The Tracy resident, who has three children, became excited Tuesday, July 30, when she heard about plans by the Altamont Corridor Express to expand its train schedule in the coming years to include weekend trips and more weekday trains to the Bay Area and other Central Valley cities.
“When you want to go to the city, it can be a hassle, because you don’t want to get stuck in traffic for hours,” she said. “It’s kind of neat, because you don’t worry about that, and riding the train is part of the fun.”
ACE officials were available Tuesday for three hours at the Tracy Transit Station, 50 Sixth St., to discuss the ACEforward expansion project, which includes six round-trip trains from Stockton to San Jose by 2018 and 10 round-trip trains by 2022, according to Dan Leavitt, manager of regional initiatives for ACE. ACE now offers four round trips on weekdays.
It was the fifth and final meeting ACE officials held, having stopped in Santa Clara, Fremont, Modesto and Livermore since July 22.
“People seem pretty receptive to the idea of increasing the amount of trains, so we can actually be serving people from the Central Valley to the Bay Area, but people who want to go from the Bay Area to the valley, as well,” he said. “A lot of our focus here and what we are looking at is serving downtown areas and giving people access to an alternative to your vehicle.”
Leavitt said ACE has four goals in the next 10 years: to improve existing service, increase train frequency, reduce travel time and improve safety. Service expansion will include a rail extension to Modesto by 2018 and to Merced by 2022 — with eventual stops in Manteca and Turlock.
ACE plans to connect with Amtrak, CalTrain, Bay Area Rapid Transit and the proposed California high-speed rail project.
For Tracy residents, Leavitt believes the city’s location and the train platform at 4800 N. Tracy Blvd. will inherently benefit local riders.
“We’re really investigating the possibility of stopping in Tracy, and we’ve heard some positive feedback about what that means for people in the rail corridor,” he said. “There are a lot of commuters here in Tracy already, but this is about expanding our options for families and giving those riders more chances to use the ACE service.”
ACE will fund the project with rider fares, which constitute 38 percent of its revenue, and other local funding sources from cities and counties along the corridor, Leavitt said.
Funds from the California high-speed rail bond act, passed by state voters in November 2008, are being used to offset environmental study costs — a process that’s already underway.
“This is a serious project by ACE, because right now we’re a commuter line, but we want to become a vital connecting line that is an everyday alternative people can depend on,” he said.
ACE is gathering public comments until Aug. 16. To comment, email firstname.lastname@example.org with “ACEforward EIR/EIS” in the subject line.
• Contact Joel Danoy at 830-4229 or email@example.com.