Debating the What and Where of Caltrain’s ‘Pimp Seat’

short ride to someplace
Photo by Flickr user jovenjames

Over the past couple of weeks, we’ve seen a variety of tweets from Caltrain riders who expressed glee in nabbing the “pimp seat” on the train. This made us wonder: What is the pimp seat on the train? So we took to Twitter to find out.

Luckily, readers and riders were happy to help; consensus is that the pimp seat is on the upper level of an old-school car. It’s the double seat at the very back, giving riders room to stretch out and store their stuff, too.

There also appears to be a decoy pimp seat:

And thoughts on if it’s fair for shorties to grab this special spot:

Finally, @Ryan sent a picture of how awesome the pimp seat can be:

Are these guys right? Is this the best seat on the train?


  • I haven’t ridden Caltrain forever. Are you allowed to have your pimp juice onboard?

    • Caltrain respects the rights of adult passengers to enjoy the beverage of their choosing. So, logically, pimp juice is allowed!

    • In fact… pimps of all kinds bring juices of ALL kinds all the time. A far cry from BART, where I almost got tazed for my Mountain Dew having been opened, but not CURRENTLY open. grr.

  • So I tweeted energetically regarding The Caltrain Pimp Seat article. But I wanted to post the real, full story here…

    I’m a news reporter at a couple of small SF area radio stations. I live in the south bay, and my station is RIGHT across Townsend from the 4th & King Caltrain station. I live for my job, and spend way too much time headed to and from my workplace.

    The pimp seat may in fact have different meanings for different folks, but please let me argue for Capital-C-Capital-P-Capital-S… or THE Caltrain Pimp Seat.

    The older model of Caltrain, the silver, “sardine-can” style of Caltrain is what’s under discussion for the purposes of this post. The newer Bombardier-constructed cars have different seat configuration with no single seats anywhere.

    These older, silver Caltrain cars have an upper-deck with single seats where passengers can sit, by themselves, not next to strangers. This is an ENORMOUSLY positive thing when it comes to transit riding.

    Caltrain rules, as stated by conductors on almost every trip, include a fairly-strict “No Feet on the Seats” rule. Some add the line, “the next passenger doesn’t want to sit in… what you STEPPED in.”

    Not a bad rule, in part, because on those upper decks, the first two seats are actually facing each other. Most riders take this as… a seat for them, and a seat for their bag or cargo. Or … their feet.

    Surely, a pimp-ish seat.

    Similarly, the LAST seats on the older-model Caltrain upper deck are two sideways adjacent seats. Also, extra room for the heavily cargo-burdened passengers. Also, pimp-ish.

    (Except on trains to Giants games. ugh.)

    BUT… ahhhh… THE PIMP SEAT. It hides in the disabled-access car that also contains a wheelchair-accessible restroom. In fact, it’s BECAUSE of that wheelchair accessible restroom that the magic begins.

    The construction of this car is such that an opposite-facing seat, like all the OTHER upperdeck seats, isn’t possible due to the wheelchair-accessible restroom.

    There’s just a small metal wall.

    This is the perfect Caltrain loophole. Feet are up, but not on any of the seats.

    Now, to be fair, these days, the conductors don’t seem as worried about the condition of the seats, anywhere you sit, what with the apparent melting-down of Caltrain’s finances. In addition, as mentioned to me, sometimes the odor next to you makes enjoying the Pimp Seat impossible, since you ARE right next to the restroom.

    It’s not perfect. Caltrain’s not perfect. Life’s not perfect.

    But when you spend a full 10 to 12 hours a week aboard this transit system, the little things start to matter.

    Now, to find a way to get a table and AC power plug in that seat.

    • Mike

      I love that seat…if the bathroom isn’t too rank yet. And there really is only one per trainset. My second choice is the two-seater on the top level of the old cars so I can put my feet on the railing for part of the ride and open my laptop screen to whatever angle I like.

      I prefer the Bombardier cars, actually, even with the facing-each-other issue. I sit in the aisle seat facing against the direction of travel, and nobody ever wants to sit facing the wrong way in the window seat. Win! (I do put my backpack in the rack above so the seat is open, just no one ever asks to sit there).

  • The older trains are the ones with at least an option to sit alone on the upper level. I made the mistake once of sitting on the first seat on the top row which has a seat facing it when the Giants were in town. Generally you have it all to yourself since really two people can barely sit facing each other with that seating arrangement. People will try though if the car is packed with people headed to a game.

    Another factor for pimp seat to me is what side of the train, especially during the Summer months. I always sit on the right side of the train when I head South in the morning and head North in the evening. Otherwise you will have the sun in your face.

    Yes, I think about this way too much.

    • You aren’t thinking about this too much at all. I totally do the right side of the train in the morning, left in the evening. Otherwise it makes doing anything with a screen intolerable, due to the glare.

  • Roger A

    For me, the PIMP Seat in Caltrain happens to be in the new Bullet train Bombardier tri-level cars….

    3rd Passenger Compartment, 2nd Level, Facing forward direction of travel (mornings right side of train, afternoons left side of train – where the sun basically isnt shining inside), in the middle seat with the table and the electrical plugs.


  • I guess my opinion differs. For me the pimp seat is the pair of seats front-to-front on the second floor nearest the stairs. You can actually put a laptop properly on your lap.

    On Bombardier, the pimp seats are upstairs with a table, but it’s not nearly as big a difference. Of course, all of the trains I commute on are the bloody tin ones.

  • Henry Larry

    The pimp seat sounds like a coveted spot for any Caltrain rider. I am all for equal opportunity but if someone snagging it they must appreciate the journey from a whole new level.
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