Senators Request Higher Profile, State-Led Action for Coastal Rail Line
State must take a leadership role in managing the rail corridor and the agencies involved, senators say in letter to the administration
SACRAMENTO – A Senate subcommittee chaired by Sen. Catherine Blakespear, D-Encinitas, and tasked with improving support for the coastal rail line that runs from San Diego to San Luis Obispo has called on a state agency to take a leadership role in managing the line and the many transportation agencies involved with it.
In a letter (attached) sent Tuesday to the California State Transportation Agency (CalSTA), the bipartisan Senate Transportation Subcommittee on LOSSAN Rail Corridor Resiliency said the three hearings it held in 2023 showed the many challenges threatening the nation’s second-busiest intercity rail service and the need for greater state leadership to plan for the future.
Hosting 8.3 million passengers at its peak in 2019, the 351-mile line is now carrying fewer than 4 million passengers a year. The LOSSAN line, which stands for Los Angeles-San Diego-San Luis Obispo, has been hurt by lack of coordinated support and track closures, the letter said.
“It is clear that a formalized partnership, with required deliverables, between the State, CalSTA, LOSSAN Rail Corridor Agency, track owners, and operators is needed for the corridor to achieve its goals. We respectfully request that all existing authorities available to CalSTA be utilized to begin that effort immediately. Additionally, we ask that CalSTA identify where future legislative action may be necessary for CalSTA to effectively manage the rail corridor and ensure all stakeholders are working together toward a shared vision,” the letter said.
The letter requests that the state transportation agency prepare a plan with formalized partnerships and required deliverables between all the partners to achieve shared performance and ridership goals.
“I appreciate Governor Newsom and Secretary Omishakin’s continued engagement with the Legislature in supporting the coastal rail corridor,” Blakespear said. “If we’re serious about fighting climate change and improving public transportation options, we need to invest time and resources into this existing rail corridor. The LOSSAN corridor has potential to offer substantially more train service to more people. Declining ridership from infrequent or inconvenient train times, and lack of reliability due to track closures, is a major problem that deserves our urgent attention.”
The letter is signed by the members of the subcommittee and Senate President pro Tempore Toni Atkins, D-San Diego.
“The LOSSAN rail corridor,” Atkins said, “is a critical rail lifeline for freight goods, as well as for commuters and visitors looking to enjoy climate-friendly ways to travel the coast between San Diego, Los Angeles and San Luis Obispo. We urgently need to develop a unified vision that will allow the rail corridor – which is critical to our regional economy and national security – to better serve the communities it connects and protect it from the impacts of sea level rise.”
The members of the subcommittee are Sens. Ben Allen, Monique Limón, Josh Newman, Janet Nguyen and Thomas Umberg. Atkins secured a $300 million state investment to support the rail line in San Diego in 2022 and last year approved the creation of the Senate transportation subcommittee.
Elected in 2022, Sen. Blakespear represents Senate District 38, which covers northern San Diego County and part of Orange County. To learn more about the district and Sen. Blakespear, visit her Senate website.