Letter to the Daily Californian from Chris Flescher, RailPAC Associate Director, Salinas To Dave Nordstrand: I read your article (May 19, 2007) about trains and the city of Salinas, and I wanted to make a few comments.
I agree that cars and airplanes will probably continue to be the dominant mode of transportation in this area for a long time. However, it is very likely that in a few years, there will be more people taking the train to and from Salinas, and there will be a lot more people using the train station.
The Transportation Agency of Monterey County (TAMC) has plans to convert the Salinas train station into a so-called Intermodal Transit Center (ITC). The MST transit center and the Greyhound station will be relocated to the ITC, so many people will pass through the area, even if they will not be riding a train. It is likely that the ITC will have some other features that will attract people, like guarded bicycle parking and taxi stands.
There are two projects in the planning stage that will bring more passenger trains to Salinas. The first is the extension of Caltrain from Gilroy to Salinas, and TAMC expects service to start in 4 years from now. The second project is the so-called Coast Daylight train, which would run between San Francisco and Los Angeles, probably on a schedule about 9 hours and ahead of, or behind the Coast Starlight, which will share the corridor, between Los Angeles and San Jose.
TAMC is also studying a train that would run between Castroville and Marina, or Monterey, and connect with the extended Caltrain. That would not bring passengers to Salinas, but it would being them to nearby places in Monterey County.
I am an associate director of the advocacy group Rail Passenger Association of California (RailPAC) Railpac is working on many projects throughout the
state, and one of them is improving rail service in Monterey County. You can read more about the group at www.railpac.org.
In conclusion, the Salinas train station is empty most of the time, but I don’t expect that to be true in a few years from now, when Caltrain and the Coast Daylight serve it, and it is an intermodal transit center, rather than just a train station.
NOTE: I received the following note back from writer Dave Norstrand: “I appreciate your comments and insights, and I will keep this material for reference. More trains sounds great, and I hope it happens.”