MEETING REPORT: COAST RAIL COORDINATING COUNCIL

COAST RAIL COORDINATING COUNCIL, TECHNICAL ADVISORY COMMITTEE. “What about the FEMA cars stored outside New Orleans?”
San Luis Obispo, January 18, 2008
Reported by Paul Dyson, RailPAC President

The CRCC TAC met at San Luis Obispo last Friday, January 18, 2008. Amtrak, Caltrans, SLOCOG, Ventura, Santa Barbara County and City, Monterey County, Caltrain (our own Art Lloyd) King City and Soledad were represented, as was RailPAC by Bruce Jenkins, Ric Silver and this writer. The meeting was conducted by Grover Beach Council Member John Shoals who is vice Chair of CRCC. Tom Mulligan, VP Passenger Services for the Union Pacific also attended.

Highlights of the meeting included a presentation by the City of Santa Barbara of their City policy to provide rail service to commuters from Ventura County. Caltrans reported discussions with UP about their infrastructure requirements and hoped that these would be concluded within 60 days.

Art Lloyd brought up the issue of the FEMA cars stored outside New Orleans, that these should be brought into service for an early start up of the Coast Daylight. Jonathan Hutchison of Amtrak promised to review that situation while warning, as usual, that Amtrak had no capital money for the needed refurbishment of these cars. The alternative is likely to be a long wait for the new 1B funded equipment.

The most important immediate issue is the California Transportation Commission meeting at San Mateo February 14. This meeting will discuss and vote on the Prop 1B rail projects, including $25 million for track and signal projects on the Coast line, a necessary precursor to the operation of the “Daylight”. (See “Action Item” elsewhere in this issue). Pete Rodgers of SLOCOG called on all member agencies to send letters of support for this funding to the CTC Board (RailPAC has already written).

Other topics discussed include the ADA platform heights issue. I reported on the resolutions to be passed by the Burbank Commission on Disabilities, which is an attempt to start a wave of grass roots support for a sensible policy on platform heights.

Jonathan Hutchison reported on OTP, ridership etc for the corridor trains. There is still a lot of room for improvement, although ridership, punctuality and revenue are all up from the same period last year.

ACTION ITEM FOR ALL READERS:

Please write letters of support for the Prop 1B inter city rail projects, with particular emphasis on the Coast Daylight $25 million, to:

Mr. James Ghielmetti and Commissioners
California Transportation Commission
1120 N Street, Room 2221 (MS-52)
Sacramento, CA 95814.

The meeting is on February 14, so DO THIS NOW. The opportunity to get these funds for the Daylight will not come around again for at least a year, so WRITE TODAY, and better yet ALSO ask your state representative for support for inter city rail. The voters approved 1B. There should be no delay in funding these projects. More delay means more cost escalation and less bang for our bucks!

Paul Dyson
President, 1/21/08

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