September 15, 2007
Friday morning representatives from the City of Santa Barbara, Santa Barbara County, and Santa Barbara County Association of Governments proposed On-TRAC: “A Plan of Transit/Rail Action for Commuters” to the Ventura County Transportation Commission (VCTC) receiving overwhelming support for the plan. The VCTC Executive Director, Ginger Gherardi had invited the Santa Barbara delegation to present On-TRAC after hearing about it at a Santa Barbara City Council meeting.
“If there ever was a time for a unified government on transportation solutions, the time is now,” said Councilmember Roger Horton of the City. City Councilmembers Horton and Grant House presented the On-TRAC plan that proposes implementing early start commuter service between Ventura and Santa Barbara by adjusting the times of existing Amtrak trains to reflect commute times. On-TRAC also calls for improvements to the existing 1920’s style rail line with more double track and electronic switching to improve passenger train and freight service through the corridor. The On-TRAC plan received unanimous approval from the City Council of Santa Barbara just three weeks ago.
“This is a cost effective way of moving commuter rail forward sooner,” said Jim Kemp, the Executive Director of the Santa Barbara County Association of Governments. He also recognized VCTC for partnering with Santa Barbara on key elements of future widening on Highway 101. Jeremy Tittle, representing 1st District Supervisor Salud Carbajal said that “we are committed to a long-term commuter rail solution, but see On-TRAC as the first step.
The VCTC members overwhelmingly supported its staff recommendation to endorse Santa Barbara’s plan. Many of the commissioners spoke in favor of On-TRAC and the need for commuter rail expansion to Santa Barbara County. Commissioner Keith Millhouse (Mayor Protem, City of Moorpark) said that On-TRAC is a beginning to eventually getting a higher quality commuter rail service, such as Metro Link, to Santa Barbara and San Luis Obispo Counties. Ventura County Supervisor Steve Bennett thanked the Santa Barbara team for coming down and welcomed future partnerships. Assembly member Pedro Nava, who also spoke in favor of On-TRAC, offered his office as a resource to promote commuter rail efforts.