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Why the Millbrae station is failing

I read an article in the Palo Alto Daily News awhile back about how the Millbrae BART/Caltrain station isn't doing as well as planned. Let me elucidate my reasons for why I think it sucks with an example. I have aligned the schedules for the two systems side-by-side for riding into San Francisco in the afternoon/evening. As a reminder, you ride the Caltrain to the Millbrae station, and then switch over to the BART to ride into the city.

BART 5:18 Caltrain 5:20
BART 5:33
BART 5:48 Caltrain 5:50
BART 6:03 Caltrain 6:06
BART 6:18 Caltrain 6:35
BART 6:48 Caltrain 6:45 <- We have a winner!
BART 7:03 Caltrain 7:04

Does anyone else see this as downright malicious?

Comments (8)


Oh, what, you have to run to catch it, or you can wait 15 minutes?

I'd place the bigger complaint that it's not the only connection you have to make most of the time. It's Caltrain to BART to MUNI that's the problem, IMO. Of course, *my* big gripe is really that they don't run the Caltrain on weekends.

Running won't cut it. They actually time it so that you can see the BART pulling out of the station, just as the Caltrain is pulling in (but before they've opened the doors).

And if you hung out in the Mission you wouldn't *have* to make the MUNI connection!


The no Caltrain on weekends is understandable, as the bullet train will be a significant improvement to the service. Also, there is a bus that leaves Palo Alto that is just as fast as the train would be on a weekend, and actually stops a lot less than the train would.

But going back to the schedules I posted. Look at the times for the BART and Caltrain. There appears to be actual intent in making this schedule bad. Four out of the seven trains leave two-to-three minutes before the Caltrain. All but one is at least 12 minutes after a Caltrain arrival. The mode gap between the BARTs is 15 minutes, which means that at 12 minutes waiting time, they are only 3 minutes away from pessimal levels of performance.


Could be. I'm guessing the reason that you see the BART leaving when the Caltrain (scheduled to get you there 3 minutes early) is because of typical scheduling delay?

It does seem pretty crappy, yes. But, my guess is there are other constraints in the schedule that make this not as obvious of a problem. Yeah, your wait time is significant, but still <15minutes. What's the profile for the traveller going to Millbrae? Do most of them immediately get on a BART? Is there another connection schedule someplace that might be tweaking this one? What's the variability of arrival time at Millbrae on Caltrain?

Mass transit in the Bay area does have a ways to go, that's for sure.

As for the buses from Palo Alto - that may be. But I didn't move into an apartment right next to the Palo Alto station. It's not really mass-transit unless it solves problems for enough would-be riders to get them onto the system.


In the morning it's generally timed pretty well. It's nice when you can step off BART and then immediately step onto an arriving Caltrain. BART seems to run a slightly tighter schedule, which might help, but the common case for the northbound Caltrain to BART connection for me has been to wait the 12+ minutes, even when I have taken the 5pm express train. I've even had the experience of taking the Caltrain to Millbrae, and the next Caltrain came before the next BART (~25 min wait).

Berkeley rider:

yes, I hate hate hate the schedule of the CalTrain and Bart

The schedule for BART has change to include more frequent Millbrae trains...


HAAATE caltrain. mostly it just doesn't come often enough, especially since some are express trains that don't stop everywhere. read the schedule wrong the other day, stepped into the bathroom thinking i had 15 mins, ended up an hour late to the meeting i was going to. not the first time caltrain has f*ed me over, even if this time it was my fault.

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