Facts about the Proposed Santa Cruz County Passenger Train
The Santa Cruz County Regional Transportation Commission (SCCRTC) is studying the feasibility of passenger rail transit service along the existing Santa Cruz Branch Rail Line. The SCCRTC purchased the rail corridor in 2012 making it publicly owned property. A “passenger rail feasibility” study proposing 7 different commuter rail scenarios was done to address how rail transit might further transportation goals for the county. The proposed train does not meet minimum requirements to be eligible for Federal Transit Administration funding so all funding for construction and operation of the train would be from Santa Cruz taxpayers. Santa Cruz taxpayers would have to approve a local County transportation tax ballot measure requiring a 67% “yes” vote for a 1/2% tax dedicated to rail alone. During a review meeting in Watsonville with City representatives, it was communicated that Watsonville would not support a rail tax unless the rail serviced Watsonville. Of the 7 considered scenarios, only one of the recommended scenarios (Scenario G) serviced Watsonville. For this reason, we use RTC study data for Scenario G for discussion. Below are highlights from the study and meeting discussions.
- 60 diesel-powered (not electric) trains per day traveling at 45-60 mph (source: SCCRTC)
- No impact on Highway 1 traffic. Passenger train ridership is estimated at most to be 2,500 round-trip train passengers per day versus 100,000 cars per day on Highway 1.
- Major hazards exist with 60 trains a day traveling through our neighborhoods
- Horns will be blown at distances of 1320 ft (1/4 mile) before all traffic crossings and stations at 96 to 110 decibels (comparable to rock music or power saw 3 feet away) (source: Federal Railroad Administration)
- Bike/pedestrian trail route will be on and off the rail right-of-way because of corridor width limitations and 37 bridges and trestles
Passenger Train Cost
- RTC rail construction cost estimates are unreasonably low, making it less expensive than the nation’s lowest cost light rail system built (San Diego’s Blue Line), in which no rail was replaced (source: US Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis)
- Santa Cruz County rail would be fully replaced and moved 10 feet sideways
- Santa Cruz taxpayers will subsidize each train passenger for $15 ticket (rider pays $2.50)
- Permanent 1⁄2% Sales Tax will be required to build and operate train
- Proposed train construction cost does not meet the minimum requirements to qualify for Federal Transit Admin funding
- Estimated costs do not include: walking/biking trail; new auto/vehicle parking facilities for passenger vehicles; additional security; EMS services; train stations; road infrastructure; additional pedestrian bridge over freeway;additional shuttle buses from stations to connect UCSC, Cabrillo, and general Watsonville area Passenger Train Stops/Local Use
- Rail is adjacent to low populated areas and beach areas
- Rail is not located close to major Santa Cruz County employers or heavily populated areas
- Successful passenger rail requires an area with a population of 1 million (4X the size of Santa Cruz County) dense population and high levels of growth within a metropolitan area to succeed
- Rail noise would be significant. It is reported that BART can be heard 20 blocks away.
- The train would change the serenity, character and fabric of Santa Cruz County
More info at Rail Trail Friends HERE >> http://www.aptosrailtrail.com/
Here is a video that provides additional information on why a train is not feasible on the Santa Cruz Rail Corridor:
Last revised: September 27, 2015
Prepared by: Rail Trail Friends