The Pacific Surfliner is a Pain

Letters to the Editor: Amtrak’s Pacific Surfliner is a relic. Rebuild and electrify it.

When Amtrak trains arrive at the Pacific Surfliner station, several dozen cars in the station are empty. Each of those cars has enough seats to provide a full boarding level with luggage to take home for the weekend. Those empty seats — some of them empty for years — are a pain.

The seats are like the seat of a throne. It’s hard to see what is missing when the car is full, and it’s hard to see what isn’t when you’re seated on the couch, with the lights dimmed.

The empty seats are like the foot soldiers of the Amtrak war against travelers who buy a one-way ticket and board the train to San Jose.

It’s as if the people of Southern California — who make up half of Amtrak’s passenger market — aren’t interested in taking Amtrak trains.

The Pacific Surfliner, when it opens to passengers, will be the second Amtrak station in Southern California. The other one, which is owned by the Orange County Transportation entity, is at San Clemente, but it closes in June.

The Pacific Surfliner, built in 1939, is the third oldest Amtrak station opened in the United States, and the second oldest on the West Coast. Amtrak’s current schedule runs to Oakland.

It is also one of the lowest cost stations, at $1 per mile, which is about half the cost of San Jose’s Embarcadero station and 20 percent less than Santa Clara’s Union Station.

And as much as I object to this station and the price of the ticket, which I pay with the income tax, I do not object to its being a viable place to travel in Southern California.

It is a beautiful city, and I love the beaches. Santa Barbara is a great place for beach lovers. I would like to see trains

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