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ACE train could attract new investment
The Altamont Corridor Express (ACE) train. - photo by Contributed to the Courier

On Oct. 30 I had the opportunity to ride the ACE Train (Altamont Corridor Express) from Lathrop to San Jose with several other business leaders from Stanislaus, Merced and San Joaquin counties. I would like to publicly thank Virginia Madueno who organized the event. We started early in the morning and caught the 7:30 a.m. train. We arrived in San Jose two hours later. One of our party did not make it on the train and had to drive to San Jose instead. He arrived a half an hour later than we did. If that's not a good testimonial for the ACE Train, I don't know what is.

The train was comfortable and allowed for rest, work, and social engagement. It sure beats dealing with traffic. There were all sorts of people on the train. I noticed professionals, industrial workers, white collar, blue collar, older and younger riders alike. There were people on the train from Stanislaus County, San Joaquin County and from Alameda and Contra Costa counties. Being so close to one of the hottest economic regions in the world is a great advantage to communities in the northern part of the Valley. We have access to jobs, but we also have access to visitors from the Bay Area who may come out here.

I have seen the value of transit related development around a train station. In Denver, Colo., there is a light rail transit that extends from downtown Denver to an area known as the Denver Tech Sector in Centennial, Colo. Wherever there is a station along the route, there has been development of urban housing, retail and offices. Having a train station in downtown Modesto and downtown Turlock could attract new investment that caters to folks who would like a more urban lifestyle. It would also provide one more transportation connection to folks who may want to visit the Gallo Center for the Arts or Cal State Stanislaus. I could see the ACE train as not only a vital connection for job seekers but also for visitors who may come to our county for a weekend to visit family, friends and see a show at the Gallo Center.

I have some personal experience with my own family and trains. My second son lives in Provo, Utah, having recently graduated from Brigham Young University. He landed a job with Goldman Sachs in Salt Lake City. He and his wife love living in Provo and didn't want to move. They own one car, and my daughter-in-law needs the car for her job, so my son takes the daily train, the Front Runner, from Provo to Salt Lake. It takes him a little over an hour to get to work, but he can work on the train by utilizing the wi-fi. During the evenings and weekends, he and his wife eat out, buy goods and services, and recreate in Provo. Not a bad scenario for the local economy.