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Aiming to serve non-commuters as well
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Dan Leavitt, right, who is the Manager of the Regional Initiatives, listen to concerns on the ACEforward project at Tuesdays public scoping meeting in Tracy. - photo by VINCE REMBULAT

Darryl Bain is thrilled at the possibility of the Altamont Corridor Express rail coming into downtown Manteca in the not-so-distant future.

He lives a hop, skip and jump from the newly-built transit station on Moffat Boulevard, which, if all goes accordingly, could be an ACE train stop by as early as 2018 under the extended service plan through the Central Valley communities including downtown Manteca, Modesto, Turlock, and Merced.

Bain continues to use the ACE station at 17800 Shideler Parkway in Lathrop, taking commuter rail to San Jose and hopping aboard CalTrain to San Francisco.

He attended his second public scoping session Tuesday conducted by the San Joaquin Regional Rail Commission at the Tracy Transit  Center. Bain also went to the one held last week in Modesto.

So far, he likes the ACEforward project.

“This is literally going to tie in everything in terms of the railway system,” Bain said.

This includes Amtrak, CalTrain, Bay Area Rapid Transit, and the California high-speed rail plan that would initially link Merced to Fresno and Bakersfield.

Dan Leavitt, who is the Manager of the Regional Initiatives, said the purpose of the public meetings – all told, five were conducted in places such as Santa Clara, Fremont, Modesto, Livermore, and Tracy – was to gather public comments on the scope or the Environmental Review Process in compliance with the California Environmental Quality Act and the National Environmental Policy Act.

“Our goal would be to improve on the existing ACE service,” he said.

Currently, four trains make the round-trip weekday commute from Stockton to San Jose, with stops in between including Lathrop, Tracy, Livermore, Pleasanton, and Centerville / Fremont.

By 2018, ACE hopes to expand as far south as downtown Modesto with a total of six trains making the commute run.

Services could then extend to Merced by as early as 2022, with 10 trains making the daily round-trip runs from Stockton to San Jose.

Leavitt, who would like to see ACE stops along the various downtowns throughout the Central Valley, noted that improving on the existing services could mean reduced travel time, improved service reliability, increased service reliability and frequency, improved passenger facilities, and extended reach of the rail system.

“We want to be available to all passengers and not just commuters,” he said.

Leavitt added that ACE does have weekend runs but only for special events such as the San Jose Jazz Festival. Next year, Santa Clara services to Levi Stadium, the new home of the San Francisco 49ers football squad, will kick in on game days.

As for funding, fares make up about 38 percent of the ACE revenue. Other sources include the San Joaquin County Measure K (14 percent), Santa Clara VTA local (17 percent), ACTC Measure B local (16 percent), local transportation (3.7 percent), and Federal Section 5307 (3.5 percent).

Funding from the California high-speed rail bond helped defray cost for the Environmental Review Process, according to Leavitt.

The public scoping meetings were held to educate folks on the project and to provide feedback. Comments on the environment review – the first step of the process necessary to launch the ACEforward program – will be accepted through Aug. 16.

Additional comments can be sent via e-mail under the subject line “ACEforward EIR/EIS” to: