Comments to the LOSSAN Board, January 25, 2012 by Paul J. Dyson, RailPAC President.
Back in the 80s an ad hoc coalition of elected representatives and advocates including RailPAC were successful in bringing about an increase in frequency of the San Diegan trains as they were called then, and their extension to Santa Barbara.
What we did not have was the plethora of agencies that we have today, many of which are represented in this room. And I feel compelled to say that the progress made in this intercity corridor in those years by a small group of bipartisan, public spirited individuals was at least as great, year over year, as the accomplishments of all the Boards and agencies that have been conjured into existence in the last two decades.
Furthermore, based on a brief perusal of the documents which have been circulated prior to this meeting regarding the proposed Joint Powers Authority, it seems to me that there are agencies which are deliberately obstructing progress towards a more efficient, reliable, and speedy intercity service. Many of you will have read our publications and a couple of stories; one about the “Berlin Wall” at Oceanside, the other entitled “So many agencies, so little service”. Many of you will be all too well aware that the owners of the rights of way give priority to their “own” trains, and are content to delay Surfliner trains in order to maintain their own performance statistics, even if from a system point of view the right thing to do would be to take a small delay on their own train for the greater good of the travelling public.
Now RailPAC has consistently called for a single regional agency to operate passenger trains in Southern California. However, we have been asked by a number of elected officials to support this body’s attempt to reorganize itself into a JPA to more directly manage this corridor. Recognizing the institutional relationships and the agencies already in place, I will state that RailPAC strongly supports the creation of a LOSSAN Joint Powers Authority. However, we do so with the caveat that this has to be an interim step on the way to a unified authority. We see such a single agency as the only way to overcome the turf battles that are unacceptable to railroad passengers and taxpayers in general. We are paying the salaries around here and the lack of cooperation between public agencies is totally unacceptable. The cardinal principle here should be that public agencies have a collective responsibility to deliver value for money service to passengers and taxpayers. Cooperation, and setting regional needs over local control, is a requirement, not an option.