TAMC Rail Policy February Meeting

Reported by Chris Flescher, RailPAC Associate Director, Salinas
The TAMC Rail Policy Committee met on 2-25-08

For the Caltrain extension to Salinas, the capital budget is fully funded through phases 1 and 2. There is some funding for some of the needed ROW purchases and funding for some of the needed construction. TAMC is applying for New Starts Funding, which would provide some funding for construction. There is a possibility of Federal funding to help pay for the bus facility part of the Salinas Intermodal Center. The ITC would have a bus transit center and a Greyhound bus station next to the train station.

Two weeks ago, the Federal government allowed funding to go to intercity rail matching for the first time ever.

One question was: should TAMC request $5 million from the state as a match for $5 million Federal?

The Rail Policy Committee agreed on a scope of work for the consulting firm to negotiate with the Caltrain JPB and the UP railroad. The (main) TAMC board will vote on the scope of work at their next meeting.

There is a possibility of a special train running from San Francisco to Salinas, in September, and a desire to have a steam train and/or vintage railcars. It will be called the Steinbeck Special. One member of the public suggested trying to move the date to mid-August, in order to coincide with the Steinbeck Festival.

If the train run happens, it will be a useful demonstration of a passenger train running between Gilroy and Salinas. The demonstration would be significant because at this time, the Coast Starlight is the only passenger train running there, and it is very unreliable.

If the proposed transportation sales tax passes, then 20% will go to transit. Then 75% of that transit funding will be used to create bus rapid transit. Several corridors for BRT are being studied, including Fremont/Lighthouse, the Monterey Branch Line, and Marina to Salinas. TAMC has not decided yet if the Branch Line will have BRT or some kind of rail service.

It appears that BRT on the Fremont/Lighthouse corridor might cost $3 to $5 million, while light rail on the Branch Line would be much more expensive.

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