ACE Train 6-20-08 018

The San Joaquin Regional Rail Commission was selected to manage the operation of the future Valley Link commuter rail service. (Photo - Doug Jorgensen)

REGIONAL — The Tri-Valley-San Joaquin Valley Regional Rail Authority Board recently voted to enter into an arrangement with the San Joaquin Regional Rail Commission (SJRRC).

The SJRRC will now manage the operation of future Valley Link commuter rail service connecting the Tri-Valley with the San Joaquin Valley.

The SJRRC has served as the policy-making body for the Altamont Corridor Express (ACE) service for more than 20 years and took a similar action at their December Board meeting.

“One of the reasons that I am excited about this, having served on the ACE Board for 24 years, is that there is a trust factor knowing that ACE is one of the premier rail lines in the State of California if not the entire United States,” said Scott Haggerty, Rail Authority Board chair. “Entering into the agreement at this early point in the project enables SJRRC to provide input into project development and achieve safe, efficient and cost-effective operations.”

The Regional Rail Authority Board noted a number of reasons why the Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with SJRRC was advantageous for the Valley Link project. One of them includes ACE’s exemplary safety record in managing the operations of both the ACE commuter rail service for over 20 years and the Amtrak San Joaquins for over seven years.

“A key Valley Link goal is project implementation that is fast, cost-effective and responsive to the goals and objectives of the communities it will serve,” said Veronica Vargas, current Rail Authority vice chair. “Valley Link is essential to our post-pandemic economic recovery, and I believe this partnership with ACE will help us to meet our goals and support our communities and struggling workforce.”

Under the terms of the MOU, the Regional Rail Authority Board remains the owner of the Valley Link service and is responsible for all governance and project funding, policies, planning, development, implementation and service decisions.

The Tri-Valley-San Joaquin Valley Regional Rail Authority was created by the California Legislature in 2017 with the passage of Assembly Bill 758, co-authored by Assemblywoman Catharine Baker, R-San Ramon and Assemblywoman Susan Eggman, D-Stockton. The authority’s primary purpose is to plan, develop and deliver cost-effective transit connectivity between the San Joaquin Valley and the Bay Area.

The Authority is governed by a Board of Directors appointed by its 15-member agencies, including: the Town of Danville; the cities of San Ramon, Dublin, Pleasanton, Livermore, Tracy, Manteca, Lathrop and Stockton; the Mountain House Community Services District; the counties of Alameda and San Joaquin; the Livermore Amador Valley Transit Authority (LAVTA); the San Francisco Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART); and ACE.

The Valley Link project would include seven stations along 42 miles of track, connecting the existing Dublin/Pleasanton BART Station to the proposed ACE North Lathrop Station. Trains would be scheduled to allow for convenient transfers to BART. The first Valley Link trains could be placed into service in 2028.

The total cost of the Tri-Valley portion of Valley Link is estimated at $1.2 billion. Of that, about $708 million in funding for the project has been secured, including an allocation of $400 million in Measure BB funds. The Alameda County Transportation Commission (ACTC) in September voted to reallocate those funds originally earmarked for the proposed BART to Livermore extension.

When built, Valley Link will carry 33,000 passengers a day in 2040, reducing vehicle miles traveled by 99.3 million each year and eliminating between 33,000 to 42,000 metric tons of greenhouse gas emissions (GHG) per year, depending on the vehicle technology selected. Currently, the Regional Rail Authority is considering three technologies that include two zero-emission technologies: battery/electric and hydrogen.

A recent Economic Impact Study performed by PGH Wong found that during construction, Valley Link will create 22,000 jobs with an economic impact on the region of $3.5 billion. During service, Valley Link will create 400 jobs and an economic impact of $69 million per year.

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