Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Tuesday Transit Quiz: Caltrain express, limited, and local runs

I think I'll try to start a "Tuesday Transit Quiz" series here. They're designed in part to test your knowledge of transit systems -- both specifics and in general -- and provide some tips that can be helpful to you.

This initial transit quiz should be fairly easy for any regular user of Caltrain. Here's the scenario:
You're running late at San Jose Diridon Station and missed Caltrain #323 at 7:45 AM. You need to be at San Francisco 4th & King by 9 AM to make your meeting this morning. You glance at the platform assignment sign as you run down the ramp and see these departure times and trains:

* 7:50 AM # 225
* 7:55 AM # 227
* 8:03 AM # 329

You don't have the train schedule memorized so you don't know the San Francisco arrival times for these trains. You're not familiar with Diridon Station so you don't know where the train schedules are posted. When you get to the platform you have about 15 seconds to decide if you should jump on the 7:50 train. Which train do you hop on and why?

I'll post the answer later today as an update to this post. There are two possible good answers, in my opinion. Which train would you pick?


  1. OK, here's my warped answer, as an infrequent and generally inept CalTrain user:
    I'd pick the #329, because my original #323 might have been an express (San Jose to 4th & King in 1:15) and the numbers are the most similar, possibly implying that #329 might also be an express and therefore my best choice. But, this being CalTrain, my perfectly logical answer is almost guaranteed to be wrong ;-)

  2. Bike Boy, you're absolutely correct. #2xx trains are "limited" trains, while all #3xx trains are express trains with only 5 stops between San Jose and 4th & King. The #2xx trains take about 1 hr 20 minutes between SJ and SF, while the Express runs can take less than 60 minutes.

    It turns out in this example that you'd arrive in SF 5 minutes sooner on #225 than on the Express, but if it was me I would also have jumped on the Express if I didn't have time to look at schedules.