In 1989, passenger rail service across the Altamont was considered only a pipe dream that might be worth discussing in twenty years. However, that same year, the San Joaquin Council of Governments, the Stockton Chamber of Commerce and the Building Industry Association of the Delta began the development of a 20-year transportation plan for a future sales tax vote in San Joaquin County. Measure K, the half-cent sales tax for transportation was strongly supported by voters in 1990, and the number one project identified for funding was Altamont passenger rail service. In 1995, the seven cities and the county of San Joaquin formed a joint powers agreement that created the San Joaquin Regional Rail Commission to implement the rail plan, and to explore agreements with the counties of Santa Clara and Alameda. This created a five-member board of directors appointed by the San Joaquin Council of Governments. To date, through Measure K, the taxpayers of San Joaquin County have contributed over $50 million in funding for this nationally acclaimed commuter rail service. In May 1997, the San Joaquin Regional Rail Commission (SJRRC), the Alameda Congestion Management Agency (ACCMA), and the Santa Clara Valley Transportation Authority (VTA) executed an agreement to create the Altamont Commuter Express (ACE) Joint Powers Authority (JPA). The Agreement stipulated the JPA membership and powers, specifies financial commitments of each member agency, and details other administrative procedures. Three members represent each member agency on the JPA Board of Directors.
On June 30, 2003 the ACE JPA was dissolved and a Cooperative Services Agreement was entered into between SJRRC, ACCMA and VTA. The Cooperative Services Agreement identified SJRRC as the owner/operator of the ACE Service and identified how the operations and capital projects for the ACE service would be funded by the three parties. At that time the SJRRC Board was reconfigured to and eight member board consisting of six elected officials from San Joaquin County and two elected officials from Alameda County who are voting members on issues relating to the ACE Service.
The Cooperative Services stipulates the SJRRC as the owner/operator for the ACE service, overseeing the day-to-day management, planning and support services necessary to operate the trains. SJRRC issued a contract for operations and maintenance of equipment to Herzog Transit Services, Inc. Service became operational on October 19, 1998. Service was initially two westbound morning trains and two eastbound evening trains.
On March 5th, 2001, a third roundtrip for ACE passengers was launched to provide a third commute trip in the mornings and evenings. A fourth ACE train was initiated on August 28, 2006 in coordination with Caltrans Division of Rail and Caltrans District 10 to provide midday service between Stockton and San Jose as part of the Caltrans/Amtrak San Joaquin intercity service and as a mitigation measure for the construction of Interstate 205 in the Tracy area.
For information on where ACE is headed in the future, please visit our ACEforward page