Altamont Commuter Express
|Altamont Commuter Express|
|Owner||San Joaquin Regional Rail Commission|
|Locale||San Joaquin Valley
San Francisco Bay Area
Counties: San Joaquin, Alameda, and Santa Clara
|Transit type||Commuter rail|
|Number of lines||1|
|Number of stations||10|
|Daily ridership||3,700 weekdays|
|Operator(s)||Herzog Transit Services|
|Number of vehicles||6 locomotives
25 passenger cars
|Train length||1 locomotive, 6 passenger cars|
|System length||86 mi (138 km)|
|Track gauge||4 ft 8 1⁄2 in (1,435 mm)
|Top speed||79 mph (127 km/h)|
It is named for the Altamont Pass, an area through which it travels. The service commenced on October 19, 1998, with two trains daily in each direction (weekdays only). The frequency was increased in November 2009 to three trains daily in each direction and then increased to four trains daily in each direction in September 2012. There are ten stops along its 86 miles (138 km) route; present travel time is about 2 hours and 10 minutes from end-to-end. The tracks are owned by Union Pacific. ACE uses Bombardier BiLevel Coaches and MPI F40PH-3C locomotives. It is managed by the San Joaquin Regional Rail Commission and operations are contracted to Herzog Transit Services.
History and funding 
The Altamont Commuter Express was established to serve San Joaquin County residents traveling to work at firms in Santa Clara County. Although ACE is intended to serve a more diverse ridership, its trains are presently limited to morning departures from Stockton with subsequent return departures from San Jose in the afternoon. The trains achieved enormous popularity at first and survived a severe drop in ridership due to the dot-com recession of 2002. Struggles with freight traffic interference and track reconstruction prevented the addition of a fourth train. However, in Fiscal Year 2011/2012, the Rail Commission examined the relationship between ridership, the stabilisation (or rise) in employment levels in the Silicon Valley and Tri-Valley areas, and fuel costs, and reported on ways the implementation of a fourth train could be realised. As a result, a fourth train service commenced in September 2012. The operation is funded primarily by local sales taxes, with additional support from state and federal sources.
Service commenced under the governance of the San Joaquin Regional Rail Commission Joint Powers Authority formed in 1997 by Alameda, San Joaquin, and Santa Clara counties. The present Rail Commission has of one member each from the San Joaquin and Alameda county boards of supervisors, one BART representative, and representatives of five cities. Cost sharing for capital projects, excluding stations, during the initial 36 months of service was determined by the ACE Authority on a case by case basis and approved by each of the member agencies. The initial purchase of rolling stock, construction of stations, and other start-up costs, amounting to some $48 million, were covered primarily by a San Joaquin County transportation sales tax approved several years earlier, along with state and federal funding. Cooperative services agreements with the Alameda County Congestion Agency and the Santa Clara Valley Transportation Authority spell out funding of operations, maintenance and capital improvements. Currently, station improvements are the responsibility of the county in which the station is located. ACE pays the owner of the right of way, Union Pacific Railroad, about $1.5 million per year for the rights to run passenger service on the tracks; it also uses about four miles (6 km) of Caltrain track in San Jose.
In Fiscal Year 2006-7 the 675 thousand ACE trips generated fare-box revenues of some $4 million, about 30% of the $13.3 million operating and administrative cost. Most of the annual operating costs are underwritten by San Joaquin, Alameda, and Santa Clara counties in proportion to the boardings and alightings in each county. San Joaquin County funds its $2.32 million contribution from a half-cent transportation sales tax (30% of the tax adopted in 1990 and renewed in 2006 is allocated to bus, bicycle, rail, and pedestrian programs. The Alameda County Congestion Management Authority pays its $1.8 million share from its half-cent transportation sales tax (1.2% of its Measure B budget). Santa Clara County’s $2.6 million share is paid by the Valley Transportation Authority, operator of the county’s light rail and bus system, which also contributes about $1.5 million for shuttle services that take ACE commuters from train stops to job sites. Miscellaneous revenues, of some $2.5 million are supplied from federal and state grants, including Congestion Mitigation and Air Quality funds. Each county absorbs its own administrative costs, estimated at $2.4 million annually.
Stations and rail/shuttle connections 
- Robert J. Cabral Station, Stockton - San Joaquin (Only the two trains per day to/from Sacramento stop at this station; all other trains to/from Oakland stop at the nearby San Joaquin Street station. Amtrak operates a shuttle between the two stations.)
- Vasco Road
- Pleasanton - WHEELS Route 53 to West Dublin/Pleasanton BART station (free transfer from ACE)
- Fremont - Capitol Corridor
- Great America - Capitol Corridor, VTA light rail
- Santa Clara - Caltrain, Capitol Corridor, VTA Route 10 to San Jose Airport (free shuttle)
- Diridon Station, San Jose - Caltrain, Capitol Corridor, Coast Starlight, VTA light rail
Connecting transit 
- Amtrak (Capitol Corridor, Coast Starlight, and San Joaquin)
- Santa Clara Valley Transportation Authority
- AC Transit
- WHEELS (Livermore-Amador Valley Transit Authority)
- County Connection
- Modesto Area Express
- San Joaquin Regional Transit District
- Monterey-Salinas Transit
- Tri-Delta Transit
San Jose to Great America 
The northbound leaves San Jose's Diridon station and heads north on the main peninsula Caltrain tracks through the rail yards in Santa Clara, California. As the train passes under De La Cruz Avenue it leaves the Peninsula tracks and heads north. The train passes over Central Expressway just west of De La Cruz near the end of the runway of San Jose International Airport. The train then passes over U.S. Route 101 and proceeds along Lafayette Street. It passes to the east of California's Great America, a large substation, and the San Francisco 49ers training facility before stopping at the Great America station under the Tasman Drive overpass.
Great America to Fremont 
The train proceeds north along Lafayette Drive passing through a golf course and under Highway 237. It then turns north through the Alviso district of San Jose, passing just east of its abandoned marina. The train then heads out into the mudflats and sloughs of the bay. In the middle of the flats, the train passes through the sunken ghost town of Drawbridge. Next along the route are Cargill's (formerly Leslie's) salt evaporation ponds on both sides of the track where the train turns to the northwest. The train then passes a landfill before entering Newark, California. At Baine Avenue, the train makes a 90o right turn a few hundred yards from the point where the track from the historic Dumbarton rail bridge connects in. The journey continues northeast along Baine Avenue and crosses I-880. Just after crossing Fremont Boulevard, it arrives at the Fremont Amtrak station. A historic sign remains on the portion of the station to the south of the tracks. It refers to the city of Centerville, predating the city of Fremont, and includes the distance to both Ogden, Utah and San Francisco, with the distance to San Francisco calculated via the historic bridge.
Fremont to Pleasanton 
The train leaves the Fremont station and turns east-northeast to head towards Niles Canyon. It crosses under the BART tracks and heads along Alameda Creek, but it does not interconnect with BART. It then turns north to enter Niles Canyon. The narrow canyon contains two rail lines (one is now partially abandoned), Highway 84, Alameda Creek, and the Hetch Hetchy Aqueduct. The other rail line in the canyon was the route of the 1869 Sacramento-to-San Francisco Bay extension of the historic First Transcontinental Railroad and is now used by the Niles Canyon Railway. The train passes through a 0.75-mile (1.21 km) long tunnel which cuts off one of the canyon's horseshoes. This tunnel was modified from its original configuration to accommodate intermodal double-stack freight trains. However, this left the track in poor condition, causing the train to reduce speeds from 45 mph (72 km/h) to 25 mph (40 km/h) in the summer, and down to 10 mph (16 km/h) during the rainy season. The San Joaquin Regional Rail Commission plans to rehabilitate the tunnel as part of their 10-year service improvement plan. Eventually the train emerges into Sunol and heads north alongside I-680. It then passes through the center of Castlewood Country Club before pulling into the station in Pleasanton.
Pleasanton to Livermore 
The train leaves the Pleasanton station and turns east-northeast, paralleling Stanley Boulevard. It travels along Stanley Boulevard between Heron Pond and the old quarries. It enters Livermore as it crosses Isabel Avenue, and turns more northwest as it crosses Murrietta Boulevard. It then stops in downtown Livermore. It then passes under First Street (formerly highway 84) and stops under Vasco Road near the northwest corner of Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory.
Livermore to Tracy 
The train then turns north at the edge of the hills and passes I-580. It then parallels Altamont Pass Road. The path of the original 1869 Sacramento-to-San Francisco Bay extension of the First Transcontinental Railroad can be seen on the right, and then on the left for several miles. The track is not there, but the bed and some markers remain. The train, now following tracks built for the Feather River Route, makes numerous turns as it ascends the Altamont Pass. A large quarry and several wind farms are visible. The route eventually turns south and then passes under westbound 580 and over eastbound 580. The entrances for a pair of short tunnels on the older route under the summit remain just east of the path. The train then descends from the pass in a southeasterly route before crossing under 580 a third time and over the California Aqueduct and the Delta-Mendota Canal before reaching the valley floor. The train then brushes Tracy, following Linne Road at the very southern edge of the city.
Tracy to Lathrop/Manteca 
Lathrop/Manteca to Stockton 
It then proceeds north past Sharpe Army Depot and into the final station in the southeast portion of downtown Stockton. The train frequently reaches top speeds just over 80 mph (129 km/h) on these relatively straight, flat routes.
Tickets and fares 
ACE tickets are available at select stations and on ACE's website. They are available in one way, round trip, 20 trip, weekly, and monthly passes. Fares are distance-based, ranging up to $11.75 for a one-way adult ticket (as of November 2011).
Altamont Corridor Express 
In association with the California High Speed Rail Authority, plans are being generated to upgrade the current system to provide faster, more regular service, renaming the route the Altamont Corridor Express. Components of the project include electrification of the route, and possible extension to the city of Modesto. This line would provide connections at both ends to the planned high speed rail.
- 25 Bombardier BiLevel Coaches (9 Control/Cab cars)
- 6 MPI F40PH-2C locomotives, #3101 to #3106 (3106 is an F40PH-3C)
|Bombardier BiLevel Coach||3201-3216|
|Bombardier BiLevel Cab Car||3301-3309|
See also 
- "ACE Train Schedule". Retrieved 2013-01-09.
- American Public Transportation Association, Commuter Rail Transit Ridership Report, Third Quarter 2008.
- Report, ACE website, access date July 22, 2008
- "Draft ACE Short Range Transportation Plan, Fiscal Year 2006-07 -- 2016". Archived from the original on 30 October 2008. Retrieved 2008-09-25.
- "Commuter Rail Annual Ridership" (pdf). California Department of Transportation. Retrieved 2013-01-09.
- Van Hattem, Matt (June 30, 2006). "Altamont Commuter Express: The commuter rail service linking San Jose and Stockton, Calif.". [[Trains (magazine)|]]. Retrieved 2013-01-09.
- "SJRRC Refreshes ACE Brand with new Logo". Mass Transit. 10 December 2012. Retrieved 2013-01-09.
- California High Speed Rail Authority February 2011 newsletter.
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to: Altamont Commuter Express|
- Altamont Commuter Express
- Trains magazine article on ACE
- Herzog Transit Services
- ACE: Stockton To San Jose (Video Documentary about ACE)
- ConductorMax.com — online train status reports