SF Examiner file photoCaltrain has allocated funding to help save Warm Planet bike storage.

SF Examiner file photoCaltrain has allocated funding to help save Warm Planet bike storage.

Caltrain recommends subsidizing bike storage facility

A popular Caltrain bike storage facility that faced closure is poised to receive a much-needed cash infusion.

Warm Planet, a free bike valet service, caters to as many as 170 commuters a day at its storage site near Caltrain’s Fourth and King Street Station. However, the owner of the site says the growing popularity of the center has made it unfeasible for him to fund the operation through his adjoining retail store. As a result, he has asked Caltrain to provide a subsidy for the site, a proposal the transit agency rejected in October.

After months of talks, the two sides appear to have hammered out a deal. Caltrain has recommended a monthly subsidy of at least $5,000 for Warm Planet, with a maximum allocation of $10,000.

On Thursday, the agency’s board of directors will vote on the proposed subsidy.

If approved, Caltrain will set aside $50,000 out of its operating budget this year to pay for the subsidy for Warm Planet. In the meantime, it will solicit bids — including one from Warm Planet — for a full-time facility operator, which it expects to finalize within six to eight months.

Warm Planet founder Kash, who only goes by one name, said Caltrain’s monthly subsidy will be enough for the site to maintain its operations and avoid closing. He said he’s looking forward to working with Caltrain on a permanent solution for the facility — one that needs to include a bigger site to meet the growing demands of cyclists.

Caltrain spokesman Christine Dunn said the agency is committed to keeping the bike facility open. The competitive bid process will determine what is best for the agency, she said.

Shirley Johnson, who sits on Caltrain’s bike advisory committee, said she was happy that the agency has recommended subsidizing Warm Planet.

“It’s great that Caltrain has responded so promptly to the concerns of its customers,” Johnson said. “Bike valet parking is what the customers have said they needed, and Caltrain recognizes that.”

Caltrain will fund the bike subsidy through excess farebox receipts. The agency has received $1.39 million more than projected this year through passenger fares.


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