Letter: Why is rail line the subject of misleading controversy?
To the Editor,
Permit me to offer a rebuttal to the editorial by Gail McNulty, executive director of Greenway (Register-Pajaronian, June 29).
She states that urban transit is on the decline in parts of the country. In the Bay Area, that can’t be further from the truth. Existing rail lines such as the Dumbarton Bridge linking the San Francisco Peninsula with the East Bay are in the state’s master rail plan and plans to restore it for passenger/commuter rail are in the works. This plan also includes the Santa Cruz Branch Rail Line between Davenport and Watsonville. In addition, the State of California is currently working with the Transportation Agency for Monterey County to extend Amtrak and Cal-Train to Watsonville (Pajaro) and Salinas.
Last year, SMART (Sonoma-Marin Area Rail Transit) initiated service on the former Northwestern Pacific rail line and has been overwhelmingly successful in reducing traffic on the Highway 101 corridor between Santa Rosa and San Rafael. SMART is currently expanding service to Larkspur Ferry Terminal with ridership on the line increasing as well.
Greenway has indicated they favor the increased use of buses as a way to relieve traffic congestion on Highway 1 between Santa Cruz and Watsonville. Keep in mind no matter how you slice, dice or cut it, the bus will still be stuck in traffic and will not reduce the delays that drivers currently suffer from. The train is a very viable and attractive alternative and while transit buses have their place in the whole Santa Cruz County pie, they are not as desirable as a clean, environmentally sound train similar to the low emissions diesel, electric or natural gas multiple unit equipment. Another benefit of the Santa Cruz Branch is that it will offer a link to future Cal-Train and Amtrak service in Pajaro, providing a needed inter-city link to the county for commuters and travelers alike. Currently other than Greyhound, no such service exists today.
Ms. McNulty will not tell you that the restoration of passenger rail is supported by the California Coastal Commission, Caltrans and the Sierra Club. From what I read in her editorial, it seems that elitist, well-funded Greenway is politically connected to the Metropolitan Transit District which should be working to establish a bus-rail system and not be influenced by Greenway’s misguided, self-serving agenda.
In closing I wish to say: Why is a entity such as rail being met with so much misleading controversy? This seems to be the norm in the county and only serves as an impediment to an entity that benefits all.
Gary V. Plomp, Gilroy (Published in the Register-Pajaronian, 7/6/18)