Capital rail service granted two-month reprieve
Truckee and North Tahoe residents hoping to commute daily by train to Sacramento still have no direct link to the Tahoe area, but Sen. Tim Leslie’s crusade to continue Capitol Corridor Rail Service may one day make it possible.
Leslie led a campaign to halt the cancellation of the daily service from Colfax to Sacramento, along with officials from Sacramento, Placer and Nevada counties.
“I have said from the beginning that I am confident, upon full review, and considering the input of local stakeholders, the State of California will recognize that train service to south Placer and beyond is a sound investment that must be maintained,” Leslie said.
Maria Contreras-Sweet, the California Secretary of Business Transportation and Housing, agreed to grant the daily rail service a two-month reprieve until Dec. 1. The reprieve will allow the state to conduct a thorough and complete review of the value and effectiveness of the service to the Placer County communities of Roseville, Rocklin, Auburn and Colfax.
Leslie thanked Contreras-Sweet for her decision to grant the reprieve, but warned residents that the action does not mean the rail service is here to stay.
“This gives us two months to make our case to the administration and establish not only why Capitol Corridor service should be maintained, but expanded to more easily accommodate commuters’ schedules,” Leslie said.
According to a 1995 Caltrans study, service to Placer County is only the first leg of future rail service planned to the Tahoe Basin and Reno.
Those favoring a daily rail connection to Tahoe point out that it would decrease traffic congestion on the Interstate 80 corridor and in the Tahoe Basin, and ultimately improve air quality for the region.
Capitol Corridor Rail Service began operation 18 months ago. Last month, Contreras-Sweet elected to discontinue funding for the service, citing poor ridership as the primary reason.
Proponents of the service say ridership is low because of poor scheduling. For example, the train leaves Colfax at 6 a.m. and does not return until 9 p.m.
Jennifer Merchant, executive director of Truckee-North Tahoe/Transportation Management Association, said the association supports the concept of daily service to the capital from Truckee.
“It’s something we certainly support, because it’s a key step to enhancing the transport system around Tahoe,” Merchant said. She said it’s important to keep the connection to Colfax intact, so that rail service can eventually be extended to Tahoe.
“We have to have schedules that work for commuters and visitors from Sacramento to Reno,” Merchant said. “We support Sen. Leslie’s efforts to continue service to Colfax and work for service from Sacramento to Reno.”
Currently, the only train that travels from Truckee to Sacramento daily is Amtrak’s cross-country service, which is sometimes hours late when it arrives in Truckee.
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