Paul Wellman

Early-Morning Train on the Horizon

Rail commuters who packed the trains while Highway 101 was out of commission might be inspired to pile back in this spring. A Joint Powers Authority led by Jennifer Bergener, encompassing railway between San Diego and San Luis Obispo, is on the verge of accomplishing a feat widely viewed as impossible: an early-morning train. With the final approvals underway with rail owners, a train from Ventura is slated to arrive in Santa Barbara by 7:30 a.m. come April. The return time would still be around 4:40 p.m. Bergener, executive director of the LOSSAN Rail Corridor Agency, said Union Pacific had approved the new schedule and that she was working with Metrolink to minimize the effects on service across Los Angeles.

The Santa Barbara County Association of Governments (SBCAG), which administers Measure A transportation funds, will meet on Wednesday evening in Solvang to discuss the new service subsidy as well as potential rail passes of $50 for 10 tickets and $150 for a month. Once in Santa Barbara, the city bus system is to connect passengers with their destination. The Metropolitan Transit District is finalizing those plans with SBCAG. The $200,000 estimated cost includes bicycle facilities and a pilot bike-sharing program.

Dennis Story, who has been advocating for rail for decades, is a member of the oversight committee for Measure A. Commuter rail has been “talked about for a long time, and deadlines for its start have come and gone,” he said, “but this time it’s different. All the Ts have been crossed and all the I’s dotted.”

Bergener will deliver more details on the anticipated service at a meeting of the subregional rail group on February 14, said SBCAG deputy director Gregg Hart. The meeting takes place at 1:30 p.m. at MTD (550 Olive St.) in the John G. Britton Auditorium.

Editor’s Note: This story was amended on February 1 to add meeting information.

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