Friday, March 23 , 2018, 5:52 am | Fair 50º


Dennis Story: All Aboard for National Train Day Fun

Ride the rails for a quick round trip Saturday morning between Santa Barbara and Carpinteria

Saturday marks Amtrak’s second annual National Train Day, and events around the country will celebrate America’s love for rail travel.

Dennis Story
Dennis Story

The South Coast will be joining in the festivities with a free children’s festival at the Santa Barbara train station, 209 State St., and a news conference featuring elected officials from Santa Barbara and Ventura. The event is hosted by CoastalRailNow, the Coalition for Sustainable Transportation (COAST), and the Alliance for Sustainable and Equitable Regional Transportation (ASERT), and is designed to foster a dialogue between the community and its representatives on rail issues, while reintroducing the public to trains as a viable and vital means of transportation.

National Train Day marks 140 years of connecting travelers from coast to coast, and it commemorates the day the first transcontinental railroad was completed, on May 10, 1869, with the driving of the “Last Spike” at Promontory Summit, Utah. The history of train travel has been fraught with uneven funding, but even in a struggling economy, Amtrak posted a 10 percent growth in ridership in 2008. More and more Californians are discovering the important and growing role passenger rail plays in helping us move around the state. In locales throughout California, voters have responded by passing measures to fund commuter rail; statewide, voters have backed funding for high-speed rail.

President Obama has shown a renewed commitment to rail, and it is reflected in the stimulus and national funding priorities. Rail recently received $8 billion, with Obama’s promise that that is only a down payment. But as the train pulls into the station on National Train Day, it is up to all of us to keep the pressure on to ensure Santa Barbara and Ventura counties aren’t left behind on a local level. With active participation from the community in Saturday’s festivities, we can help make the dream of efficient, sustainable regional transportation a reality.

National Train Day will encourage rail travel with a 25 percent discount on such travel Saturday. You can check it out for yourself Saturday with a round trip ride between the Santa Barbara train station and the Carpinteria depot, 475 Linden Ave. The southbound Surfliner leaves the Santa Barbara station at 9:20 a.m., with the northbound train departing Carpinteria at 9:57 a.m. for the return trip. Saturday’s children’s festival opens at 10:20 a.m. Saturday at the Santa Barbara station, with the arrival of the northbound Surfliner.

Click here to order tickets or call 800.872.7245; use code V321 when prompted. For more information, contact Katherine Holland with ASERT at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) or call 310.980.2192.

— Dennis Story is chairman of CoastalRailNow.

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