*San Bruno Grade Separation Update
Good news! San Bruno & Huntington Ave street closure is over. It was closed on 20 September for massive construction that included lowering the grade under the San Bruno elevated railway section to accommodate more trucks. It was supposed to open on 30 Sept at 0500 but alas did not happen. So it was extended to Thursday at 8:00 p.m. And now the detour around that area is over. Huntington between Euclid and San Bruno Avenue has been nearly restored to its prior condition. When they began construction, the east side was closed except for construction traffic. That meant the west side, normally two lanes for southbound traffic, was converted into a two lane traffic zone for north and south traffic. It made driving difficult at times. Buses and other traffic that had to turn north from San Bruno onto Huntington had a difficult time. It was a tight turn to negotiate for buses. With one northbound lane now restored, it alleviates a traffic problem at the intersection.
Even better is that now the tracks are elevated, there is zero chance of a vehicle being stuck on the rails in that area. During construction there were two serious accidents. One involved a tractor trailer at Angus (to big and got stuck on the tracks) and the other at San Bruno Ave where someone abandoned a car on the track. A third minor one involved a car that got grazed by a train when it was just a little over that line (those lines are there for a purpose folks). Amazingly the car was driven away and found later by police at Bayhill shopping center.
For walkers though, the sidewalk in front of the old bank at Huntington & San Bruno is closed. You will need to detour to one of the crosswalks near Mills or Easton to cross over.
*Clipper Issue/Reminder About Tagging On & Off
Recently I had a small problem with Clipper. I tagged on in San Francisco and off at San Bruno station. But when I checked my account a few days later, I was charged to full amount rather than deducting a ride from my 8 Ride ticket. I emailed Clipper and they investigated the issue. They did refund the money but did deduct the fare (discounted for an 8-Ride ticket)from San Francisco to San Bruno since my 8 Ride Ticket by that time had expired. The problem was a rare one where the Clipper terminal was not properly sending the information. So always check your balance when paying with cash or by 8 Ride Ticket. Otherwise you might get a nasty surprise the next time you tag on.
Now about what happens if you forget to tag on or off. If you board the train in San Francisco or San Jose, chances are the conductors will check at the gate and turn you around to tag at the Clipper terminal. However if you do forget to tag on and the conductor aboard the train checks your card, simply put you are doomed. Conductors will issue a citation for fare evasion and you have to go to court. I think the fine is $380 (that includes court fees) but it could be more by now. Ignorance is no defense here since Caltrain has signs all over the place and conductors reminding everyone to tag on and off.
If you forget to tag off at your destination, Caltrain will assess the maximum one way ticket fare $12.75 and deduct it from the cash purse on your card. So remember to tag off when you get off the train. Otherwise if the cash balance on your card dips below $1.25, you cannot use it until you load cash. What happens if you do not have enough money on your card to pay the fare? What happens is you cannot use that card until you load cash and pay the negative balance on it. Remember except at San Francisco and San Jose stations, you cannot add cash to your Clipper card. Either go to Walgreens, a Clipper service center, call them up, or pay on the Internet.
*Important 8-Ride Ticket Reminders
-Cannot be used for zone upgrade. When you tag off, the cash needed for the extra zones traveled will be deducted.
-No all zones on weekends or holidays.
-Has a time limit of 30 days and then they go poof if not used.
-Can buy monthly parking permit.
-Must tag on at start of trip and at final destination. If you fail to tag off, you pay the maximum ticket of $12.75
If a BART strike does occur, service to BART stations by SamTrans will be temporarily discontinued. This will effect Daly City, Colma, South San Francisco, San Bruno and Millbrae BART stations. So check with SamTrans or ask the bus driver for where the temporary stop is located if you using a bus that normally does go to a BART station. Caltrain has no plans to add extra trains as of yet, but expect some early morning commute trains to be even more packed when they depart Millbrae. Important tip: Express trains are almost always full (people standing in aisles), limiteds may be full (but not with people standing in aisles), and locals are generally have more seats available (they take longest to get to San Francisco). Plan accordingly. Bicyclists will likely have it even more tough when every seat and more is taken up.
Caltrain Sauna Effect
We have been having a some really warm weather. Sadly not all Caltrain cars have that air conditioning working right. One car I entered was warm enough for a sauna. Yikes! And the smell was pretty ripe as well.
Doors Do Not Lock Themselves
It is interesting to watch at San Francisco station (4th & King) as to who locks doors and who does not. Now usually the doors to tracks are locked when there is no need for them to be unlocked. And there is a security guard who does check. Sometimes the conductors will lock one side of the doors (the ones that will be open for the next departing train) and leave the opposite ones unlocked. And they clearly know this since I observe conductors go in and out of those doors as they get food or do other things. And train drivers are the worst. If a door is locked, they check the nearby ones. And then they walk to other ones nearby. Only if they cannot find one unlocked (or time is an issue), then they finally produce a key. But they rarely lock the door behind them (1-5 I observed locked and unlocked). They tell us to be observant about packages but if the conductors and drivers seem not to take much care in securing areas, it is no wonder why TSA wants to increase its presence in the railroad area. They might have to consider self locking doors that are always locked unless you insert a key and open it, and then lock when put back into place.