A lot of rain is expected in Santa Clara County this weekend. Transit agencies like the Santa Clara Valley Transportation Authority (VTA) have already made preparations for these storms. Despite these preparations, incidents such as downed trees and flooding may cause delays and rerouting on VTA buses and light rail this weekend.
Traveling on VTA buses, light rail or Caltrain this weekend? Here are some tips to help you travel during these storms this week. These tips are based on experience in riding buses and trains during rainstorms and snowstorms on the East Coast.
- Give yourself extra time from what it normally takes to travel on VTA or Caltrain. This is because buses and trains must run slower than normal to avoid the expected accidents and flooding. Also, leftover dust on the pavement and tracks mixed with water makes for a slippery surface. That means trains and buses require a longer distance to stop, hence the need to run slower than normal.
- Do not run on train platforms or near bus stops. This helps you avoid “slip and fall” accidents and injuries due to the rain on what was dry pavement. Give yourself additional time than what you normally give to arrive at your bus or train stop for your transit ride.
- Drive SLOWLY. Wipers on, headlights on. If you must drive during the storm, make sure to turn your headlights on in addition to your windshield wipers. This is California State LAW. Also, driving slower than you normally would (5-10 mph below posted speed limits) can help prevent you from being in an accident during the storms.
- Watch TV, listen to the radio, or read online for storm updates. Local TV and radio stations will have updates on road closures in Silicon Valley due to the storm. We’ll also have local transit updates from @svtransitupdts on Twitter. You can also help others by reporting storm-related delays on VTA and Caltrain to us for others to take note of.
Boarding a Bus or Train During a Storm
- Make room for those who need it at shelters. Allow the physically disabled, elderly, or women who are pregnant and/or with young children to sit and stand in bus or train shelters to help keep them dry. As a good gesture, and if no shelter is nearby, allow someone who needs to be dry space underneath your umbrella.
- Stand as far as possible from the street curb or train tracks. This keeps you from being showered by water from oncoming cars or trains. If there is flooding at a bus stop, wait away from the flooded area to avoid being sprayed, or, if possible, board at another, safer bus stop.
- When the bus or train arrives, stand clear of the opening doors. This allows exiting passengers to open their umbrellas they may have. It also helps speed unloading and boarding. When you block the exits of a bus or train at the stop, you help slow down the system and delay others – including yourself.
Riding the Bus or Train During a Storm
- Keep the bus or train aisles clear. Place your wet umbrella or rain gear under your seat and away from the aisles. If your bus or train has an overhead luggage rack (found on the new VTA express buses and Caltrain rail cars), use the overhead racks to store your dry belongings. This allows others to quickly board and leave the bus or train as needed. It also helps prevent slipping on the wet floor of the bus or train, causing an injury and also delays.
- Keep wet items off the seats. Remember: one person, one fare, one seat. See the tip above on what to do with those wet belongings instead. This allows room for others to be seated as needed. This also keeps the bus and train seats dry and clean for others to use.
- Also, make sure follow these additional tips on how to conduct yourself when riding any bus or train.
Departing a Bus or Train During a Storm
- Take ALL of your personal belongings – wet AND dry – with you. Ultimately, YOU are responsible for your personal belongings when leaving a bus or train.
- Open your umbrella as you leave the bus or train. This ensures riders are not showered by your opening umbrella or rain gear as you leave the bus or train.
- Move a safe distance from the bus or train as soon as possible. This prevents you from being showered by water coming from the bus or train as it pulls away.
Let’s be careful and stay safe out there on the buses and trains.
Founder, Silicon Valley Transit Users