The following letter was sent to several recipients. The subject:
SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA INTER-CITY AND REGIONAL RAIL SERVICES
We are facing our annual funding battles, both in Washington and Sacramento, and whatever the outcome it seems clear to us that it will be some years before we put into service any new inter city rolling stock. And while there are some infrastructure improvements under way there is little possibility in the next few years to bring about a noticeable improvement in frequency or journey times. So we face the question: do we continue as we are with a Surfliner service that suffers from poor punctuality and increasing unreliability, together with an equipment pool that is really starting to show its age, or can we make better use of all of the passenger rail resources that we have?
We would like you to consider the following outline suggestions for immediate study by your staffs:
Reduction in â€œSurflinerâ€ schedules through the less busy winter months. Amtrak should take the opportunity to catch up with heavy cleaning and maintenance to improve the condition of the train sets and the reliability of locomotives and cars.
Explore the option of a reconfigured Los Angeles – San Diego service. We suggest a Surfliner every two hours alternating with an all stops Metrolink/Coaster run through local train.
Service north of Los Angeles to be reviewed and retimed, making better use of the Metrolink turns to fill in gaps, and if possible to improve the schedules of 784 and 792.
Start 799 earlier to provide commuter opportunities from L.A. to Ventura County and from Ventura County to Santa Barbara County.
As soon as train sets are restored give priority to starting the Coast Daylight, possibly in 2008 if additional Superliners can be refurbished.
When new train sets are delivered, add the Coachella Valley to the Surfliner matrix.
We understand that these ideas will require a lot of cooperation between agencies, all of which have limited budgets. Nevertheless, each agency has the common objective of improving regional transportation, and we believe that it is incumbent on all parties to apply taxpayer-funded resources to achieve the best overall result. We can achieve improved mobility, reduce highway congestion, and improve air quality by coordinating rail passenger services in Southern California.
Some of you have heard my analogy of Switzerland to describe our objective for public transportation in the region. That country would fit between Santa Barbara and Palm Springs. Multiple rail and bus services offer coordinated schedules in ticketing to provide a high degree of mobility, all day, everyday. We should have the same goal.
One final request. Letâ€™s not give this to a consultant to study. We believe that your professional staffs already have ideas as to how to accomplish some of these objectives, and we donâ€™t need months of study to determine what needs to be done. Rather, a can do attitude and a desire to provide a better service to the public is what is needed.
Paul J. Dyson
RailPAC is a non-profit rail advocacy group run entirely by volunteers.