Why Altamont ? - The Cities
The creation of a high speed rail system in California brings a new level of mobility to millions of residents. The greater the number of cities that can be linked to the system, the greater its usefulness. While there will be express trains from the Bay Area to Los Angeles, there will also be many local trains serving all of the major cities along the line.
If either the Pacheco or Diablo alternative is selected, no large population center in the San Joaquin Valley north of Merced will be included in the first phase of construction. Additionally, Merced, home of the newest UC campus, only gets service in the initial system if the Diablo alignment is chosen, and only because the alignment would be diverted to serve the city.
If a prudent and business-like decision is made to review the Altamont alignment, most of the cities in the San Joaquin Valley will see service as part of the first phase of the system.
Directly east of the Bay Area, the cities of Merced, Turlock, Modesto, Manteca, and Tracy would all have stations on the HSR line. Additionally, Stockton is just 14 miles from Manteca, so its businesses and residents would benefit from the Altamont alignment, too.
In the Bay Area, an Altamont alignment would offer service to the Tri-Valley/I-680 corridor, which includes Livermore, Pleasanton, Dublin and San Ramon. The area is home to many corporate headquarters, including Chevron-Texaco, one of the largest enterprises in the world. Both the Amador Valley station in Livermore and the Fremont station would offer direct links to BART and provide access to inner East Bay cities such as Emeryville, Oakland and Berkeley.
A stunning number of people live in the cities that would have stations if the Altamont alignment is selected by the State. Not counting Stockton or Merced, there are over 800,000 people in the cities north of the Diablo (and Pacheco) routings. Add in Merced and Stockton, and the total is over 1,100,000.
Contrast the Altamont's 1.1 million population with the Diablo or Pacheco alignments. The Diablo alignment would miss the northern San Joaquin Valley cities and pick up Merced with its population of 62,000; Altamont picks up Merced, too. The Pacheco Pass alignment would serve Los Banos, Gilroy, and Morgan Hill, with a total population of 100,000. That's a difference of almost 1,000,000 people between the corridors.
Each weekday, about 50,000 San Joaquin County residents commute into the Bay Area. Capturing just 10% of that market would fill ten trains each way, each day, each one bringing workers into the Silicon Valley, and at 1/2 to 1/3 the time of the fastest alternative commute.