Loading ...
Sorry, an error occurred while loading the content.

California Crunch 3

Expand Messages
  • Ronald Dawson
    From http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?file=/chronicle/archive/2001/03/05 /ED72846.DTL Dawson Get on Track, California Monday, March 5, 2001 IF
    Message 1 of 1 , Mar 31 11:23 PM
    • 0 Attachment
      From
      http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?file=/chronicle/archive/2001/03/05
      /ED72846.DTL Dawson

      Get on Track, California

      Monday, March 5, 2001

      IF CALIFORNIA wants help with its transportation worries, it should look no
      further than the little-used train tracks running through most communities.
      Rail travel, long ignored in a car-crazy state, has a renewed role to play.

      From a humble start 30 years ago, Amtrak passenger service has collected a
      growing ridership, mostly among travelers on short trips such as routes from
      the Bay Area to Sacramento, within the San Joaquin Valley and between San
      Diego and Los Angeles.

      Amtrak lost a bid last year to win a 10-year, $12 billion bond measure from
      Congress, but it's back on track this year. The publicly owned corporation
      is also in line for state money, with Gov. Gray Davis among the prime
      boosters for a $700 million grant over the next five years.

      But if they build it, will anyone ride? So far, the answer is yes. Ridership
      jumped 52 percent in the last 12 months on the seven Capitol trains that
      connect San Jose to Sacramento. The biggest complaint is that there aren't
      more trains at convenient hours. Additional passengers rode the other two
      routes in the valley and Southern California.

      As state policy, more passenger trains make sense. Rail lines are cheaper to
      upgrade than freeways. Modern diesel trains burn less fuel than airplanes
      and run directly into downtown areas, where riders want to go. Small cities
      little served by airlines need quick connections with bigger communities.

      But trains remain a tough sell in a state built on freeways. Barely 1
      percent of California's 34 million residents have ridden a train. By
      comparison, a train culture along the Boston-to-Washington corridor inspired
      popular 150 mph train service that competes with planes.

      Amtrak also faces a political test: a congressional dictum to break even by
      2003. That goal will be hard to make.

      Despite such obstacles, it's encouraging that Amtrak is thinking big in
      California. If Congress approves the bond package, the real work of
      expanding the state's bare bones service can start.

      Double-tracking can end delays for freight trains waiting to clear a narrow
      point. Track beds can be rebuilt to handle 90 mph trains. More locomotives
      and passenger cars can be purchased. More departure times should coax
      drivers from behind the steering wheel.

      Transit planning is all about options. Give drivers another way to get
      there, and chances are good they'll leave the car behind. It's time to bring
      back trains as a convenient and comfortable way to travel in California.

      ©2001 San Francisco Chronicle Page A - 22
    Your message has been successfully submitted and would be delivered to recipients shortly.