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Caltrain cuts back on schedule as construction starts

In an effort to accomodate electrification work, Caltrain will modify its usual weekday trains schedule starting March 14. The Baby Bullet, an express service that runs between San Jose and San Francisco, will not operate regularly until April. 

Glenn Hendricks, the Santa Clara county representative on the Caltrain Board of Directors said Caltrain officials  have discussed two schedule changes. The first one is increasing the number of trains to 112 per day by the end of the pandemic. 

“But right now, the priority is the second change concerning the transition from diesel trains to electric trains (as it) requires installation for the poles and overhead electrical lines along with work on crossings and control systems,” Hendricks said.

In order to make space on the track for where this work can be done throughout the week, temporary changes were made to train schedules.

While the Caltrain Board of Directors makes policy and gives financial and long-term vision direction, it lacks operational authority. Hendricks said he and the other representatives on the board work together to define the budget policies and direction for how Caltrain should move forward, especially during the pandemic. 

AP Environmental Science teacher Nicole Loomis said limiting access to public transportation during the transition to electrification will likely mean more cars on the road, which can increase air pollutants such as volatile organic compounds, hydrocarbons and nitrogen oxides, which dangerously combine with UV rays from the sun.

“This can lead to production of secondary pollutants in the afternoon, such as photochemical smog and tropospheric ozone –– at least it’s not a permanent change,” Loomis said. 

Sophomore Esther Chung said that the schedule shift would mildly affect her as she usually travels with her sister and friends to San Francisco or closer places like Redwood City –– It not only gives her a sense of freedom, but it also saves her parents time. 

“I normally take the train on the weekends and find that it is an efficient way of transportation, especially if you cannot drive,” she said. 

Biology teacher Tara Vereyken said she relies on the Caltrain for her commute to and from San Francisco, which is a route that will partially be shut down.

 “Fortunately, the schedule change is not significant enough to disrupt my (daily routine) as the stations that I use are really high volume and are rather consistent,” Vereyken said.

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