High Levels of Public Interest in the Draft Passenger Rail Feasibility Analysis

The feasibility study suggests rail service from Santa Cruz to Aptos only. If you want to see rail service extend to Watsonville, respond on the RTC website by July 31st. You can take the online survey here – English and in Spanish here.


July 29, 2015 – Santa Cruz County, CA – With only a few days left before the end of the public comment period on July 31, the Santa Cruz County Regional Transportation Commission (RTC) shows no sign of slowing their efforts to engage the community in a conversation about adding rail transit to the local transportation mix.  A Draft Passenger Rail Feasibility Reportwas released in late May, and the RTC has been out in force at farmers markets, cultural festivals, first Friday, flea markets, and other community gatherings to provide information about the findings and encourage dialogue. In addition, meetings have been held with stakeholders representing business, environmental, education, neighborhood, agriculture and economically disadvantaged populations. A robust email and online campaign has generated feedback from a huge cross-section of the county and resulted in requests for presentations to groups such as the Rotary, Chamber of Commerce, Commission on the Environment and even the Penny University.

To date, over 3600 people have taken the time to send emailed comments, or complete an online survey in English and Spanish.  RTC Executive Director George Dondero noted that the level of participation indicates that people deeply care about their community and are interested in weighing in on these important decisions about future transportation options.

The Draft Passenger Rail Feasibility Report and Executive Summary — including an analysis of currently available rail technology options;

sample service scenarios; estimated travel time via rail transit; cost and ridership estimates; funding assessment; evaluation based on goals and objectives; and next step suggestions – can be found on the project webpage:www.sccrtc.org/rail .

Here are some key points:

  • Train frequencies for the sample rail transit scenarios serving only the peak period (Scenario D) would total 12 per day in each direction or 24 total.  Other rail transit samples (Scenarios B and G) analyzed cost and ridership if trains operated every 30 minutes from 6 am to 9 pm.  This equals 30 trains per day in each direction.  The differences provide a way to understand the correlation between rail transit frequency and potential ridership.
  • Ridership for the sample rail transit scenarios ranges from approximately 300,000 to 1,500,000 people per year.
  • Capital costs for the sample rail transit service scenarios range from $4 million to $12 million per mile depending on the service proposed, equating to $31 million to $176 million for the total line.
  • Operating costs for the sample rail transit service scenarios range from $4 million to $14 million per year.

A summary of public comments will be presented to the RTC board with recommendations about amendments for the Final Report in the fall and the final report will be considered by the RTC board before the end of 2015.

The RTC is analyzing rail transit to maximize use of existing infrastructure in the 32-mile rail corridor that was purchased with voter-approved Proposition 116 funds to expand the rail network in California.  The purpose of the rail transit feasibility study is to understand whether this type of transportation will provide a transportation mode for the community — including seniors, people with disabilities, and people traveling long distances such as south county residents – to meet future mobility needs.   Other uses of the corridor include continued freight rail service, recreational passenger rail service and a bicycle/pedestrian path next to the tracks.  Freight rail operations are protected by federal and state regulations. Iowa Pacific, doing business locally as the Santa Cruz & Monterey Bay Railway, is 3 years into a ten year contract with the RTC to provide freight service on the Santa Cruz Branch Rail Line.

For more information about any of these projects or to sign up for e-news, please visit the RTC website: www.sccrtc.org.

This entry was posted on Wednesday, July 29th, 2015 at 3:59 pm and is filed under City Manager, City of Watsonville, Homepage News, Public Works, Traffic . You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. Both comments and pings are currently closed.