An advocacy coalition has been formed by the three California agencies that manage the Amtrak-operated Capitol Corridor, Pacific Surfliner and San Joaquins intercity rail services.
The California’s Intercity Rail Corridors Linking Everyone (CIRCLE) coalition seeks to “educate federal policymakers on the unique nature of Amtrak state-supported services, raise awareness of California’s growing passenger rail system and proposed capital investments, and build stronger relationships with national intercity rail stakeholders,” said founders Capitol Corridor Joint Powers Authority (CCJPA), Los Angeles–San Diego–San Luis Obispo (LOSSAN) Rail Corridor Agency, and San Joaquin Joint Powers Authority (SJJPA) on Oct. 20.
The state has invested more than $3.2 billion in improving its intercity passenger rail network over the past four decades, and pre-pandemic, one out of every five Amtrak riders boarded a train there, according to the agencies.
CCJPA manages the Capitol Corridor route between San Jose, Oakland, Sacramento and Auburn; LOSSAN Rail Corridor Agency manages the Pacific Surfliner route between San Diego, Los Angeles and San Luis Obispo; and SJJPA manages the San Joaquins route between Bakersfield, Oakland and Sacramento.
Together, their three routes carried more than 5.6 million riders in fiscal year 2019, and the corridors all respectively rank in the top 10 in ridership in the nation, the agencies reported. The LOSSAN corridor alone carries more than 2.5 million passengers each year. The three California routes are responsible for nearly 50% of Amtrak’s state-supported business unit revenue, the agencies noted.
“We look forward to working together with our sister agencies to raise awareness about our growing rail corridor services and the important role our state plays in maintaining Amtrak’s state-supported services,” said Donna DeMartino, Managing Director of the LOSSAN Rail Corridor Agency. “As the nation’s largest intercity rail corridor outside of the Northeast, I am committed to working with my colleagues to ensure that our national policies allow us to continue to provide innovative and modern passenger services and amenities to our growing ridership bases.”
“Our intercity rail corridor services are leading the way in providing more affordable and equitable access to transportation, enhancing connectivity across transportation modes, and helping to reduce our state and nation’s carbon footprint,” SJJPA Executive Director Stacey Mortensen said. “We have found that we are most effective in telling our story when we act as one voice, I am looking forward to jointly enhancing our advocacy and collaboration in Washington.”
“During my work on the Northeast Corridor Commission, I learned firsthand the power passenger rail voices can have if they come together around shared priorities and principles,” CCJPA Managing Director Robert Padgette said. “I believe CIRCLE will help fill a gap in intercity passenger rail advocacy by ensuring that the voice of the nation’s leading state for intercity passenger rail has a seat at the table. We must do more to educate the nation about our leading and growing service corridors.”