Some 14 years after administration of the Amtrak Capitol Corridor intercity rail service was transferred from the state to a local association of transportation agencies along its corridor; two bills (Senate Bill 1225 and Assembly Bill 1779) have reached the Governor's desk that would allow similar transfers for (respectively) the Southern California coastal Pacific Surfliner and central valley-bay area San Joaquin.
A new first person report by Dana Gabbard, available exclusively on Streetsblog, traces the history of the Amtrak corridors in California, how regional and national politics have impacted statewide rail service, and how the local politics have brought the state to consider this transfer. Gabbard's report is neutral, seeking to inform readers of the technical details that go into Amtrak and regional rail planning in California.
At our request, Gabbard introduces the piece:
Proponents point to the success of the Capitols under local management as the model they hope to emulate. Key concerns if the bills are signed by the Governor are can the local agencies work out tensions between them over how the Boards of the new entities are structured, will the new management appreciate the key role of Thruway connecting bus service and the importance of preserving and improving it and can the local elected officials exercise "big picture" thinking and resist parochialism. Certainly one hopes if the Governor signs the bill that through channels it will be communicated that the process will not be hands free and the state will on an ongoing basis monitor the two route's performance and act if they appear in danger of spiraling downward.
If you wish to share with the Governor concerns like these regarding the bills they can be sent via this online form, specifying in the subject the bill you are commenting on. The deadline for the Governor to act is the 30th.
You can read the full report, by clicking here.