Thursday, October 16, 2008

Caltrain's bogus photography ban

While I was getting bumped from Caltrain three times last night, I talked to Shirley Johnson, who has been leading the "Bikes on Board" movement to get Caltrain to increase capacity. If Caltrain were regularly running trains filled with walk-on passengers, I could understand their resistance. In reality, however, Caltrain runs trains with half-empty cars for walk on passengers and full bike cars.

Shirley told me that when she tries to document this discrepancy, conductors have been telling her that she cannot take photos on Caltrain. This is a transparent effort on the part of the conductors (directed, I assume, by Caltrain middle management) to suppress free speech by activist cyclists. I mean, it's not like they're preventing tourists from taking photos of stations and rolling stock. Caltrain should clarify its policy on photography. If, as I suspect, there is no such ban, they should not invent one on the fly to suppress free speech. Nevertheless, if there is a ban, the conductors should enforce it consistently. They should not invoke the policy selectively when cycling activists take photos that illustrate a reality they don't like to admit.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Bumped from Caltrain three times tonight

Dear Caltrain Customer Service,

I am a regular cycle commuter who has been riding Caltrain regularly since 1998. As a daily commuter, I spend over $1000 in Caltrain fares. [EDIT: that should be $1000/year.] Tonight I was "bumped" (denied boarding) from Caltrain bike cars three times, on trains 267, 271, and 275. I was finally allowed to board 277, along with four other cyclists, although several cyclists were bumped from that train as well.

Because of the one hour delay, I was unavailable to care for my children this evening while my spouse ran necessary errands. In compensation for this delay, please provide me with a free Caltrain ticket.

Caltrain regularly runs trains with full bike cars but many empty seats for walk-on passengers. Specifically, trains 267 and 271, among others, are regularly filled with bikes but have plenty of space for walk-on customers. Please provide more space for cyclists during commute hours by running trains with 64, rather than 32 or 16, spaces on high bike traffic runs.

John Markos O'Neill