It seemed more of a “HIP HIP HOORAY” congratulatory celebration. Very well attended, (standing room only in the fairly large Modesto Council Chambers) . Assembly Member Adam Gray chaired the meeting. Welcome was delivered by Modesto Mayor Garrad Marsh followed by statements from Legislative Members e.g. Senators Cathleen Galgiani (Stockton), Anthony Cannella (Ceres) and Assembly Member Kristin Olsen (Modesto). All of these speakers made issue of the merits of increased passenger rail would have on reducing auto travel and the improvement of air quality which is a large problem in the central valley. The planned Mid Route early morning departure of north and south trains out of Modesto which would ease and enhance commuter travel to the Bay Area, Sacramento and Los Angeles was enthusiastically touted.
John Pedrozo chair of the San Joaquin Joint Powers Authority (SJJPA) and Dan Leavitt Manager of Regional Initiatives (SJJPA) spoke on background, funding needs and expansion plans e.g. Mid Route Departure pointing out the ongoing negotiations with the Host Railroad and Amtrak concerning lay over facilities etc. Start date for this service may be a year or a year and a half from now.
Bob Johnson chair of the San Joaquin Regional Rail Commission (SJRRC) and Stacey Mortensen Executive Director (SJRRC) Altamont Commuter Express (ACE) spoke of the planned extended ACE service to Merced.
Testimonials for the San Joaquin and ACE Improvement and Expansion were made by numerous valley Supervisors, Presidents and CEO’s extolling the numerous advantages of the increased passenger rail service would bring e.g. ridership could possibly increase up to 70,000 per day, air quality would vastly improve , commuters could reach Silicon Valley and the Bay Area and an increase in business growth and development to the Central Valley would be a very positive result.
Public Comment was more of the same , very positive.