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Two Millionth Rider on the Amtrak Surfliner Sept. 30, 2003

Two Millionth Rider on the Caltrans/Amtrak Surfliner

Passenger Rail System

September 30, 2003

By Carl Morrison,


• Kickoff Event

The Kickoff Event of the celebration of the Two Millionth Rider on the Caltrans/Amtrak Surfliner Passenger Rail System on September 30, 2003, commenced at the Santa Fe depot in San Diego, California.  Speeches and media coverage started at 7:30 a.m.


Phyllis manned the welcome table, with
Dee Mason, Regional Sales Director, Amtrak




Richard Phelps

General Superintendent Southwest Division, Amtrak

Richard has worked for Amtrak since 1973 in various cities as Chicago, Ft. Wayne, Indiana, New Orleans and other cities.

"...the plan is to get the trip from San Diego to Los Angeles down to 2 hours, and to get people out of their cars."

"...we have a 12% increase at this station, an Inter Modal Station, with trolley, bus, and Amtrak service all in one station."

Rail-to-Rail has been a great succes, adding 27,000 more riders.

The Metrolink has a 90% on time record, and takes 13 lanes of traffic away from our crowded freeways daily with its 56,000 passengers a day.  It started with 24 trains a day and now has 138 trains a day.

Julianne Nygaard

LOSSAN Rail Corridor Agency

"For more than 30 years, Amtrak has been serving the southern California region.  This California corridor is second only to the busy Northeast Corridor in overall ridership.  Our LOSSAN corridor carries more than 6 million passengers a year.  That is taking a million cars off Interstate 5 and Highway 101 every year!  We are pleased to celebrate the success of the Pacific Surfliner service. Amtrak brings a premier service to our region and is a great partner in improving transportation choices for Southern California commuters."


Joe Kellejian

San Diego Association of Governments, Sandag
Chair, Transportation Committee

Dennis Trujillo

Deputy Director
State of California, Dept. of Transportation
Division of External Affairs

Julie Ritter of COASTER said that it takes, between Oceanside and San Diego, one lane of traffic off I-405 each morning

Amtrak's Pacific Surfliner

Amtrak California's Pacific Surfliner  corridor extends 347 miles, through 32 cities and six counties from San Diego to San Luis Obispo.  There are 11 daily round trips between San Diego-Los Angeles, with four daily round trips continuing north to Santa Barbara, with one round trip extending to San Luis Obispo.

New Initiatives

From in-station and on-board service employees to the mechanics and reservation agents, Pacific Surfliner will deliver a new level of customer satisfaction.  Changes planned include new on-board menus featuring fresh local food selections and regional wines, new automated fare processing to replace current manual ticket collection, new and refurbished passenger stations, upgrades to the on-line reservation system and more Hertz rental car connections.  All Pacific Surfliner  trains will offer reserved Pacific Business Class Service with complimentary beverages, snacks and daily newspapers.

Sample Fares

One-way adult fares may be as low as:
San Diego-Los Angeles             $25
Los Angeles-Santa Barbara        $17
Los Angeles-San Luis Obispo    $26
For schedule, route and fare information, visit a staffed Amtrak station, an authorized travel agent, call 1-800-USA-RAIL, or visit .


Rob Roy, Jr.

Two Millionth Passenger
Rob has 23 years in with the Navy and will retire next year.  He likes to work on the train, a 'seamless office,' with his laptop and cell phone.  He talks with Navy Seal recruits as they travel between San Diego and Los Angeles.  He thanked the previous 1,999,000 riders for his award.

One of the early treats Rob received this day was a cab ride.

Walt Drogan

Security assigned to the station by Sterling
for 13 years.


Boarding the Surfliner for Los Angeles.


Head end ready for departure to LAUS.

Julie Ritter
(Second from Left), said COASTER ridership is up between Oceanside and San Diego.  The number of writers is equivalent to one lane of traffic each morning on I-405.

Robert Roy, Jr.  Biography
BMC (SEAL) Robert Roy, Jr.

Currently assigned under the Commander of Naval Special Warfare Command,
BMC Robert Roy, Jr. is the Leading Chief Petty Officer for the Naval Special Warfare Motivators in Coronado, CA.

Chief Petty Officer Roy enlisted in United States Naval service August 1, 1980, in Milwaukee, WI.  Following basic training at the Recruit Training Center in San Diego, CA., he attended a variety of aviation jet engine repair schools at NAS Miramar, before being shipped off to the Persian Gulf aboard the USS Nimitz.

During the 6 years that followed, the Nimitz Battle Group engaged the enemy in air-to-air combat and maritime interdiction through the Persian Gulf and Mediterranean Sea, most notably, the conflict in Libya.  

In 1986 Chief Roy received a two-year overseas assignment in Spain where he furthered his education by earning an Associate degree from the University of Maryland.  He was assigned to Basic Underwater Demolition/SEAL training.  Chief Roy graduated BUD/S Class 147 (No bell Hell Week) in Dec. 1987 and was assigned to SEAL Team Two, Virginia Beach, VA.

Chief Roy’s first operational assignment was with the Winter Warfare platoon, with primary operations in the Artic Circle.  After three years, Chief Roy chose to season himself by operation in other extreme environmental conditions -- further ensuring SEAL/s operate on the sea, air and land, desert, jungles and urban areas.

In 1990, Chief Roy was assigned to the Naval Special Warfare Development Group where he served for more than seven years before being recruited to his current command as the Leading Chief Petty Office for Naval Special Warfare Motivators. Chief Roy is primarily responsible for recruiting and screening the best possible applicants, eligible to apply for the SEAL and SWCC programs.

After more than 23 years of active service, Chief Roy will be leaving the Navy to follow his second career as an actor.  Rob Roy has appeared in films such as Pearl Harbor, xXx, The Gatekeeper, The Appointment, and is currently cast in Afghan Nights and Smart Card.  He also is the spokesperson for Playstation 2 SOCOM and soon to be released SOCOM II.

Mr. Roy is an Amtrak Veterans Advantage member, and commutes from San Diego to Los Angeles tri-weekly on the Pacific Surfliner.

• Surfliner Train # 567 from San Diego to LA Union Station

Train #567 was scheduled to depart San Diego at 8:10 a.m. for a scheduled arrival in Los Angeles at 10:50 a.m.


Angela Starr (left), Manager
Employee and Customer Communications


Richard Williams, Train Attendant
 (18 years with Amtrak)
He works on the Coast Starlight as a waiter and makes himself available for work like this on his 4 days off.  He and his wife live in Temecula.

Marisol Munoz, Conductor of Surfliner 567
(15 years with Amtrak)

Fullerton Station and the sun.

Fullerton Station is the home of (second floor, behind the 4 small windows.)


Fullerton's Pedestrial Bridge to Track 2


Dennis Trujillo returning to the Business Class car from his cab ride with Richard Phelps at Fullerton Station.

Engineer from San Diego to Los Angeles

Amtrak managers have great relationships with the front-line employees and communication is welcomed.

KFWB interviewed Rob (above)  at the LA Union Station, as well as Richard Phelps (left) and later that evening, I heard Richard's comments on the radio.

• Second Event in Los Angeles Union Station

The 2 Millionth Surfliner Rider Celebration continues at Los Angeles Union Station


Linda helping with the 'Celebration on the Platform' at LAUS.

The Amtrak attendees wanted Rob's picture with a Surfliner in the background.  We had all come together from San Diego on the Pacific Business Class car first ride in business class, but not my last...I'm hooked on the amenities!

Richard Phelps, Amtrak General Superintendent Southwest Division, whose comments were heard later in the day on LA radio station KFWB.


The newest addition at the LA Union Station is the addition of the Gold Line, the entrance to which is clearly marked.

Charles B. Roebuck, III, (left) helped design the cafe and business class cars for the Surfliner.  He and Patrick Merrill are happy with the day's activities and the success of the Pacific Surfliner.



Rob receiving a token of appreciation from Larry Broughton, owner of the Inn of the Spanish Garden in Santa Barbara, ( ) who donated a two-night weekend stay as part of Mr. Roy's 2 millionth passenger grand prize.


Laura Kath

The enthusiastic representative of  Santa Barbara Car Free! Laura Kath, Promotions Coordinator, Santa Barbara Car Free Project
( ) P.O. Box 60436, Santa Barbara, CA  93160




Charles B. Roebuck , III, Manager, On Board Service Pacific Surfliner


Ridership continues to Rise on All Amtrak Trains in California

OAKLAND, Calif.--September 15, 2003--Combined August ridership on Amtrak's three California intrastate routes is up 11.4 percent compared to the same period one year ago, carrying a record 348,000 passengers during the month.

    The three state-supported routes include the San Francisco/Oakland/San Jose Capitols, the Bakersfield-Oakland/Sacramento San Joaquins and the San Luis Obispo-Los Angeles-San Diego Pacific Surfliners.

Ridership was up 18.7 percent on Amtrak's Pacific Surfliner over the same period last year with 221,941 passengers traveling along the route.  In July, ridership was up 32.4 percent over the previous year.  Amtrak's Pacific Surfliner operate 11 round trips Monday-Thursday and 12 roundtrips Friday-Sunday between San Diego and Los Angeles, with four extended to Santa Barbara and one continuing to San Luis Obispo.

    Governor Gray Davis said, "Our entire state-supported intercity train system is an unqualified success.  California's intercity passenger rail service continues to attract riders at record levels.  Our investments in enhanced rail services have set the standard for the rest of the nation to follow."

    The California Department of Transportation partners with Amtrak to provide service between San Diego and San Luis Obispo via Los Angeles and Santa Barbara on the Pacific Surfliner.

Amtrak passengers enjoy rail service in more than 500 communities in 46 states across 22,000-mile route system.  For schedules, fares and reservations, visit Amtrak's Web site at

With some time after a bite from the excellent catered buffet, before our train departed to Santa Barbara, I strolled inside Los Angeles Union Station (LAUS).  I always find the station so photogenic and, as usual found that professional movie makers have the same feeling as well, as I found a film crew in the old ticket window section up front.


The TRAXX restaurant in the station.


The old, restored, ticket windows was a restricted area for movie work.


Across the lobby from TRAXX is the UNION Bagel for lighter faire.

Shooting from the tunnel to the trains back west.

There's our Surfliner - 769 listed as On Time at 12:30 pm, I still have 45 minutes!  Richard Phelps has called this and San Diego Station  Intermodal stations, note the other trains and busses that leave from LAUS just in the 3 hours listed in the middle of a weekday on the board!


Through the tunnel to the trains and out the east end is a whole new area of the station I had never seen before.



The Los Angeles Metropolitan Transportation Authority building.  Headquarters and bus station.


East entrance to Union Station.  You can see 'Union Station' in front of the word Gold, advertising the new Metro Gold Line.

• Surfliner # 769 from Los Angeles to Santa Barbara.

Train # 769 was scheduled to leave LAUS at 12:30 p.m. and arrive in Santa Barbara at 3:04 p.m.

We departed LAUS for San Diego, our last Celebration stop.


This type of sign keeps Surfliner passengers informed in each car.  This station had special meaning for me on this trip as you will see in the links at the end of this report.

Santa Barbara's Two Millionth Rider of the Pacific Surfliner celebration was the largest of the three, even though Santa Barbara was the smallest of the three cities involved.  In attendance were all 3 local TV stations and radio.  The Mayor (red jacket) and City Council were there as well as local businesses who had gifts for Rob.  


Engineer, Leonard Sandoval, took the trainset on to Goleta where he would take a 4 hr. break in his shift before returning to S.B. Station with the same trainset at 7 for the last Pacific Surfliner of the day from Santa Barbara to Los Angeles.  His work day would end there and a new engineer would step into the cab car and lead the train from that position on to San Diego.


Left to right, Sarah Swain (Blue Suit), State Rep., Hannah-Beth Jackson, Mayor of Santa Barbara Marty Blum (red jacket).

Horton, Santa Barbara City Council Member

•   Third event of the day was at Santa Barbara (SBA) depot

The third and final event of the day was at Santa Barbara (SBA) depot, and it began upon arrival of train # 769 (scheduled at  3:15 p.m.)

Santa Barbara food, dignitaries, and businesses awaited Mr. Roy's arrival.


First speaker, Jim Kemp, Executive Director of the Santa Barbara County Association of Governments.

California Assembly Member, Hannah-Beth Jackson, presented Rob with a framed Proclamation


Julianne Nygaard

LOSSAN Rail Corridor Agency


Patrick Merrill, Manager
Capital Projects
Caltrans Div. of Rail

Concluded with fact filled remarks*.

Nadine Turner , Director
Sales and Marketing, Hotel Santa Barbara

Patrick Merrill, Manager
Capital Projects
Caltrans Div. of Rail

His remarks in Santa Barbara:

Our partnerships with Amtrak, the communities along the Surfliner route and our customers have all contributed to the current record levels of ridership and revenue for the intercity service.

The $600 million investment by the state and Amtrak in recent years and has provided the momentum for improved on-time performance, improved ride quality, expanded parking, renovated stations and the new generation of rail cars and locomotives.

The renovation of the historic rail station in downtown Santa Barbara is a great example of the public's investment making a difference in the communities served by the Surfliners.

The investment in rail service is extremely important as it gives the public travel options and helps reduce highway congestion, thereby improving mobility in California.

The Pacific Surfliner Route in one of the fastest growing rail corridors in the nation thanks to our customers, strong marketing efforts and our partners (Amtrak, commuter railroads, freight RRs and local communities)

More people are using rail in Calif. today than in the so-called Golden Age of railroading during the 1920s and '30s.

Innovative efforts such as the Rail-2-Rail program with Amtrak and Metrolink are improving mobility in our urban areas and are a strong contributor to the record ridership growth on the coast line.  Again, this program reduces transit barriers and gives the traveling public more options.

Patrick Merrill


Mona and Mark Gomez, who have visited  in Fullerton, CA, were at the celebration.

Rob receiving more gifts.

Rob was an excellent speaker.  He referred to his regular commute on the Surfliner from San Diego to Los Angeles in his job as a Navy Seale recruiter.  He said, 'The train is a seamless office as I move from my San Diego Office to the Surfliner and on to Los Angeles, with the computer plug-ins at each seat and the use of my cell phone.  I also have time to talk with recruits as we travel the coast."


The Santa Barbara audience, largest of the 3 cities, included some folks from the Pacific Surfliner who had heard bout the celebration on their way from Los Angeles through an all-train drawing for prizes.

Rob received many gift baskets through the day.


Victoria Pointer, Buellton Mayor, second from left,

Mark Gomez's father and others watching the ceremony.


Left to right:  Bill Connell, Surf Dog stand owner; Rob Roy; Susan Swain; Doug Allard, Director of the Santa Barbara County Air Pollution Control District (lead agency for Santa Barbara Car Free); and Mary Byrd, Project Manager of Santa Barbara Car Free.
Organizer of the whole affair (blue suit) was

Sarah M. Swain
Amtrak Communications
530 Water St. 5th Floor
Oakland, CA 94607

Monica Pisciietta, Station Manager (left)
Richard Marshall, Ticket Clerk
Carol Crego, Service Manager, Pacific Surfliner

An excellent report on the Santa Barbara portion of this day-long event can be viewed at:  There you will find a free companion fare coupon on Amtrak (Surfliner or Coast Starlight) to Santa Barbara.  Also check the Car Free Vacation Package discounts at 16 different Santa Barbara hotels...these folks are serious about your visiting Santa Barbara by train!

The event closed after the Santa Barbara speeches, but the balloons and large ticket promoting the Two Millionth Rider remained for travelers through the Santa Barbara station to see.  Santa Barbara station staff (above) were still smiling at 7 pm when I departed back to Fullerton on the Pacific Surfliner.

Everyone I spoke to felt it was a very successful promotion.

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