Elk Grove's Multi-Modal Station & ACE Commuter Rails - Light At The End Of The Tunnel?


By D.J. Blutarksy | November 15, 2017 |

The Elk Grove City Council has been exploring multi-modal transit options ever since we became a city in 2000. Their first decision was to abandon the established Sacramento RT district, create their own transit system in 2005, and buy a fleet (many times over!) of those ubiquitous green buses to call their very own. The jury is still out as to whether that was the most cost-effective option for the long-term.

One thing is for sure. The best way to fill the city council chambers is to mention possibly cutting routes or raising the fare of what amounts to a subsidized shuttle bus service to downtown for the government workers. Meanwhile, RT is obligated to serve the remainder of Sacramento County and must work around Elk Grove to serve Galt residents. Efficient use of resources? Not so sure about that.  

Fast forward to 2017. After years of pushing for an Amtrak station and possible high-speed rail stop, another transit option has been building a full head of steam at city hall lately. I am referring to the idea for a new Elk Grove station along the Altamont Corridor Express line, or what is commonly known as the ACE train. That train currently leaves Stockton and makes stops in Lathrop/Manteca, Tracy, Livermore, Pleasanton, Fremont, Santa Clara, and San Jose - the heart of Silicon Valley.

While the Elk Grove economic development gurus try to figure out how to bring Silicon Valley to Elk Grove, it didn't take long for the regional home builders to figure out that it is much more profitable and probably more likely that transporting displaced workers from the high-cost Bay Area to the land of the abundant elk is the best long-term solution (for them). 

When skyrocketing home prices and rents drove workers from Silicon Valley, they fled to cheaper places like Pleasanton and Livermore. I call that the First Wave. Then when those prices skyrocketed and jobs kept pouring into Silicon Valley, a Second Wave occurred--these workers fled across Altamont Pass to faraway places like Tracy, Patterson, Manteca, Lathrop, and even Modesto as the commuter's low-cost haven. Wake up at 4 a.m. and travel across the Altamont Pass--living the dream!

With more job growth projected in Silicon Valley and home prices still appreciating, we now have what I call the Third Wave. Workers who are priced out of the First and Second Wave cities will now be forced to relocate further down the ACE train line to even cheaper homes. Problem is, Stockton is currently the end of the line and no offense to the once "All-American" city, but that is not a very desirable choice at this time. So we essentially have a void of living wage homes further down the line

Enter Lodi and Elk Grove. Lodi is hoping to secure a spot along the ACE train line and that would finish out San Joaquin County. Personally, Lodi has much going for it (top-rate wineries and a thriving downtown) and I can personally envision an economic boom if and when that train stop is built. 

Elk Grove now wants to be the first stop in Sacramento County. Imagine what a marketing boom this would be for the regional builders and Chamber of Commerce--"Priced out of Tracy and Lodi? Come live in the Grove--the land of abundant cheap houses and a casino!". We don't have what Lodi has.

Great opportunities cost money, lots of money! The ACE train was originally funded through federal and state grants, and a 1/2 percent sales tax increase was approved by San Joaquin county voters. This county-wide sales tax is also used for other major infrastructure enhancements. 

We have not heard how the city of Elk Grove plans to fund this station and access to the train service. Just like our E-tran bus system, I hope we don't plan to go it alone and push for our very own sales tax increase. Essentially, we'd have the builders gaining a marketing foothold on a new home market on our dime--just like the Connector. Unless you're a Bay Area commuter, I'm not sure whether this pencils out for the rest of us?

The city is holding an open house on the train station. It's worth a peek I think! Maybe they can talk numbers for us also.

Thursday, November 16, 2017


Franklin High School Cafeteria
6400 Whitelock Parkway, Elk Grove, CA  95757
Open House:  7:00 - 8:30 p.m.
Presentation:  7:05 - 7:25 p.m.




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