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Commuter Surfliner Trains Between Ventura and Santa Barbara Counties Still on Track

Long-sought Amtrak service aimed at workers living in Ventura County and working in Santa Barbara County is scheduled to begin April 2

New Amtrak train schedules geared to commuters between Ventura and Santa Barbara counties are on track to begin April 2. The route will include the Goleta station, above, where bus service will be provided to nearby employment centers. Click to view larger
New Amtrak train schedules geared to commuters between Ventura and Santa Barbara counties are on track to begin April 2. The route will include the Goleta station, above, where bus service will be provided to nearby employment centers. (Brooke Holland / Noozhawk photo)

New train schedules for commuters traveling from Ventura County to Santa Barbara County are on track to begin April 2, with special introductory rates and a pilot bike-sharing program.

The peak-hour Amtrak Pacific Surfliner passenger train is scheduled to run Monday through Friday at all major stations between Los Angeles and the city of Goleta.

The idea began in 2014, and launched in an effort to alleviate vehicle traffic on Highway 101, said Scott Spaulding, rail and transit manager for the Santa Barbara Association of Governments.

“We have a lot of congestion on the 101 now, and this rescheduled service is coming at the right time,” Spaulding said. “We have a new normal following the (Jan. 9) debris flow … It’s a different commute that we are hearing from people coming up from Ventura County.”

The Goleta City Council on Tuesday heard a presentation on the adjusted schedule, a partnership between the Santa Barbara County Association of Governments, the California State Transportation Agency, and the Los Angeles – San Diego – San Luis Obispo Rail Corridor (LOSSAN).

The northbound train will arrive in Simi Valley at 5:19 a.m., Moorpark at 5:31 a.m., Camarillo at 5:46 a.m., Oxnard at 5:58 a.m., Ventura at 6:12 a.m., Carpinteria at 6:34 a.m., Santa Barbara at 6:47 a.m., and Goleta between 7 a.m. and 7:16 a.m. 

Spaulding said rail delays are possible, and the Goleta arrival will often be earlier than scheduled.

“There is padding in every schedule,” Spaulding said. “A lot of the padding is in the last stop between Santa Barbara and Goleta.”

The southbound train will depart Goleta at 4:25 p.m., Santa Barbara at 4:40 p.m., Carpinteria at 4:55 p.m., Ventura at 5:26 p.m., Oxnard at 5:40 p.m., Camarillo at 5:56 p.m., Moorpark at 6:25 p.m., and Simi Valley at 6:41 p.m.

About 480 seats — including business-class — are available on the Pacific Surfliner, according to Spaulding.

Daily Pacific Surfliner round-trip services are offered between Ventura and Santa Barbara counties at different times during the day. 

SBCAG, in conjunction with the Santa Barbara Metropolitan Transit District, developed a 2-year bus service agreement for riders commuting to the Santa Barbara and Goleta stations.

“That’s free, just show your rail pass,” Spaulding said.

For passengers at the Goleta station, two separate bus trips will provide services east and west along Hollister Avenue to employment centers such as the Goleta Corporate Park area and Old Town Goleta, including the Goleta Valley Cottage Hospital area.

“The biggest group of people who were waiting for this was our businesses in Goleta,” Goleta Councilman Rodger Aceves said on Tuesday.

Train passes are valid on all Ventura County Transportation Commission Coastal Express buses, which serve locations in Goleta, Santa Barbara, Carpinteria and Ventura.

The train can fit seven standard-sized bicycles on board, Spaulding said, and bike spots on the train are available by reservation only.

SBCAG’s Traffic Solutions Division is working with the cities of Santa Barbara and Goleta to install additional bike lockers at the train stations.

Several new lockers will be available to passengers who want to secure their bike at the stations overnight. 

Remaining lockers may be used for a bike-sharing program.

Special pricing will be offered by SBCAG to encourage train ridership.

Discounts are available for monthly passes and 10-ride passes for riders traveling between the two counties, and for those who commute from Carpinteria to Santa Barbara and Goleta. 

SBCAG’s Traffic Solutions Division is also offering free 10-ride trial passes throughout April.

More than 1,100 commuters signed up for the pass, Spaulding said as of Tuesday.

“This has exceeded our expectations,” he said about the number of people interested.

To fund the two-year pilot period, SBCAG is working with LOSSAN to develop an agreement of Measure A money available to fund the SBCAG share of the additional cost, which is driven mainly by the need to employ additional crew, according to Goleta’s staff report.

“I’m optimistic that this is going to go great,” said Goleta Councilman Michael Bennett, who sits on the LOSSAN board.

Noozhawk staff writer Brooke Holland can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.

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