To protect the existing San Joaquin Rail Service and to promote its improvement, in 2012, local and regional agencies throughout most of the San Joaquin Corridor (Bakersfield-Fresno-Modesto-Stockton-Sacramento-Oakland) sponsored and supported Assembly Bill 1779 (AB 1779). This bill enabled regional government agencies to form the San Joaquin Joint Powers Authority (SJJPA) to take over the administration and management of the existing San Joaquin Rail Service from the state. AB 1779 was passed by the Legislature on August 30, 2012 with bi-partisan support, and was signed by Governor Brown on September 29, 2012. The first SJJPA Board meeting was held on March 22, 2013 in Merced.
AB 1779 defines the composition of the SJJPA, and extends the time for executing an interagency transfer agreement with the Department of Transportation to June 30, 2015. The governance/management of the San Joaquin Rail Service was transferred to the SJJPA on July 1, 2015, and AB 1779 requires that the transfer must result in administrative or operating cost reductions. AB 1779 requires the SJJPA to protect the existing San Joaquin Rail Service and facilities and seek to expand service as warranted by ridership and available revenue. Increases in the San Joaquin Rail Service and ridership will result in more jobs, improved air quality, and will help promote sustainable development in the San Joaquin Corridor. Under the provisions of AB 1779, the state will continue to provide the funding necessary for service operations, administration and marketing. Furthermore, Caltrans Division of Rail will remain responsible for the development of the Statewide Rail Plan and the coordination and integration between the three state-supported intercity passenger rail services. AB 1779 was sponsored by the San Joaquin Regional Rail Commission (SJRRC), Sacramento Regional Transit, the Central Valley Rail Working Group, and the San Joaquin Valley Regional Policy Council.
In addition to more cost effective administration and operations, there will be many benefits to regional governance of San Joaquin Rail Service. Train riders and San Joaquin Valley residents now have a stronger voice in deciding what happens with the service since local decision-making is more responsive and adaptive to passenger issues. The SJJPA, which is made up of elected officials throughout the San Joaquin Corridor, will be a strong voice in advocating for service improvements and expansions – particularly in Washington D.C. and in Sacramento. The SJJPA will take advantage of joint marketing and partnerships with local agencies throughout the San Joaquin Valley. Since the SJJPA’s board members are part of the communities in the San Joaquin Corridor, it will also be better able to engage local communities throughout the corridor to use and support the San Joaquin Rail Service.
The ten Member Agencies that make up the SJJPA are: Alameda County, Contra Costa Transportation Authority, Fresno Council of Governments, Kings County Association of Governments, Madera County Transportation Commission, Merced County Association of Governments, Sacramento Regional Transit, San Joaquin Regional Rail Commission, Stanislaus Council of Governments and Tulare County Association of Governments. The SJRRC was selected by the SJJPA Board to be the Managing Agency at the July 26, 2013 SJJPA Board Meeting in Fresno. As Managing Agency of the SJJPA, the SJRRC provides all necessary administrative support for the SJJPA. The SJJPA along with its supporters and sponsors are working with other partner agencies to advocate for conventional intercity rail service improvements throughout California.