Early Morning San Joaquin to be Discontinued

Amtrak is citing low ridership for suspending the informally named Sacramento Morning Express, which has been scheduled to enable San Joaquin Valley residents to travel to Sacramento at the start of the business day.

The service began a year ago, leaving Fresno at 4:25 a.m. and arriving in Sacramento at 7:46 a.m. It made intermediate stops in Madera, Merced, Denair, Modesto and Stockton.

State transportation policy makers had hoped that the service would expand ridership beyond leisure travelers.

Amtrak plans to continue operating two daily round San Joaquin roundtrips between Bakersfield and Sacramento, and five between Bakersfield and Oakland.

Officials said the Sacramento Morning Express could return after track and other infrastructure improvements are made over the new few years.

The train averaged 50 passengers a day compared with 130 per day on other trains that operated later in the day.

“It’s revenue driven, and it wasn’t carrying its weight,” said Stanislaus County Supervisor Vito Chiesa. “It may take a few years, but I’m pretty confident that it’s still necessary.”

The early morning train launched on May 7, 2018.

Amtrak’s San Joaquin service overall continues to do well, carrying 1,078,707 passengers from October 2017 through September 2018, the most recent fiscal year.

Transportation planners said business travelers to Sacramento may someday benefit from an expansion of the Altamont Corridor Express, which currently operates four roundtrips on weekdays between Stockton and San Jose via Livermore.

By 2021, ACE may have stations in Manteca, Ripon, Modesto and Ceres with longer range plans to expand to Turlock and Merced County along with a northward branch to Sacramento.

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