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Monday, October 13, 2008

Amtrak's Capitol Corridor adds bicycle capacity

Image of bicycle rack on Amtrak Capitol Corridor
Interesting discovery on my ride home this evening on the Amtrak Capitol Corridor. The car I was on had a new bicycle rack, with space for seven bikes. Six passenger seats had been removed to install the racks.

I use the Capitol Corridor daily, bicycling less than a mile to the Sacramento Valley Station, taking the train 16 miles to Davis, and bicycling 1.5 miles to my office at UC Davis. (Most days I bicycle home, about 17 miles.)

The Capitol Corridor has attracted record ridership the past few months, including more bicyclists squeezing into the existing on-board bicycle storage space. When the three vertical spaces in most standard cars have been full, the conductors have indulged overflow bicycles, a special problem on the commute-hour trains between Sacramento and Davis. This crowding prompted me to buy a Giant Halfway folding bike, in anticipation of eventual Caltrain-style bicyclist bumping when on-board capacity limits are reached.

The Capitol Corridor is an outstanding service for multimodal bike commuters. From the Capitol Corridor website: "Bicycles are welcome aboard Capitol Corridor trains. You can find bicycle racks on the lower level of most coach cars. If all racks are full, notify the conductor. The conductor will identify a place for you to safely secure your bike. Please carry a bungee cord with you, to use in securing your bike."

Many of the bicyclists bringing their bikes on-board the Capitol Corridor might prefer not to. Secure bicycle parking is sadly lacking at most Capitol Corridor stations. BikeStation style bike parking facilities would certainly attract many bicyclists, especially in Sacramento, San Jose, and Oakland.

As gas prices trend higher in the long-term, more multimodal bicycle commuters will be crowding on board transit. It's great to see some innovative thinking to expand capacity.

Images: Paul Dorn
Visit: Have your bike and ride it, too, Mother Earth News
Visit: Loading bike on train requires feat of strength, Arizona Republic
Visit: Bikes crowding onto transit, Bike Commute Tips Blog
Visit: Bikes on Board Amtrak's Capitol Corridor, Bike Commute Tips Blog
Visit: Amtrak Capitol Corridor celebrates 15 years, Bike Commute Tips Blog
Visit: Paul Dorn's Bike Commuting Tips Site


Anonymous said...

That's terrific! I wonder if Amtrak will do that between Portland and Seattle, too?

Danthelawyer said...

This is awesome. I do pretty much the opposite of your commute, riding from Davis to Downtown Sac and taking the train home. I've been noticing a lot of bikes, especially in the last car.

By the way, do you have a recommendation for a commute light? I've been looking at the dinotte 200L. Any advice?

Anonymous said...

Great photo and good to hear! I'm headed that way (sans bike) but will look forward to it in the future

all the best- james...

IgorTheCat said...

Interesting. The San Diego to LA Amtrak corridor uses a different setup. The bikes are hung verticaly, and take up less space. The train I usualy ride (NCTD Coaster) has spaces for two bikes per car, with velcro straps for security. We who ride often get creative -with the help of the ubiquitous bungee cord- in order to get four bikes into the space.

Kevin Love said...

Here in Toronto, the regional commuter trains are an extremely convenient way of doing multi-modal transportation. They even provide power points to recharge electric bicycles. More information at:

During peak hours whilst travelling the "wrong" way, the government wants people to use folding bicycles. There is a folding bicycle etiquette page at:

Yes, only in Canada does the government prescribe etiquette rather than regulations. But it works.

Jym said...

=v= Could you find out the model of the train and the number of cars that have the parking (the vertical and/or horizontal)? Dull wonky stuff for sure, but some of us are trying to help Caltrain work this stuff out.

MELI. said...

this is great!
if bart looked like this, I might actually begin to ride it again. til then ill stick with transbay buses instead.

Anonymous said...

wow, looks so cool!