Altamont Corridor Express

Last updated

Altamont Corridor Express
Altamont Corridor Express logo.svg
ACE Altamont Pass.jpg
ACE train traversing Altamont Pass Road while climbing Altamont Pass
Overview
OwnerSan Joaquin Regional Rail Commission
Area served San Joaquin Valley, Tri-Valley, and Silicon Valley
Transit type Commuter rail
Number of lines1
Number of stations10
Daily ridership5,900 (weekdays) [1]
Annual ridership1.3 million (2017) [2]
Headquarters Robert J. Cabral Station
Website http://www.acerail.com
Operation
Began operationOctober 19, 1998;23 years ago (October 19, 1998) [3]
Operator(s)Herzog Transit Services
Reporting marks ACEX
Infrastructure manager(s) Union Pacific (Stockton–Santa Clara)
Caltrain (Santa Clara–San Jose)
Charactershared freight railroad
Number of vehicles10 locomotives
30 passenger cars
Train length1-2 locomotives
4-8 passenger cars
Technical
System length85 mi (137 km)
Track gauge 4 ft 8+12 in (1,435 mm) standard gauge
Average speed39 mph (63 km/h)
Top speed79 mph (127 km/h)
System map

Contents

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Valley Rail
(2023)
Valley Rail
(2023)
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Natomas/Sacramento Airport
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Old North Sacramento
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Midtown Sacramento
( Sacramento Regional Transit.svg )
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City College
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Lodi
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ACE service facility
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Stockton
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Altamont Corridor
Vision (2023/2027)
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Altamont Corridor
Vision
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North Lathrop
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Manteca Transit Center
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Ripon
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Modesto
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Ceres
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layover facility
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bus bridge
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Phase 1 (2023)
Phase 2 (2027)
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Turlock
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Livingston
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Atwater
(option)
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Layover and
maintenance facility
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Merced CAHSR
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Lathrop/Manteca
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Tracy
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Greenville Road
(planned Aiga railtransportation 25.svg )
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Vasco Road
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Livermore
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Pleasanton
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Arrow Blue Left 001.svg Amtrak to Oakland & Seattle
Arrow Blue Left 001.svg BART Arrow Blue Right 001.svg
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Fremont
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Amtrak (planned)
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Coyote
Creek
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Santa Clara – Great America
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Santa Clara
Caltrain roundel.svg BSicon LOGO Amtrak2.svg BSicon FLUG.svg
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San Jose
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Caltrain to Tamien
Amtrak Coast Starlight to Los Angeles

The Altamont Corridor Express (also known as ACE, formerly Altamont Commuter Express) is a commuter rail service in California, connecting Stockton and San Jose during peak hours only. ACE is named for the Altamont Pass, through which it runs. [4] Service is managed by the San Joaquin Regional Rail Commission, and operations are contracted to Herzog Transit Services, using AAR assigned reporting mark ACEX. [4] [5] The 86-mile (138 km) route includes ten stops, with travel time about 2 hours and 12 minutes end-to-end. The tracks are owned by Union Pacific Railroad, previously built along the Western Pacific Railroad main line. ACE uses Bombardier BiLevel Coaches, MPI F40PH-3C locomotives, and Siemens Charger locomotives.

Service began on October 19, 1998, with two weekday round trips. A third round trip was added in May 2001, followed by a fourth round trip in October 2012. Saturday service commenced in September 2019. As of 2018, average weekday ridership is 5,900. [1] Under the ACEforward program, a number of improvements to the service are being considered. These include a rerouted line through Tracy, an extension to Modesto and Merced, and connections to BART at Union City and Tri-Valley.

History and funding

Planning

By the 1980s, three rapidly growing areas in California – Silicon Valley, the Tri-Valley, and the middle part of the Central Valley – were poorly connected by public transit, even as Interstate 580 and Interstate 680 became more congested. The three areas had connections to San Francisco and Oakland via Caltrain and the Amtrak San Joaquin (and later BART and Capitol Corridor trains), but commuting from the Central Valley and Tri-Valley to Silicon Valley required using a car or limited bus service. In 1989, the San Joaquin Council of Governments, Stockton Chamber of Commerce, and the Building Industry Association of the Delta started work on a 20-year transportation plan for their section of the Central Valley. In November 1990, San Joaquin County voters passed Measure K, a half-cent sales tax to fund a variety of transportation improvements. [6] [7] The highest-priority project was the establishment of passenger rail service to San Jose. [3]

ACE Train #4, the 3:35 eastbound, at San Jose Diridon station with F40PH-3C #3106 Altamont Commuter Rail MPI F40PH-3C 3106 with ACE Train 4 at San Jose Diridon Station, July 16th, 2012.jpg
ACE Train #4, the 3:35 eastbound, at San Jose Diridon station with F40PH-3C #3106

In 1995, San Joaquin County and seven cities along the route formed the San Joaquin Regional Rail Commission (SJRRC) to oversee the creation of the service. [3] In May 1997, the Altamont Commuter Express Joint Powers Authority (ACE JPA) was formed by the SJRRC, Santa Clara Valley Transportation Authority (VTA), and Alameda Congestion Management Agency (ACMA). That agreement formalized financial support, administrative processes, and governance for the rail service. [3] The operation is funded by a variety of state and federal sources, largely sales tax revenue collected by the three JPA signatories; farebox revenues account for about one-third of costs. [8]

Cost sharing for capital projects, excluding stations, during the initial 36 months of service was determined by the JPA 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 Measure K funds. 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; it also uses about 4 miles (6.4 km) of Caltrain track in San Jose. [9] Service began on October 19, 1998, with two daily round trips running to San Jose in the morning and Stockton in the evening. [6]

Service expansion

ACE service to Santa Clara station began in 2001, was suspended in 2005, and returned in 2012. Santa Clara station 0937 11.JPG
ACE service to Santa Clara station began in 2001, was suspended in 2005, and returned in 2012.

The original service used two trainsets, each with four bilevel coach cars, for a total seated capacity of 1,120 passengers in each direction daily. In September 1999, the service reached 1,000 daily riders per direction, resulting in many trains running at capacity. [10] On February 21, 2000, a morning short turn between San Jose and Pleasanton was added using an existing trainset, giving Pleasanton and Fremont a third inbound train to alleviate the crowding on the two earlier trains. [11] The trip was added after ACE funded $3 million in track improvements to reduce conflicts with Union Pacific freight trains and Amtrak Capitol Corridor trains. [12] By early 2001, ACE regularly carried more than 700 daily standees. [13] After additional equipment was bought, the "Turn-back Train" was replaced by a nearly-full-length trip originating at Lathrop-Manteca on March 5, 2001; trains also began stopping at Santa Clara station. [14] Although the third train added 560 seats in each direction, it brought an immediate increase of 380 daily riders. ACE then planned to add a fourth round trip later in the year, with fifth and sixth round trips by 2006. [13] However, by late 2001, the deepening dot-com recession was severely hurting ridership, and expansion plans were put on hold. On June 30, 2003, the ACE JPA was dissolved in favor of a Cooperative Services Agreement between the three member agencies. [3]

On January 6, 2003, ACE introduced the Stockton Solution Shuttle, allowing Stockton passengers to use the ACE trip which terminated at Lathrop/Manteca. [10] The trip was extended to Stockton on August 1, 2005. At that time, service to Santa Clara was suspended to allow for the construction of a second platform and pedestrian tunnel at the station. [15] At this time, three Amtrak Thruway Motorcoach trips connecting to the San Joaquin – one to San Jose and two to Stockton – were open to ACE riders. [10]

On August 28, 2006, ACE added a fourth round trip, which operated midday using one of the existing trainsets. [3] On November 7, 2006, San Joaquin County voters approved a 20-year extension of Measure K. [7] Suffering from reducing funding due to the Great Recession, ACE cut the lightly used midday trip on November 2, 2009. [10]

Altamont Corridor Express

Former ACE logo, used until 2013 Altamont Commuter Express (logo).png
Former ACE logo, used until 2013

In May 2012, ACE restored service to Santa Clara station. [6] On October 1, 2012, a fourth rush-hour round trip was added, running approximately one hour after existing trips. [10] In December 2012, the service was rebranded from Altamont Commuter Express to Altamont Corridor Express to reflect plans for a broader scope of service. [16]

In March 2014, ACE opened a $65 million, 121,000-square-foot (11,200 m2) maintenance facility in Stockton. [17] On July 1, 2015, management and governance of the San Joaquin passed from Caltrans to the new San Joaquin Joint Powers Authority. [18] The SJJPA has nominal control over the SJRRC, but delegates all responsibility over ACE to the SJRRC.

On March 7, 2016, an ACE train was derailed by a mudslide in Niles Canyon near Sunol. The front car plunged into the rain-swollen Alameda Creek. Fourteen passengers were injured, but there were no fatalities. [19] [20]

ACE received Road Repair and Accountability Act funds in order to initiate Saturday service in January 2018, [21] with two Saturday round trips added in September 2019.

Future plans

In association with the California High-Speed Rail (CAHSR) project, the ACE system had been planned to be dramatically upgraded and expanded. Beginning around 2008, initial plans called for the Altamont Corridor Rail Project to produce a high speed rail "Super ACE" capable of halving the travel time between the endpoints. [25]

As the CAHSR project was scaled back and rerouted to Pacheco Pass several years later, these plans were replaced with the more modest ACEforward program. The San Joaquin Regional Rail Commission issued a notice of intent to proceed with an Environmental Impact Statement in June 2013; [26] this was released in 2017 and prioritized goals as either long term or short term. [2] Short term goals included track improvements, a possible reroute through downtown Tracy including new stations, a West Tracy station, and a new extension to Modesto in addition to additional daily round trips. Long term goals included upgrades to the existing corridor to allow as many as 10 daily round trips, extension to Merced and electrification of the line from Stockton to San Jose. [2]

Also under studied were possible connections with BART at Union City or the Tri-Valley [27] [28] via traditional ACE rail, diesel multiple units, or bus bridges. [29] This connection is planned to be facilitated by the Tri-Valley-San Joaquin Valley Regional Rail Authority. [30]

Altamont Corridor Vision

The state senate allocated $400 million in revenue from a gas tax increase to ACEforward expansion. [2] ACE was awarded $500.5 million in April 2018 for expanded service to Ceres and Sacramento [31] to provide more rail service and connections within the Central Valley. [32] [33] Service is expected to begin from Ceres by 2023 [34] with interim bus bridge service to Merced until that segment of Union Pacific right-of-way is upgraded. Four trains will depart Ceres in the mornings, and one train may make the complete run to San Jose with others transferring passengers at North Lathrop. [35]

By 2019, the plan had come to be called the Altamont Corridor Vision, with an expected price of $9.7 billion, allowing ACE to run up to six weekday round trips in 2023 with the goal of ten weekday round trips once additional track infrastructure is completed. ACE and the Tri-Valley-San Joaquin Valley Regional Rail Authority sought funding to construct a shared tunnel under Altamont pass in order to speed service and increase reliability. [36] The Union Pacific right of way between Ceres and Lathrop will be double tracked to facilitate passenger service. [34] As of 2019 platforms are being extended to accommodate longer trains. [37]

Valley Rail

Valley Rail is the project to route ACE and Amtrak San Joaquins along the little-used Sacramento Subdivision between Stockton and Sacramento. Six new stations would be constructed along the line with a layover facility at Natomas. Trains would run the length of the line from Natomas to San Jose or Ceres with a midday short turn to Stockton. A Draft Environmental Impact Statement was released in 2020, with services expected begin no later than 2023. [38] The North Elk Grove station was eliminated from planning in September 2020. [39]

Service

As of July 2019, ACE operates four round trips per weekday in the peak rush hour directions – westbound (to San Jose) in the morning and eastbound (to Stockton) in the evening. Trains are scheduled to make the 85-mile (137 km) one-way trip in 2 hours 12 minutes, an average speed of 39 miles per hour (63 km/h). [40]

ACE did not operate on weekends or major holidays until September 7, 2019, when two Saturday round trips were added. [41]

Route

Altamont Corridor Express train crossing the San Francisco Bay National Wildlife Refuge between Fremont and San Jose ACE EMD F40PH Fremont - San Jose.jpg
Altamont Corridor Express train crossing the San Francisco Bay National Wildlife Refuge between Fremont and San Jose

From San Jose to just north of Santa Clara, ACE uses the Caltrain main line (Peninsula Subdivision), shared with Caltrain and Amtrak service. From Santa Clara to Stockton - the majority of the route - ACE runs on Union Pacific Railroad freight lines. From Santa Clara to Newark, ACE uses the Coast Subdivision, then the Niles Subdivision to Niles. From Niles to Lathrop, the line uses the Oakland Subdivision. [42] [43] From Lathrop to Stockton, the line uses the Fresno Subdivision.

The route runs through Niles Canyon, parallel to the Niles Canyon Railway, Highway 84, and the Hetch Hetchy Aqueduct. The line 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, reducing speeds from 45 mph (72 km/h) to 25 mph (40 km/h) in the summer and as low as 10 mph (16 km/h) during the rainy season. The San Joaquin Regional Rail Commission plans to rehabilitate the tunnel. [44]

East of Pleasanton and Livermore, the line runs through the Altamont Pass on the original Feather River Route. After crossing the California Aqueduct and the Delta-Mendota Canal into the Central Valley, skirting the southern edge of Tracy. It then turns north between Lathrop and Manteca and runs to Robert J. Cabral Station in Stockton.

Tickets and fares

ACE tickets are available at select stations and on ACE's web site. Distance-based fares are available in one way, round trip, 20 trip, and monthly passes.

Rolling stock

A typical ACE train with F40PH-3C #3106 leading ACE -7 at Wyche (Manteca).jpg
A typical ACE train with F40PH-3C #3106 leading

ACE operates push-pull trains with one to two diesel locomotives and four to eight bilevel coach cars. [9] Trains typically operate with the locomotive(s) leading westbound and the cab car leading eastbound.

ACE has ordered 5 new Bombardier BiLevel Series IX Cab Cars along with 12 Coach Cars. Deliveries are expected to begin sometime in 2021. The entire fleet of Bombardier bilevel coach cars and MPI F40PH-3C locomotives will be rebuilt, overhauled, and repainted to have a matching paint scheme, except for two that were retired in May 2020. They will then continue to operate along with the newer Siemens Charger SC-44 locomotives.

ModelQuantityNumberNotes
MPI F40PH-3C 43102-31053101 and 3106 were retired from service in May 2020. The remaining locomotives are to undergo overhaul.
Siemens Charger 43110-3113Entered revenue service 2020. [45]
Bombardier BiLevel VI coach223201-32223222 is 3309 rebuilt into coach car after wreck.
Bombardier BiLevel VI cab car 83301-33083309 wrecked in Sunol mudslide derailment on March 7, 2016.
Bombardier BiLevel IX coach12TBDDeliveries starting late 2021.
Bombardier BiLevel IX cab car5TBDDeliveries starting late 2021.

See also

Related Research Articles

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San Jose Diridon station Railway and transit hub in San Jose, California

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Area code 209 Area code of north Central Valley, California

Area code 209 is a telephone area code in the North American Numbering Plan (NANP) for the U.S. state of California. Its service area includes Stockton, Modesto, Turlock, Merced, Winton, Atwater, Livingston, Manteca, Ripon, Tracy, Lodi, Galt, Sonora, Los Banos, San Andreas, Mariposa, and Yosemite, the northern San Joaquin Valley, and the Sierra Foothills.

Sacramento Valley Station

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Livermore station

Livermore is a train station in downtown Livermore, California.

Vasco Road station

Vasco Road is an ACE station on Vasco Road in eastern Livermore, California.

Tracy station

Tracy is a train station in southern Tracy, California on the edge of the San Francisco Bay Area.

Lathrop/Manteca station

Lathrop/Manteca is a train station in southern Lathrop, California on the edge of the San Francisco Bay Area.

Robert J. Cabral Station Passenger rail stop in downtown Stockton, CA

Robert J. Cabral Station, otherwise known as the Stockton – Downtown Station or Stockton ACE Station, is a railway station in Stockton, California. In 2003, the station building was named in honor of the late Robert J. Cabral, a San Joaquin County supervisor instrumental in the creation of the Altamont Corridor Express (ACE), originally Altamont Commuter Express.

Merced station (California High-Speed Rail)

Merced station is a proposed California High-Speed Rail station in Merced, California, located in Downtown Merced on Martin Luther King Jr. Way near the interchange with Route 99/59, and is about 7 blocks south from the existing Merced Amtrak station. The station was initially intended to be the northern terminus of the system's Initial Construction Segment. The high-speed rail line runs along the right-of-way of the Union Pacific Railroad at this location.

Tri-Valley-San Joaquin Valley Regional Rail Authority Transportation authority in northern California

The Tri-Valley-San Joaquin Valley Regional Rail Authority is a special-purpose district body formed for the sole purpose of providing a public transit connection, known as Valley Link, between broad-gauge Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART) and standard-gauge Altamont Corridor Express (ACE) services, in Northern California.

Ceres station is a future Altamont Corridor Express rail station in the city of the same name. It is expected to open to revenue service in 2023 as the terminus of the first phase of ACE's expansion to Merced. The station is located between Railroad Avenue and U.S. Route 101 near the southbound Whitmore Avenue exit underpass; the platform is only accessible approaching from the east side of the tracks. A bus will connect to Merced at first, with rail service to follow in the future. Parking will be available on nearby surface streets.

The Manteca Transit Center is the primary public transit hub of Manteca, California. The bus station features five bus bays with Manteca Transit as the primary operator; the agency also maintain their offices at the facility. San Joaquin Regional Transit District and Altamont Corridor Express shuttle routes also serve the transit center. Modesto Area Express additionally plans to run a route from Modesto to the facility starting July 2020. Altamont Corridor Express commuter rail service is expected to commence at a newly constructed platform along the Union Pacific rail line by 2023.

Ripon is a future Altamont Corridor Express station in the city of the same name. The platform will be located between the railway right of way and U.S. Highway 99, south of the Main Street interchange. Access to the platform will be via a pedestrian overcrossing southwest over the tracks to South Industrial Avenue. It is expected to open to revenue service in 2023 as a station along the first phase of ACE's expansion to Merced.

North Lathrop is a future Altamont Corridor Express station in Lathrop, California – the second to be constructed in the city. It is expected to open to revenue service in 2023 as part of the first phase of ACE's expansion to Merced.

Greenville Road station is a planned railway station in Livermore, California. It is intended to serve as a transfer point between the planned Valley Link system and the Altamont Corridor Express.

North Elk Grove station

North Elk Grove was a proposed train station that would be a stop on Altamont Corridor Express and Amtrak California's San Joaquin services. The station site is northeast of Elk Grove on a piece of land owned by the Sacramento Regional County Sanitation District. The Sacramento RT Light Rail Franklin station is located 23 mi (1.1 km) to the east also on Consumnes River Boulevard.

Turlock station is a future Altamont Corridor Express station in the city of the same name. It is expected to open to revenue service as early as 2025 as part of the second phase of ACE's expansion to Merced. The station is located at the intersection of Golden State Boulevard and Front Street. The platform is planned to be connected to the Turlock Transit Roger K. Fall Transit Center via an elevated pedestrian bridge. The station is also adjacent to the city's Greyhound Lines bus stop.

References

  1. 1 2 "Transit Ridership Report: Second Quarter 2018" (PDF). American Public Transportation Association. August 24, 2018. Archived from the original (PDF) on October 4, 2018. Retrieved December 6, 2018.
  2. 1 2 3 4 "ACE expansion report released". Tracy Press. May 31, 2017. Retrieved June 2, 2017.
  3. 1 2 3 4 5 6 "History of ACE". San Joaquin Joint Powers Authority.
  4. 1 2 Solomon, Brian (2013). North American Railroad Family Trees : An Infographic History of the Industry's Mergers and Evolution. Minneapolis, MN: Voyageur Press. p. 127. ISBN   978-0760344880.
  5. "AAR Railroad Reporting Marks (2015)". Railserve. Retrieved June 28, 2016.
  6. 1 2 3 "Altamont Corridor Express (ACE)". BayRail Alliance.
  7. 1 2 "Measure K". San Joaquin Council of Governments. Archived from the original on September 2, 2016. Retrieved August 29, 2016.
  8. "2014-2015 WORK PROGRAM & BUDGET" (PDF). San Joaquin Regional Rail Commission. June 6, 2014. p. 6.
  9. 1 2 Van Hattem, Matt (June 30, 2006). "Altamont Commuter Express: The commuter rail service linking San Jose and Stockton, Calif". Trains Magazine. Retrieved August 23, 2006.
  10. 1 2 3 4 5 Cox, Jeremiah (July 10, 2013). "Altamont Commuter Express on the SubwayNut". Subway Nut.
  11. "History". San Joaquin Regional Rail Commission. Archived from the original on May 11, 2000.
  12. Cabanatuan, Michael (November 16, 1999). "ACE to Add Third Morning Train / Pleasanton-to-San Jose service will begin by Feb. 15". San Francisco Chronicle. Retrieved August 29, 2016.
  13. 1 2 White, Mike (March 12, 2001). "4th Ace train to bolster the fleet". Press Herald. Archived from the original on November 8, 2001 via San Joaquin Regional Rail Commission.
  14. Bott, Fran (March 1, 2001). "Third ACE train ready to roll". The Record. Archived from the original on November 8, 2001 via San Joaquin Regional Rail Commission.
  15. "Schedule Changes will be effective August 1, 2005" (PDF). San Joaquin Regional Rail Commission. August 1, 2005. Archived from the original (PDF) on November 26, 2005.
  16. "SJRRC Refreshes ACE Brand with new Logo" (Press release). San Joaquin Regional Rail Commission. December 10, 2012 via Mass Transit Magazine.
  17. Rembulat, Vince (March 23, 2014). "ACE opens $65M state-of-art facility". Merced Bulletin. Archived from the original on September 16, 2016. Retrieved August 29, 2016.
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