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The news site of Santa Barbara City College.

The Channels

The news site of Santa Barbara City College.

The Channels

Amtrak Pacific Surfliner provides college students solution to traffic

Sylvia Stewart
Amtrak’s Pacific Surfliner travels up and down California’s central and south coast, providing accessible transportation. From coach to private rooms, the train has many different spaces for any kind of price range.

The Amtrak Surfliner has been running for over twenty years; traveling from San Diego up to San Luis Obispo. 

The Pacific Surfliner has the ability to travel all the way from downtown San Diego, to San Luis Obispo in under nine hours. From Los Angeles, five round trips continue up north; two running up to San Luis Obispo, and three running up to Goleta, or the University of California, Santa Barbara. 

Traveling over 350 miles, the Surfliner is a passenger train administered by the LOSSAN Rail Corridor Agency, which is also incorporated with the Metrolink and Coaster. The train makes about 25 to 30 stops in between the north and south destinations of California. Over the years, many stops have been discontinued for the Surfliner, due to lowrider ship and cross-ticketing arrangements. 

Amtrak’s Pacific Surfliner is the second busiest intercity passenger rail corridor in the United States with 26 daily trains and an annual ridership of nearly 3 million, according to the Pacific Surfliner website. The California Department of Transportation provides fundings to operate this service; owning every locomotive and most rolling stock. Amtrak began ownership of The Surfliner in the 1970s and began the introduction in the 2000s. 

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One of the Surfliner’s top hot stops and busiest stations is the Amtrak Train Station Santa Barbara. The Santa Barbara station is a passenger rail station which is served by two Amtrak lines; the Coastal Starlight and the Pacific Surfliner which are both fully staffed with ticketing and baggage services.

Amtrak’s Pacific Surfliner has many different cars for travelers, including classic coach seats, observation rooms, and private rooms with a bathroom and bed. Along the ride, the travelers are able to get picturesque views of the ocean and mountains across the coast.

“We see a lot of students on Surfliner especially towards the end of the year,” Mariah Guiterrez said. Guiterrez works as a staff member on the Surfliner.

Taking the Surfliner through the coast of California has been proved to be very cost-effective as well as energy-efficient, according to the Transportation and Logistic International magazine. From Santa Barbara, driving south to San Diego oftenly leads to the Los Angeles traffic, or the I-405. The 405 is one of the busiest freeways in the country, the most commonly used highway to LAX, and a bypass for Interstate 5.

The Pacific Surfliner travels through stations in the radius of Cal State Fullerton, University of California Los Angeles, University of Southern California, University of California Irvine, California Polytechnic State University, University of California Santa Barbara, and many more. The Surfliner has seemed to be exceedingly common for students traveling home during the holidays. 

Students traveling up Northern Californian often take The Surfliner up to San Luis Obispo, in order to avoid the 405. Although the Surfliner does not extend past San Luis Obispo, many students find taking the Surfliner very enjoyable.

 “Nothing can beat the impeccable view when taking the Surfliner,” Constance Rutherford said, a student at Santa Barbara City College traveling north. “Sitting back and watching the ocean on a four hour trip makes it all worth it.”

The Surfliner offers reclinable seats, power outlets, free wifi, restrooms in every train, a cafe, bike and luggage racks, and windows overlooking the pacific ocean throughout the entire train. The cafe offers onboard market-style fresh food which includes multiple snacks and beverages, as well as hot items. 

The rail network, for both passengers and freight, is able to produce lower GHG emissions than driving or taking a plane. Shifting trips from road and air can reduce overall transportation emissions.

The Pacific Surfliner has been actively running for almost over two decades, getting busier as gas and plane prices rise. This train has about six daily trips each day, with almost each train being completely filled with travelers.

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