Frequently Asked Questions
What is a Rail Trail?
A rail trail is a multi-use bike and pedestrian path in a rail corridor. There are two basic types: a rail trail where the tracks have been removed, and rail with trail, where trains and trail function together in the same corridor. FORT advocates for rail with trail so that we can benefit from the transit advantages of both trains and bicycles.
Where would the Santa Cruz Rail Trail go?
The Santa Cruz Branch Line runs 31 miles from Davenport to Watsonville, mostly along the coast (where most of our population lives). The trail would be a multi use trail for cyclists, pedestrians, and light rail, as well as passenger rail connecting Santa Cruz County locations to Monterey and, eventually, to State-wide high speed rail, connecting in Gilroy.
How can the Rail Trail Become a Reality?
The Santa Cruz County Regional Transportation Commission (SCCRTC) has agreed to purchase the rail corridor from Union Pacific. The California Transportation Commission has approved the SCCRTC request for Prop 116 funds for the purchase.
How will the SCCRTC pay for the corridor?
Proposition 116 was passed by voters in 1990. Santa Cruz County has banked approximately $11 million that can only be used for rail projects. The SCCRTC has asked Sacramento to fund the coastal rail line purchase with this money.
What impacts will the proposed tourist train have on the community?
The Environmental Impact Report (EIR) shows that, with minor mitigation, the environmental impacts are “less than significant” in every category (noise, pollution, and traffic). As you would expect, the train has about the same impact as a bus.
One important benefit of adding train and trail is an increase in property values. Trails and train stations nearly always increase the value of nearby homes according to studies by the National Association of Home Builders and Nat’l Assn. of Realtors.
Students will benefit as well since there are 14 local schools within half a mile of the rail corridor. Instead of riding in a car to school, kids can get healthy again and ride bikes to school.