuttle bus drivers just pointed and laughed as the woman tried to get the shuttles to move out of her way so she could get out - they were all waiting for a train that wasn't due to arrive for another ten minutes or so. She managed to get the guy behind her to try to move out of the way so she could back out, but more shuttles arrived and it quickly became hopeless.

I feel a bit bad that I enjoyed this a lot.

Tonight at the station, the crossing gates came down because the northbound train was pulling in. These gates are about 20 feet in front of where the train actually stops, so theoretically you could duck under the gates and stand on the rails and be perfectly safe.

It is annoying to have to stand and wait for these crossing gates in that situation, especially when you really want to get onto that train but you are on the wrong side of the tracks. But experience has shown me that if you wait, the arms will raise and you will have enough time to cross and get on the train because it takes so long for all the bicycles to get loaded.

Two teenage girls decided not to wait - they ducked under the gates and ran across the tracks. Well, one of them did - the other tripped on the southbound rails and fell across the tracks. The southbound tracks. They were completely focused on the northbound train and had not even looked to see if a southbound train was coming.

There wasn't a southbound train coming, the fallen girl got up and finished running across the tracks, and the northbound train coasted to its normal stop, blaring its horn.

It was all no big deal in the end, but it makes it easy to see how so many people end up being crash test dummies for Caltrain.

It's a bit crazy.

That's it - move along...


briteblackness said...

I have seen people denied passage on a train for making that move (minus the fall) and have always felt kind of torn between sorry for them. I know I would be very *&%$@# mad if it was me. On the other hand it was always teens that were getting denied and I was happy to see them learning a hard lesson.

notthatlucas said...

bb - actually, being denied boarding is Caltrain being generous - they could get an almost $300 fine. They probably would get the fine if the trains didn't have to keep on schedule.

I've seen people denied boarding when they ride their bikes on the platform as well.

The thing is, the crossing gates need to be more efficient. Some of them are extremely slow to respond to a train stopping or passing - there is one at the Menlo Park station that stays down for much longer than the ones further down the track, and this frustrates people and leads to more people jumping them.