The Capitol Corridor is excited to announce that BikeLink eLockers are now available at 15 of our stations: Auburn, Roseville, Sacramento, Davis, Fairfield-Vacaville, Suisun-Fairfield, Martinez, Richmond (shared with BART), Berkeley, Emeryville, Oakland Jack London, Oakland Coliseum (shared with BART), Hayward, Fremont, and Santa Clara-Great America! Passengers can ride their bike to a station, safely store it, and hop aboard the train.
The BikeLink eLockers are part of the Capitol Corridor Joint Powers Authority’s larger Bicycle Access Plan that was adopted by the CCJPA Board of Directors in February 2013. The plan was developed to meet the ever-increasing demand for bike access to our service and encourage sustainable travel from origin to destination. The station eLocker project is generously funded by a combination of State of California Depart of Transportation and Bay Area Air Quality Management District grants, as well as Capitol Corridor operational funding.
For a fuller picture on why this project is so important, we asked Shirley Qian, Planner for the CCJPA and lead on the eLocker installation project, for details on the project and how bike access on the Capitol Corridor continues to evolve.
What are BikeLink eLockers and how do you use them?
BikeLink is the system of secure electronic bike lockers, called eLockers, that have been installed in many public locations across California, most of them in the San Francisco Bay Area. Users access the lockers electronically with a BikeLink card onto which they preload value and pay a minimal hourly fee (approximately $.05/hour.) The cards can be purchased at some stations, in the Café Car of trains, or through BikeLink by phone, online, or at select BikeLink vendors. Electronic access enables multiple users to use a vacant locker within the same day without compromising security.
How many eLockers are there along the route, and what is the bike capacity of each locker?
There are 184 BikeLink eLockers across all Capitol Corridor stations, including those stations shared with BART at Richmond and Oakland Coliseum. The number of eLockers per station varies. Passengers can check individual station pages on the Capitol Corridor website for how many eLocker are available at each station. Each eLocker holds one bike at a time.
Why is BikeLink an important partner for the Capitol Corridor?
With more riders using bicycles as part of their Capitol Corridor trip, we knew that the demand for onboard bike storage would outpace the existing capacity. Therefore, we looked for alternative solutions to onboard storage, with a focus on providing secure bike storage at stations. BikeLink is an important partner as it provides an expansive network of secure bike storage that spans the Capitol Corridor service route, as well as at important transit connections such as BART. With a BikeLink card, a cyclist can access any BikeLink eLocker. This increases travel flexibility for our cyclists and provides a convenient transfer modality wherever they are along Capitol Corridor.
How long has it taken to equip these stations with eLockers?
The eLocker project started in Fall 2014, and lockers were gradually rolled out at each station through December 2017. Since the CCJPA does not own the stations, we worked with the individual property owners, in most cases local cities, to obtain the necessary permits and licenses. Each station installation required different designs and agreements, and some stations took longer to complete than others. All in all, because of the complexities, the project took longer than expected, but we’re happy to finally wrap up the eLocker project this month with our final installation at the Oakland Jack London station!
NEXT STEPS: MEETING FUTURE GROWTH
How is the Capitol Corridor planning to accommodate more cyclists?
In our 2016 onboard passenger survey, 13.5% of passengers reported either biking to their station of origin or from their destination station. Demand for bicycle access to our service has been on the rise and is only expected to increase. To meet that demand, we’re taking a two-pronged approach: 1) Providing secure bike parking at stations, and 2) Increasing on board bike storage. The eLockers have helped us address the first goal. We’re in the process of tackling the onboard storage issue.
What are your predictions for how Capitol Corridor bicycle ridership might look in the future?
Ideally, we want a passenger who rides their bicycle as part of a Capitol Corridor trip to have flexibility and confidence in knowing there is a safe place for their bike; whether that is on the train or at the station. That means for those who need a bicycle on both ends of their train ride, there would be adequate onboard bike storage. For those who only need their bike at one end of their trip, adequate secure bike storage would be available at either the origin or destination station. In the future, for those who don’t own a bike or who don’t want to bring a bike on their train trip, there would be bike share options or a bike rental service available at their station of origin or destination.
How are we addressing passenger requests for more bike storage onboard? Why can’t there just be more bike cars added?
We are aware that certain trains do not always have sufficient capacity for bikes, and we’re doing our best to remedy that issue. The obvious answer would be to add more bike cars, and that’s generally what people ask for. Unfortunately, there are only so many bike cars in the Capitol Corridor train fleet, and we simply don’t have enough to accommodate all trains that could use more space for bikes. There is a long-term effort to purchase more train cars for the service; however, this will take at least five to ten years due to the lack of manufacturers in the United States who can produce the type of passenger train cars we need. That said, we’re very close to ordering bike storage racks that will increase on board capacity by 33%. We are also currently working with a consultant to design bike storage for some of our baggage cars.
If there won’t be an expansion of bike cars, what can be done to address first- and last-mile transportation for those who want to use bikes?
For those who can’t or don’t want to bring a bike on board the train, we hope first and last mile solutions for bicycles will be provided by bike share or bike rental services. In the Bay Area, there are already Ford GoBike stations near the Berkeley, Emeryville, and San Jose-Diridon stations, and additional locations are in development. Additionally, in the Sacramento area, an electric bike share program, led by Social Bicycles, is planning to launch sometime in 2018.
Separately, the CCJPA is working with a contractor to develop a folding bike rental service that will be available at select Capitol Corridor stations. Stay tuned for updates about that in 2018!