Published July 20, 2010
Volume 18, Number 7

New Rider Program Offers Free ACE Test Drive   

Here is another tool in the quest for stress-free, convenient, and environmentally responsible commuting: a free Test Drive ticket valid for three consecutive days of travel on any ACE (Altamont Commuter Express) train and connecting shuttle bus. The offer is part of Hacienda’s New Rider program, which provides incentives to promote commute alternatives.

ACE is the rail line that originates in Stockton and terminates in San Jose. With stops in Lathrop/Manteca, Tracy, Vasco Road, Livermore, and Pleasanton—along with a host of onboard amenities—it is becoming an increasingly attractive transit option for commuters from areas east of Hacienda. In the morning, three peak-hour trains arrive in Pleasanton opposite the Fairgrounds at 5:31, 6:46, and 7:51. The WHEELS #54 bus route is timed to coordinate with the arrivals to shuttle passengers to various drop-off points in Hacienda. Return trains leave the Fairgrounds station at 4:26, 5:26, and 6:26 p.m.

Operated by the San Joaquin Regional Rail Commission (SJRRC), ACE trains boast numerous passenger-friendly features designed to transform commuting from a daily grind into a relaxing experience. Specially designated cars with dim lighting allow travelers to catch up on their sleep or engage in quiet activity. Other cars have sections with table seating and power receptacles so commuters can plug in their laptops and get a head start on the day's work—or be more sociable with a few rounds of cards or animated conversation. Bike cars, clearly marked on the outside, provide secured stalls for up to 14 bikes, and even regular coach cars have four bike spaces on their lower levels. Climate controlled at 70 degrees, all cars are equipped with drinking fountains, restrooms, and trash bins, and are accessible for persons with disabilities.

“We’ve been told that we have the cleanest cars in the nation,” comments Thomas Reeves, SJRRC's strategic development and communications coordinator. “With the average time spent being 90 minutes each way, the train had better be comfortable, clean, and efficient. 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.”

The Test Drive ticket is available to Hacienda employees who have not previously participated in the program. For an online link to the enrollment form, go to www.hacienda.org/services/services_commute_rider.html. On receiving the completed form, ACE will send back an email with printable tickets good for three consecutive rides to redeem on board the train. Shuttle connections are also free, and many stations offer free parking.

Once passengers discover how carefree their commute can be, they can realize additional savings by purchasing Monthly or 20-Ride Tickets. The ACE Loyalty Reward Program offers a 12th month free when buying 11 consecutive Monthly Tickets.

While ACE is primarily a commute option operating Monday through Friday, occasionally the trains run on weekends for special events. The August 14th AT&T San Jose Jazz Fest is one example. Just $22 covers the round-trip rail fare and festival admission. For times and other details, visit www.acerail.com or call (800) 411-RAIL.

Commuters coming to park from other directions can also find information on those transit options and other New Rider benefits at the Hacienda web site referenced above.


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