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3 months ago

Why isn't there a decent train to and from San Francisco? : Hey all, I was born in Sacramento but have lived in various other places. I somewhat recently came back to Sacramento and I haven't kept up with Sacramento news / popular opinion for a while, so I apologize ahead of time if this question has been asked a hundred times over. The last time I drove to San Francisco, it took two and a half hours to get to my destination near Golden Gate Park and it took me three and a half hours to get home. Between the cost of gas, the ~~troll tolls~~ Bay Bridge and Vallejo Bridge fees, parking, and the stress of actively trying not to die in Dixon traffic, it sucked. I don't frequently drive to SF or the bay area either, and I imagine that this really, really sucks for those among us that commute this distance. ​ I started looking into mass transit options, and, well they don't seem great. There's Greyhound, but that's a $27 round trip, not including the $18 fee that Greyhound charges for bestowing upon you the privilege of buying your tickets ahead of time. And, well, the bus is also subject to traffic. There's also Amtrak "Capital Corridor", but that's a $66 round trip. ​ I had the opportunity of living in New Mexico for quite some time. In NM, there is a train that runs a similar distance as the distance between Sacramento and SF (Belen and Santa Fe). It's owned and operated by NMDOT and works rather well: travel times are similar to car travel (and faster when traffic is bad), but you can relax, sip coffee, and browse reddit while moving along. The last time I took it, the roughly 200 mile round trip was $8 with my student ID (I think full cost is $10); it was cheaper than driving. This isn't to say that the Rail Runner is perfect. There were a lot of capital costs for building it which the state has a difficult time paying back. It also operates on a deficit, generating roughly $3M per year in revenue but costing $28M per year to operate. The rest comes from federal grants and the state budget. ​ Looking at Capitol Corridor's performance numbers last year, it earned $34M in revenue and cost $60M to operate. I know that Amtrak subsidies are a controversial issue, but I'll say this: we're paying quite a lot in subsidies for a for-profit company which provides an essential (to some) service, and the product is not affordable. I'm wondering how an at-cost / not-for-profit model such as New Mexico's could be applied here. Not knowing much about it (or anything, really), it seems like the capital costs would be relatively low compared to what it took to set up the Rail Runner as the Rail Runner took a lot of new track, all of the stations, etc. ​ So here's my questions:If there was and affordable train between Roseville/Sacramento and Richmond BART / Concord BART / Emeryville BART or bus, would you take it? Why or why not? What would be a reasonable travel time? What's the most (ticket cost) you would pay for a round trip? If the service is subsidized, how should ticket prices be determined? Keeping ticket revenue, subsidies, etc. at a break-even with costs? Raise the price of the tickets to something "high but reasonable" to try and minimize subsidies? Would you want CA DOT to have the power to own and operate such a thing? Or should this be privately run? Full Article

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