Originally Posted by CharlesCO
My understanding was that the original BART plan called for express trains, but that the bores that were reserved for them were later given to the nascent Muni Metro (and one bore each in the downtown Oakland stations weren't dug out). Building the infrastructure for express trains or skip stop service at high frequency would likely require a lot of passing track, and if the entire BART system is above or below grade, that's by no means an inexpensive project.
And we don't have to go to Japan to see the effects of express trains or skip stop. We have that on Caltrain already, and the reason that was an easier switch was that Caltrain runs at grade.
Interesting point on the original BART plan. I need more info: thinkers behind BART were not (all) wild eyed dreamers.
The reason Japan has been brought up, is that Japanese railroad companies simply have the most experience dealing with express travel along high volume routes as well as the most experience in scheduling passenger trains across transfer points.
Express scheduling on Caltrain is a far simpler proposition than on BART, because Caltrain is merely a straight line. While made more complicated by tightly controlled limited freight train movements, and, by future HSR coexistence, Caltrain express issues do not involve a multi-leg network that branches off of a very busy tunnel (yet).
BART, IMO, for a reasonably low price compared to a new Bay Tunnel, has great opportunities to increase that traffic that does not have to go between SF and Oakland via express scheduling. These opportunities could radically increase when San Jose is hooked into BART and express train synergies exploited on the Oakland - San Jose corridor.
I suspect that most mass transit study in the US has been hampered by not looking enough at constantly improving efficiencies, train frequency, and, average speed. Many such improvements can be made in increments by steadily straightening out switch approaches, by replacing slower crossing speed switches with higher speed switches, by putting in wider radii curves, by steadily putting in extra tracks at stations where relatively cheap to do, etc.
Efforts should be more towards constant improvement, rather than towards grandiose projects because the total cost is spread out, and, the "return on investment" will be higher over the short to medium term. Such improvements are noted by the public, and, the politicians
who "serve" them.
I have learned this lesson while watching routing and switching mistakes being made on new mass transit lines, and, through experiencing resistance towards correcting serious mistakes while still fairly cheap to do.