August 29, 2006 > A traveling family
A traveling family
by Steve Warga
Whatever your habit, chances are you'll find time over the next two to three hours to visit with other souls you've come to know also heading west to places of employment, Sure, there are always a few people boarding for other destinations, and they may well prove interesting companions for that run. But what you're really looking forward to is the treat of communing with that group of regulars like yourself who use ACE many times each week. You've slowly come to realize that, in the way of human bonding patterns the world over, these fellow travelers are more than mere companions. In a curious and wonderful sense, they are like family to you, a traveling family.
Unlike BART trains, or AC Transit buses, or most other mass transit means, ACE trains provide an atmosphere conducive to familiarity and sharing. As evidence of this, witness the social gatherings arranged by many ACE commuters with and for their daily traveling partners.
Lisa Lorenz, co-owner and proprietor of The Depot Diner in Fremont says, "They'll have get-togethers, barbecues, that sort of thing. They are like a big family." She professes the same sort of bonding with those ACE commuters who frequent the bright and tidy sandwich, coffee and curio shop tucked neatly into one end of historic Centerville Depot. The depot, a "No. 23" style, serves both historic and practical purposes in its current role as a station for Amtrak and ACE. You can stop, board, shop, dine and tour some railroad history all in one well-maintained location.
If you happened to catch the crowds at the Depot on Friday, August 25, you may know that ACE just expanded service with the addition of a long-awaited, round-trip, mid-day service, Monday through Friday. Now, more than just commuters can take advantage of low cost trips between the San Joaquin and Santa Clara valleys. With today's gas prices, traveling ACE means saving money along with the stress reduction of battling traffic through Altamont Pass and the Livermore valley. Lorenz notes how convenient she and her husband, Dirk, find it to take ACE to Santa Clara station and then hop a quick shuttle to San Jose International Airport. "With the new service, we'll have even more flexibility in choosing flight times. It's so much easier than driving and we save money on gas and parking." Lorenz emphasizes her hope for a full seven days of service in the near future. "If this new line works and people use it, ACE may expand to weekends too. That would be really nice."
ACE's future looks bright as the shiny red, white and blue paint on their cars. Catch them at the Centerville Depot, the only operating one of its kind left on the Southern Pacific rail system. Be sure to check out the clever, train-themed gifts and souvenirs at the Depot Diner. Lisa and her parents Victor and Norma will be there, tempting you with one of Victor's decadent cookies, baked fresh daily. She ruefully admits they are habit forming!
Centerville Depot Diner
37260 Fremont Blvd., Fremont
Altamont Commuter Express (ACE)