Riding rails is never free

August 23, 2015

An editorial from the Merced, California Sun-Star


All aboard! That was the consensus during a public hearing on the prospect of providing better passenger rail service to our region before a full house at Modesto’s City Hall on Friday. What wasn’t discussed, at least in detail, is just who will pay for a ticket to the future.

Assemblyman Adam Gray called the meeting and invited legislators Kristin Olsen, Anthony Cannella and Cathleen Galgiani to join him on the dais. A host of speakers trooped to the microphone, including Modesto Mayor Garrad Marsh, Merced County Supervisor John Pedrozo, rail officials and many more. A who’s who of politicos and activists from San Joaquin, Merced and Stanislaus counties were in the seats.

 If this meeting was supposed to be controversial, someone forgot to invite the naysayers. Instead, representatives of the Altamont Corridor Express and Amtrak’s San Joaquin Corridor laid out plans about increasing the number of trains going to the Bay Area, building ACE stations in Merced and Modesto and finally bridging the gap (northbound) between Stockton and Sacramento. ACE and Amtrak have formed a joint powers authority and are working in concert to build a bigger, better regional rail system.

Benefits were described in glowing detail, provoking dreams of faster commutes, quick trips to see the 49ers, surfing the Internet while traveling, cleaner air from fewer cars and a north Valley link to an eventual high-speed rail terminal in Merced. These are the dreams we should be dreaming. If they come true, they will bring opportunity, new residents and better facilities throughout the region.



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