ACE answers some of your frequently asked questions

ACE wants our passengers and public to know that we hear all your questions and concerns.  This webpage is built to answer those reoccurring questions that we received from passengers in person and online.  We encourage ridership and public to continue in asking questions through our AskACE webpage.

Q - What is PTC?

A – Positive Train Control is a system of functional requirements for monitoring and controlling train movements as an attempt to provide increased safety.

Q – I haven’t received a raise at work.  Why is ACE raising fares?

A – The ACE service depends on external contracts for many services including operations, maintenance, ticketing vendors, transit partners, shuttle services, trackage rights, insurance, and fuel.  Each of these contracts has some method of annual escalation.  The method can be a fixed percentage or benchmarked against a Consumer Price Index (CPI), or some other mutually agreed factor.  As these contracts increase, ACE makes every effort to constrain and minimize the overall cost of providing the service while aggressively pursuing shrinking state and federal revenues.

ACE is sensitive to the lack of salary growth since the recession but is also being responsive to those passengers that requested smaller increases more often than a larger increase every four or five years. 

Q – Why aren’t buses always available to bridge service in the event of a delay or disruption?

A – Depending on the cause of the delay, a bus bridge may be considered.  Due to the considerable amount of time that it takes to schedule and mobilize a fleet of buses with enough capacity to accommodate all of our passengers, a bus bridge is only ordered when the projected delay is 5 hrs. or longer.   Since each of the ACE trains carries approximately 700 passengers, it would take a minimum of 38 buses, with drivers, to transport all of the ACE passengers throughout the corridor.  Unfortunately, in most cases, a bus bridge will actually result in longer delays for passengers.

Q – Why are the validators so unreliable, and can’t they be fixed?

A – The validators were acquired from MetroLink in Los Angeles when ACE was first started service.  Since that time, the manufacturer has gone out of business and spare parts are nearly non-existent.  Often, our Maintenance personnel fashion replacement parts by hand.  This is why ACE has prioritized the replacement of the ticketing system for FY15/16.

Q - Will ACE ever use Clipper?

A - ACE pursued implementing the Bay Area’s Clipper program several years ago.  At that time, the Metropolitan Transportation Commission (MTC) had funding available for Clipper implementation.  However, when ACE requested funding for Clipper, MTC replied that while ACE is eligible to participate in Clipper, funding would not be available until the second generation of Clipper is ready for deployment which would likely be at some point after 2020.  ACE then began to assemble funding for a new system independent of Clipper that will better meet the needs voiced by passengers from the eTicketing Working Group.  Development of the new system is currently underway.

Q – What’s going on with the recent delays?

A - The greatest reason for delays are typically beyond the control of ACE.  They are as follows:
1. Signal Outages
2. Train Congestion
3. Corridor Incidents Even with these occasional delays, ACE maintains an on-time performance standard at nearly 90%.  

Q – Why aren’t the restrooms serviced between the morning and evening trains?

A – Between the morning and evening schedule, the trains are parked in a holding yard that is not equipped to service bathrooms. The trains travel only 2 hours and 10 minutes in each direction and the bathrooms are serviced every evening. If a serious issue is found, please report it promptly to the conductor or fill out a service card found aboard each car on the train and hand it to a PSA or conductor.

Q – Can ACE install restrooms at the stations?

A - At this time, ACE cannot provide restrooms at each station. There is a significant cost to install and maintain restrooms.  ACE has supplied portable restrooms in the past, but there are often issues with ADA compliance due to the placement and access.

Q – Which Consumer Price Index (CPI) does ACE use for fare increases?

A - The board-adopted ACE Fare Program utilizes the annual (December to December) CPI for Urban Wage Earner and Clerical Workers, San Francisco-Oakland-San Jose Area as a basis for fare increases, adjusted by any significant regional or industry factors.

Q – If California’s high-speed rail system doesn’t materialize, can ACE use the money devoted to that program?

A – ACE was allocated approximately $14 million dollars from Proposition 1A’s Connectivity fund.  Any further allocation of Proposition 1A bond funds to ACE would likely require voter approval.

Q – Why not use funds for the Saturday Service to improve the existing service?

A – ACE was awarded a grant through Senate Bill 1 to launch a pilot program for ACE Weekend Service.  However, due to Federal requirements to initiate Positive Train Control, the ACE Weekend Service cannot be launched until Positive Train Control testing and implementation is complete.

Q – Are there any plans to expand parking at the Pleasanton ACE station?

A – ACE doesn't charge for parking at any station locations and recognizes the increased demand from Tri-Valley passengers for additional parking.  There are discussions occurring with Alameda County Fairgrounds to determine the best solutions to accommodate growth.

Q – How is ACE funded?

A – ACE is funded by over twenty-six different federal, state, and local programs in addition to fares.  Fares are used only for operational expenses and cover nearly 40% of those costs.  Detailed information on the funding programs that make ACE possible can be found in our annual budget and work program.