Published September 15, 2009
Volume 17, Number 9

ACE Rail Promotes Tri-Valley Commuting from New Hacienda Office       
Commuters from Stockton to San Jose Discovering the Joys of Taking the Train to Work

D’Andre Berry enjoys a seat on the model train car in the new
Hacienda ACE Rail office.

By Nicole Zaro Stahl

Most people associate Altamont Commuter Express (ACE) trains with a trip across the Altamont Pass, but even though the line originates in Stockton, its six stops from Livermore to San Jose make it a Tri-Valley commuting option as well.

A new office in Hacienda will help the organization bring that point home to thousands of potential riders who are either unaware of the service or need additional information before stepping out of the comfort zone of the daily auto commute.

“For the past 10 years, our main audience has been the San Joaquin Valley, but times have changed,” observes Thomas Reeves, Strategic Development and Communications Coordinator for the San Joaquin Regional Rail Commission, which owns and operates the line. “The Tri-Valley is not only a destination but a point of origin for people going elsewhere—to Fremont or Santa Clara, for example. And with the number of businesses in the Tri-Valley growing, these have become important markets for us.”

The challenge for the Stockton-based organization has been how to recruit new passengers on this side of the Altamont from its location on the other. Surveys have shown that word-of-mouth, not advertising, is the most effective promotional tool. Reeves hit on the idea of opening an office in Hacienda, the heart of the target market, to serve as a launching pad for initiatives out into the community. 

“The best way to inform people about ACE is to partner with major business groups and employers, so they can do the cheerleading for us with their own employees,” Reeves explains. The new outpost, in Suite 340 at 4305 Hacienda Drive, will be the hub of outreach efforts to area businesses and organizations “to get people interested in our programs and show employers and employees what we’re about.”

From a vastly improved on-time performance record (now over 90 percent) to a pilot program of WiFi- equipped cars, ACE rail has a good story to tell. Its campaign will highlight the comfort and convenience of its service. On display in the office will be an actual-size interior train segment, so people can try out the seats and table arrangements to see how much laptop space is available. Other amenities include bathrooms and drinking water. “We’ve been told that we have the cleanest cars in the nation. With the average time spent being 90 minutes each way, the train had better be comfortable, clean, and efficient,” Reeves remarks. “Our passengers watch movies, sleep, talk with friends. We have even had a couple get married as a result of meeting on the ACE train.”

While functioning primarily as planning and meeting space for its outreach efforts, the Hacienda office will be open to the public, but visitors should call first as its business hours will be limited.  Staffing it will be Thomas or one of his colleagues, all practicing what they preach—taking the ACE train from Stockton to the Pleasanton stop by the Fairgrounds, and then connecting via a free WHEELS shuttle to Hacienda.

For more information, visit www.acerail.com, or call (925) 469-0851. 


Also in this issue ...