Social Media Solution Sought for Pacific Surfliner Ridership
By Keith Carls, March 5, 2013
The State Department of Transportation says the Pacific Surfrider that runs along the California coast has grown into the second busiest rail corridor in the country.
Serving up ole fashioned home-style cooking next to the train tracks is what business is all about at the Station Grill.
"We have trains that go 40 feet by us", says Station Grill owner Chris Rivas, "you get to see them, you get to hear them and you get to feel them, there's no denying that."
Station Grill customers have had a front row seat as the Pacific Surfliner has grown in popularity over the years.
"When we first opened there were only the four trains", Rivas says, "we now have two extra trains that have started up since we've been in business."
The most recent numbers show ridership on the Pacific Surfliner has fallen in the past two years amid complaints from some the trains are too slow between southern California and the Bay Area.
"Its comfortable, there's no hassle", says train rider Jim Worthen, "you'd expect more people to be taking the train but they don't seem to be doing so."
The State of California and Amtrak believe social media like Facebook and Twitter could actually convince more people to take the train.
The California Department of Transportation has hired a PR firm to promote train ridership by increasing Amtrak California's Facebook fans and Twitter followers by at least 25 percent a year for three years in the $9 million contract.
Its an easy sell for some and made to order for others like Chris Rivas and the Station Grill.
"Definitely, Amtrak is a plus in the area", Rivas says, "it doesn't bring tons and tons of people in right now but it will get better."
"You know its maybe 50 miles of pristine beaches all the way down that you never get to see from the highway, its amazing" adds Jim Worthen about riding the Pacific Surfliner.
Currently there are only about 90,000 Facebook fans and Twitter followers of California Amtrak and the Pacific Surfliner.