Making the stressful drive to Sacramento for an early morning meeting can be a challenge. Whether it is road construction or the bottleneck in South Sacramento from daily commuters, the congestion and stop-and-go traffic can be frustrating. Not to mention finding a parking space once you get to the state’s Capitol.
There’s good news – a new option for business travelers is just a few weeks away.
Amtrak San Joaquins trains will operate on a new schedule between the San Joaquin Valley and Sacramento. In addition to being a safe and environmentally friendly option, traveling by train can be relaxing and productive.
This is why I am excited about Amtrak San Joaquins’ Morning Express service, rolling out from Modesto on May 7.
In my roles as a member of the Stanislaus County Board of Supervisors, the California Partnership for the San Joaquin Valley and the San Joaquin Joint Powers Authority, I find myself traveling to Sacramento on a regular basis for hearings, conferences and meeting with state regulators and elected officials. In the past, I drove due to early morning meetings.
Now, I can take the train to Sacramento and arrive before 8 a.m., avoiding the drive and the traffic, and getting work done along the way.
Once I get to the Sacramento station, I use Lyft for that last mile to get to my meeting room, quickly and for less than the cost of parking my car. Return train service departs Sacramento at 12:41 p.m. and 5:30 p.m., making stops at each of the stations along the San Joaquins southbound line.
There is more good news.
Morning Express service is just the beginning. This is the first step in a series of upcoming operational improvements along the line, including the addition of an eighth and ninth daily round-trips, Morning Express to the Bay Area and improvements at the stations.
Along with the San Joaquin Regional Rail Commission, the Joint Powers Authority has applied for grant funding through SB1 for the state’s 2018 Transit and Intercity Rail Capital Program for the “Valley Rail” project. If selected as a grant recipient, the Joint Powers Authority and Regional Rail Commission will be making the necessary improvements to increase San Joaquins service frequency to Sacramento, extend the Altamont Corridor Express service to Sacramento, and add several stops at key locations along an alternate route into Sacramento.
As an elected supervisor for our region, I continue to fight for more passenger rail transportation options, which requires local, state and federal funding. With funding for implementation of the Valley Rail project, San Joaquin Valley communities will have even better connections to Sacramento, the Bay Area, and the greater California rail network. Reducing traffic and congestion on Highway 99 and I-5 will help improve our regional air quality and provide new options for local travelers.
I’m looking forward to the upcoming inaugural Morning Express train arriving at 7:41 a.m. in Sacramento on May 7.
Tickets for the Morning Express can be booked now. If you have never taken Amtrak and have early-morning business in Sacramento, give it a try.
Vito Chiesa represents District 2 on the Stanislaus County Board of Supervisors.