San Joaquin Valley Amtrak trains now have local management

August 12, 2015

It’s official: the San Joaquin Valley Amtrak line is now managed locally, with Kings County getting a seat at the table.

As of June 29, the Stockton-based San Joaquin Joint Powers Authority has taken control over Amtrak’s San Joaquin Valley train service, considered the fifth-busiest Amtrak corridor in the U.S. with 1.2 million passengers a year.

The new agency is headed by a 10-member board of directors. Each director represents a different agency and county. The Kings County Association of Governments is represented by Supervisor Doug Verboon, with Hanford Mayor Russ Curry as the alternate.

Caltrans formerly ran the San Joaquin line from Sacramento, with local agencies frequently complaining that they lacked a strong voice at the table.

Now, with the new organization in place, Kings and surrounding counties are in a position to directly push for improvements to the line, which remains a transportation alternative for many local travelers.

Interviews with passengers at the Hanford Amtrak station and comments to the Sentinel’s Facebook page reveal a variety of perspectives on Amtrak.

“I would like something out of Bakersfield to go straight to the coast,” said a Bakersfield resident who identified herself only as Pat. She was referring to the fact that the train stops in Bakersfield, with southbound travelers loading into buses from there.

“I’d like to get more business inside here,” said Hanford resident Debra Ellis as she waited at the Hanford station Tuesday for a train to Corcoran.

Ellis said she’d like to see snack and/or drink vending machines in the station.

Maria de Jesus Guzman-Galante said she wants pets allowed onboard trains. Jason LeaRue requested “less vagrants around the station.” Krystle McWells suggested “more staff” working at the station.

Colorado resident Vicki Warner-Huggins, sitting near Ellis Tuesday afternoon, wondered why there weren’t advertisements for local businesses on the walls. She noted that many people waiting for a train could walk outside and buy something.

Read staff reporter Seth Nidever’s full story in The Hanford Sentinel by clicking here.

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