LOSSAN Rail Corridor Agency to take over management of popular Amtrak route from state
ORANGE – The Pacific Surfliner rail service, the nation’s second busiest Amtrak route, will transition to local control beginning on July 1, following the signing of an interagency transfer agreement with the state of California on Monday.
The Los Angeles – San Diego – San Luis Obispo (LOSSAN) Rail Corridor Agency, with management and staffing provided by the Orange County Transportation Authority, will take over day-to-day administrative duties for the Pacific Surfliner service that day, including management of the operating contract with Amtrak, which operates the service .
The move, prompted by state legislation, transfers management of the Pacific Surfliner service from Caltrans’ Division of Rail and Mass Transportation in Sacramento to local oversight by the LOSSSAN Agency in an effort to enhance customer service, ensure efficient use of resources and more effective decisions about train schedules, on-board amenities, capital projects, and service expansion.
“This is an exciting step giving leaders right here in Southern California the power to provide better rail transportation and connectivity for our passengers,” said David Golonski, chairman of the LOSSAN board of directors. “As we work to make riding the rails a more convenient option, we are confident that managing the service locally will lead to more people hopping aboard the popular Pacific Surfliner.”
LOSSAN agency leaders say that locally focused management will help prioritize capital-improvement projects to benefit the entire corridor, and also improve coordination with connecting commuter rail and transit providers. It will also provide better oversight of mechanical and operating issues and scheduling to enhance on-time performance.
Funding for the service will continue to come from the state of California. In addition, Caltrans will retain key roles for statewide rail planning, coordination between state-supported rail services and funding oversight. The Pacific Surfliner serves 27 stations along a 351-mile route through six counties: San Diego, Orange, Los Angeles, Ventura, Santa Barbara and San Luis Obispo. With 23 daily trains, the Pacific Surfliner has a ridership of more than 2.7 million passengers annually – topped in popularity only by Amtrak’s Northeast Corridor operating between Boston, New York and Washington, D.C.
“This agreement is about engaging our local transportation partners in building a more integrated, statewide transportation system that links to revolutionary investments, such as California high-speed rail,” said California State Transportation Agency Secretary Brian P. Kelly. “Through this partnership, our local partners are showing leadership in supporting transportation integration, which paves the way for a viable public transportation option for traveling between regions of the state.”
Cities along the LOSSAN rail line are also served by Metrolink and the Coaster commuter rail services, which carry an additional 4.5 million riders each year.
The LOSSAN Agency is a joint powers authority, formed in 1989, that works to increase ridership, revenue, reliability and coordination of rail services along the corridor. The agency is governed by an 11-member board representing rail owners, operators and planning agencies from San Diego to San Luis Obispo.
“Amtrak looks forward to working with the LOSSAN Rail Agency on the Pacific Surfliner service,” said Jay Commer, Amtrak’s Senior Vice President & General Manager of State Supported Services. “We will continue to provide excellent services to the passengers, the state of California and the joint powers authorities.”
Senate Bill 1225, the state legislation calling for the transfer of administrative duties was signed by Gov. Jerry Brown in 2012 and mandated the change by June 30, 2015. The bill was authored by then-Senator Alex Padilla (D-Pacoima).
Another of the state’s major rail lines – the San Joaquin rail corridor running through Bakersfield, Fresno, Modesto, Stockton, Sacramento and Oakland – also will come under local control through another joint powers agreement in that region.