Time really does fly, it’s march already. I got a job back in September that required I commute from Santa Clara to San Francisco. The only other alternative besides driving is to take Caltrain. It’s been 6 months and I am ready to share my experience.

The Good

Caltrain is almost always on time unless something really drastic (death on tracks) happens. It is reliable and affordable compared to driving to San Francisco. Trains are reasonably well maintained and conductors are friendly.

Caltrain no longer accepts paper monthly passes and 8-ride tickets. It’s been replaced with Clipper Card. I get my monthly pass order automatically loaded on to the Clipper card and don’t need to tag on and off. No Hassle commute…

The Bad

There is no WiFi on board Caltrain. My commute time is one hour and that means time to surf the web. Even though I have a 4G phone, AT&T’s coverage is spotty in some areas that Caltrain goes through.

Train timings don’t sometimes make sense. In the morning I have to catch Caltrain from Sunnyvale because of timing difference. Not all trains make all stops. Especially the bullet train in the morning from Mountain View that makes very few stops. It is impossible to find parking at mountain view station after 7:40 am.

Caltrain is having major budget crisis which is why they have been contemplating shutting off stations and canceling service on weekends. Final vote is scheduled for April 7 and fare hike is on the table as one of the measures to reduce the budget deficit.

Fingers crossed.

  • Hi Zahid. It was interesting reading about your train experience. I guess going by train in US is not that common compared to flight and cars? Here in Sweden we have a really intense debate about our state owned railways. For several winters in row, hundreds of trains have been cancelled due to heavy snowfall and bad weather. Not to mention all delays!
    I will follow your upcoming thoughts!
    Cheers!