Thanks to the involvement of Gilroy City leadership, Caltrain is updating its south county train schedule to better reflect the needs of the Gilroy community. The new schedule will include three weekday evening trains arriving in Gilroy at 5:37 PM, 6:38 PM, and 7:18 PM. These new evening times reflect extensive input received from South County Caltrain riders and may increase use of the Bay Area commuter train. Morning trains from Gilroy will remain unchanged.
The Cities of Gilroy and Morgan Hill have been advocating for increased Caltrain service for South County commuters for several months. On March 19, 2019, the City of Gilroy sent a letter, signed by Mayor Velasco, to Caltrain requesting additional train service. A letter from the City of Morgan Hill was also sent.
On April 4, 2019, Gilroy City Council Member, Marie Blankley, and Morgan Hill Economic Development Director, Edith Ramirez attended the regular Caltrain Board meeting to present the letters and provide a face to the South County request. These efforts made an impact on the Caltrain Board and gave the South County issue higher significance.
In January 2019, Caltrain put together a plan for short and long term improvements. As a short term improvement, Caltrain offered to review the Gilroy-bound service and make adjustments to the train schedule. To better inform decision making, Caltrain conducted a survey of current South County Caltrain riders on April 23, 2019. 771 responses were received from riders boarding at the six South County stations between Tamien and Gilroy.
The Caltrain annual counts showed that there was very little ridership on the 274 train which is the last train to reach Gilroy at 7:58 PM each weeknight. The April rider survey of ideal PM arrival times to Gilroy showed that the three highest requested times were 5:20, 6:20 and 7:00. To accommodate this request, Caltrain is making preparations to shift one of their three PM trains from the 274 train (which arrives in Gilroy at 7:58 PM) to the 262 train (which will arrive in Gilroy at 6:38 PM). Thus, having the three weekday PM trains arrive in Gilroy at 5:37, 6:38 and 7:18. Implementation of the new schedule is anticipated to take place by October 2019. An extensive outreach effort to make riders aware of the changed scheduled will kick off in the coming months.
Additionally, some of the long term improvements include the addition of a fourth train to Gilroy which will be funded with Measure B funds. Caltrain anticipates the fourth train could be available as soon as 2021. Another long term potential improvement includes a significant increase in bi-directional, all day service in conjunction with California High Speed Rail’s anticipated electrification of the corridor, as described in Caltrain’s 2040 Business Plan long-term vision for the future. More information about the Business Plan can be viewed at www.caltrain2040.org.