The Altamont Corridor Express (ACE) passenger rail service will be expanding its service to include downtown Modesto. The extension of service will also include Manteca, Turlock, and Merced. Currently, ACE does not have passenger service south of Manteca. The estimated time frame for service to start in these areas is 2023 however, they are optimistic that they will be well ahead of that date.
A recent celebration was hosted in Modesto at the Gallo Center for the Arts to welcome the ACE train expansion to downtown Modesto. DoMo (Downtown Modesto Partnership) along with the City of Modesto, Stanislaus County, Modesto Chamber of Commerce, StanCog, and the Hispanic Chamber of Commerce put on the event which featured guest speakers, food and refreshments.
Riverbank Mayor Richard O’Brien attended the event as well as California State Transportation Agency Secretary Brian Kelly, Senator Anthony Cannella, Senator Cathleen Galgiani, and Assemblymember Adam Gray.
O’Brien expressed that Secretary Brian Kelly with the State Transportation Agency gave an informative speech, hitting all the pertinent points.
“The event was well put together,” said O’Brien. “I would have liked to hear more from Senator Anthony Cannella, who really pushed to get the ACE train to Modesto. I am excited about the ACE train expanding into Modesto.”
The ACE train expanding into Modesto does not directly affect the local Riverbank-Oakdale-Escalon communities; however, it will provide an alternative method of transportation to the Bay Area, Silicon Valley and other places in the surrounding area which could lead to other opportunities. The accessibility of the train could also entice people in other areas to move to the region, which is more affordable than the Bay area.
“My only concerns are on the operation and maintenance costs,” added O’Brien. “Where are the funds going to come from to operate and maintain the ACE train? They will have to come up with some type of funding scheme.”
A press release issued by ACE regarding the expansion plan stated that due to the hard work of California State Senator Anthony Canella (R-Ceres), California State Assemblyman Adam Gray (D-Merced), and California State Senator Cathleen Galgiani (D-Stockton), the Altamont Corridor Express (ACE) will be receiving $400 million for service expansion as a key component of the Transportation Funding Measure (SB 1) which was approved by the Legislature.
The ACE train runs four daily round trips starting at the Cabral Station in Downtown Stockton, through the Tri-Valley, and into Downtown San Jose. According to ACE officials they are currently carrying over 1.3 million riders a year which has doubled since 2011. The Bay Area Council released the Northern California Megaregion report in 2016, highlighting that over 65,000 drivers cross the Altamont Pass on Interstate 580 every single day. More train service will hopefully decrease that vehicle commuter number, leading to improved air quality and less congested highways.