Caltrain commuters accustomed to facing long delays without warning will finally be able to check ahead and see if their train is running on schedule.
Caltrain officials said this week they have reached a deal with a private vendor to install global positioning system trackers in their locomotives, and use the sensors to provide real-time delay information to riders.
The expected arrival times of trains will appear at existing electronic signs at all station platforms from San Francisco to San Jose, on 511.org and by calling 511. The project should allow riders to determine ahead of time whether they should instead drive or take comparable routes such as BART north of Millbrae or Valley Transportation Authority light rail south of Palo Alto.
The project will cost $1.8 million and is part of Caltrain’s $8.7 million initiative to install a new rail operations control system. The agency’s board of directors is expected to approve the contract Thursday, though it is unknown when the system will start running.
Caltrain’s roughly 40,000 average weekday riders have grown frustrated over lack of access to official real-time delay information. Fed up, they took matters into their own hands in May 2008 by launching a Twitter feed with delay information that has attracted roughly 3,000 followers.
In the meantime, the Twitter feed is useful.