Published August 22, 2000
Volume 8, Number 8

Altamont Commuter Express Train to Begin Third Daily Run in Coming Months

The Altamont Commuter Express, a rail connection between Stockton and San Jose, will be expanding soon, according to Stacey Mortensen, executive director of ACE. Currently making two trips daily, a third trip is to be added in about two months, contingent upon signing of a track lease, followed by a fourth train anticipated in the summer of 2001. 

The third train will be a boon for Central Valley commuters to Hacienda thanks to its arrival time of 7:40 a.m., just in time for employees who start work at 8:00. 

"The hope for the third train is that people can go to work in the Tri-Valley from the San Joaquin Valley," she says. "This would be a great benefit for Tri-Valley businesses." 

A schedule has yet to be determined for the fourth train.

Since its introduction in October, 1998, ACE has proved a popular alternative for commuters. More than 500 people board the train each day in Pleasanton alone, says Mortensen. 

Issues Near Resolution
There are a few issues that must be resolved before the third train begins running, however. 

"We still are negotiating leasing time on the track," says Mortensen. "The most track congestion is in the Fremont and San Jose areas where the track is used heavily already. 

"Another big issue is where to layover the trains during the day. CalTrain has bought the roundhouse near San Jose that we have been using and that will be their maintenance facility." 

The situation will force ACE to vacate and find another place to park the three trains during the day. 

Neither issue is expected to cause much of a delay, however, and the third train should start running as anticipated.

Two Trains Offered Now
Commuters don't have to wait until for the third train if they'd like to start riding the ACE, however. With the trains' comfortable seating and scenic views, it's easy to see why they have become a top choice of Central Valley commuters.

ACE trains beginning in Stockton and stop in Lathrop, Manteca, Tracy, and Livermore before arriving in Pleasanton at 5:40 and 6:52 am. Those trains continue to San Jose and one makes an immediate return trip, returning from San Jose to Pleasanton for a 7:53 a.m. arrival.

In the evening the trains arrive back in Pleasanton at 5:10 and 6:40 p.m. A fixed-route bus arrives at 7:45 p.m. for people who worked late. 

The Pleasanton ACE station is located on Fairgrounds Avenue, near the Alameda County Fairgrounds. 

Getting to Hacienda is easy, too. WHEELS buses and shuttles meet each arriving train, and park employees are eligible for free WHEELS passes from the Hacienda Owners Association.

A Key is Convenience
To avoid daily hassles with money and ticketing, ACE offers commuters advanced ticketing options where passengers simply validate each trip in an electronic machine at the boarding platform. 

Similarly, ACE offers a variety of other services to complement the rail service. 

For instance, ACE commuters don't need to worry about having to leave work for an emergency if they take the train. ACE has an Emergency Ride Program for monthly-pass commuters. This program, available for limited repeated use, is available between 6 a.m. and 3 p.m. A phone call to ACE at 800-411-RAIL provides ride options including alternate trains, buses, shuttles, rental car or taxi. 

Another helpful program is provided by the Alameda County Congestion Management Agency's Guaranteed Ride Home program. Employees of any Hacienda company which has enrolled in the program have a guaranteed ride home from work when unexpected circumstances arise. 

Finally, ACE offers help through its web site for those who want proof that using an alternative commute can save them money. Check out the Commute Calculator at acerail.com. The site also has complete information about the trains, which may also be received at 1-800-411-RAIL.

Transportation information is also available through the Hacienda web site, including free bus passes from the Hacienda Owner's Association.


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