OCTA CEO: Local control key to rail service integration

Posted on October 30, 2012 by Will Kempton

Advancements in transportation technology have reduced emissions, improved on-time performance and enhanced safety. While these are important components of our transit systems, meeting the needs of the 21st Century requires a commensurate shift in our approach to the way we administer our transportation services — service must be convenient and easy to use for the passengers.

In Southern California, three commuter rail operators have successfully offered service to passengers for decades along a single rail corridor. However, with three operators come three independent schedules and pricing structures.

This can lead to confusion among customers who are unfamiliar with the systems. When a rider boards a train, they are not concerned with the name painted on the side, but if that train will take them to their destination.

A new bill signed by Gov. Jerry Brown at the end of September will help eliminate confusion and integrate the services along the Los Angeles-San Diego-San Luis Obispo rail corridor, known as LOSSAN.

The bill, SB 1224 (Padilla, D-Los Angeles), creates a joint powers authority, the LOSSAN Rail Corridor Agency to govern all train services along the rail line, including administering the state-funded Amtrak service.

The LOSSAN corridor is the second busiest passenger rail line in the nation. It stretches 351 miles from San Luis Obispo to San Diego, connecting major metropolitan areas of Southern California and the Central Coast.

The legislation is modeled after the successful Capital Corridor Rail Joint Powers Authority in Northern California that has increased service frequency and ridership and reduced costs since it was established in the mid-1990s.

The LOSSAN corridor agencies pursued the legislation to bring services under local control to be more responsive to the area’s needs and consumer desires.

Local management of these services will result in:

•    More efficient and effective use of resources related to service expansion, frequencies, extensions, connectivity and schedules.

•    Improved passenger services, ticketing, marketing and information systems.

•    More focused oversight and management of on-time performance, schedule integration and customer service.

•    A unified voice when advocating for passenger rail issues at the state and federal level.

This legislation provides the parameters to enhance rail service for the seven million riders who travel along the rail line each year and entice future transit users to jump on board.

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