Jackson Announces Progress 'On Track' for Train for South Coast Commuters

March 19, 2015

SACRAMENTO – State Senator Hannah-Beth Jackson (D- Santa Barbara) announced today that improved passenger rail service is expected to begin running in the Spring of 2016 during morning and evening commute hours in Ventura and Santa Barbara counties.

Significant details are still to be worked out, including operating and service agreements with Union Pacific, Metrolink and Amtrak, and some capitol improvements may have to be made at train storage locations. Station stops are also still to be determined, but it is likely the train will travel between Moorpark and Goleta.

Jackson, who is chair of the Senate Select Committee on Passenger Rail, has made improving passenger rail in the state and her district a priority since taking office in 2012. She has been working for months with the Governor’s office and the California State Transportation Agency to retime a train to run along the Highway 101 corridor in Ventura and Santa Barbara counties during commute hours.

“Getting a rail line in place for commuters along the Highway 101 corridor in Ventura and Santa Barbara counties has been a long-standing priority of mine, because it makes so much sense,” Jackson said. “It will alleviate gridlock, get people out of their cars, reduce greenhouse gases, and get people where they want to go faster. It will also be a significant way to reduce gridlock once they begin construction to widen Highway 101. I am very hopeful we will see a commuter train in our area beginning next Spring.”

Although details are still being finalized, the train would likely begin running around 6 a.m., and stop in the cities of Moorpark, Camarillo, Oxnard, Ventura, Carpinteria, and Santa Barbara before arriving in Goleta just before 8 a.m. A return commute is planned for the evening. The train is expected to include WiFi and a dining car, and be one of Amtrak’s newer and more environmentally friendly trains.

Ultimately, Jackson would like to have at least two trains running at commute hours and to see the train extend from Ventura County to San Luis Obispo County. But getting a second train is expected involve significant negotiations with Union Pacific over the construction of rail sidings, sections of tracks that allow trains to pass each other.

“This first train is an important first step, but I plan to keep working hard on this,” said Jackson. “Getting viable commuter rail in our area has enormous, positive implications for our quality of life and the economic future of our region.”

In last year’s budget, Jackson worked successfully to get a one-time $25 million allocation of cap-and-trade funding to fund state transit and intercity rail projects, as well as an allocation of 10 percent of total cap-and-trade revenues for every year thereafter.  

This morning at the Santa Barbara County Association of Governments Board of Directors meeting, California State Transportation Agency Deputy Secretary Chad Edison will make a presentation on efforts to modify the Pacific Surfliner schedule to serve commuters between Ventura and Santa Barbara counties.