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Caltrain PacBell Park buses rolling nearly empty

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  • 9/3 San Mateo Independent
    Published Tuesday, September 3, 2002, in the San Mateo Independent Caltrain baseball buses rolling empty PacBell Park service may be cut back due to low
    Message 1 of 1 , Sep 3, 2002
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      Published Tuesday, September 3, 2002, in the San Mateo Independent

      Caltrain baseball buses rolling empty
      PacBell Park service may be cut back due to low ridership

      By Sara Zaske
      Independent Newspapers

      SAN CARLOS -- While they love the train, Peninsula baseball fans do not
      like the bus.

      When Caltrain shut down on the weekends for the "Baby Bullet" track
      construction, it rolled out the buses to pick up baseball fans who
      normally crowded the trains. Yet only 500 people, one-fifth of the usual
      2,500 baseball train riders, boarded the special "BB" bus service.
      Consequently, some of the buses may have to be benched.

      "We didn't get the ridership we thought we would. We anticipated 100
      percent of baseball riders would translate into buses and. that just
      didn't happen," said Jayme Maltbie, spokesperson for Caltrain.

      As expected, the PacBell parking lots are more crowded, but PacBell
      Transportation Manager Alfonso Felder attributes most of that to
      construction closing nearby private lots instead of the lack of train
      service.

      Caltrain will be shut down on the weekends for the next two years as
      workers lay passing tracks for express train service, the so-called Baby
      Bullet.

      At the recommendation of its Citizens Advisory Committee, the Caltrain
      board decided not to leave rail riders high and dry during the shutdown
      and offered a bus bridge for regular and baseball rail riders on the
      weekends.

      The RRX, the bus service for regular rail riders, starts in San Jose and
      makes two stops, one at Palo Alto and one at San Mateo's Hillsdale station
      on its way to San Francisco. The RRX buses see approximately 30 percent of
      the normal weekend rail ridership. Caltrain, officials expected the low
      RRX percentage. The low baseball numbers were somewhat of a surprise.

      For years, SamTrans' regular bus service to 49er games at Candlestick has
      seen a large ridership. For each game in the 2001 season, approximately
      3,000 to 5,000 football fans boarded the bus.

      The football bus service is more established than the new baseball weekend
      bus service, explained Maltbie. Caltrain officials speculate that a number
      of factors are contributing to the low baseball bus turnout, including
      decreased baseball attendance in general because of the low economy.

      There is also a stigma against taking the bus, because people think it
      will be slow, which Maltbie said is not the case. "It is a lot faster than
      people think because the bus service has limited stops. It picks you up
      and takes you home. You will not be trapped on the bus for hours and
      hours," she said.

      On the weekends, Caltrain runs three separate "BB" routes, originating at
      Hayward Park, Palo Alto and San Jose stations with limited stops. SamTrans
      and Caltrain worked diligently to schedule the weekend service. Planners
      actually drove the routes to make sure the buses would arrive on time.
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