Bakersfield Businesses Want Downtown Station
A group of downtown Bakersfield businesses are planning to let the City Council know that they want a downtown HSR station – and that they’d ride the train several times a year if it were built:
Downtown Business Association officials said Tuesday that they will speak to the Bakersfield City Council at its Sept. 11 meeting in support of a high-speed rail station in downtown.
The group’s position is based on a recent anonymous e-mail poll of about 300 of its nearly 400 members. Sixty-three percent of the 67 members who responded, or 42 members, indicated that a downtown station would be a boon to business.
Twenty-four percent of members surveyed, or 16 out of 66 members responding, said they would ride the so-called “bullet train” at least 12 times a year.
Forty-five percent of members, or 28 of 62 members responding, said they would ride the train primarily for business.
There is a debate currently taking place in Kern County about whether the HSR station should be downtown or on the edge of the city. If the latter, then some impacts to homes and businesses in the city center might be avoided by not having tracks go through. But there would be impacts to homes and businesses and farms on the edge of town if a station were built out there.
A downtown station is good for business, and as in Fresno, it looks like the local business community understands those benefits and is wisely arguing for a downtown station. A downtown station is good for ridership as well as for the environment, reducing sprawl and promoting sustainable, low-energy transit-oriented development. The stats from the survey on how often they would ride the trains is a good start, and we can expect that once service actually begins, especially from Bakersfield to Los Angeles, more of those business owners will use the trains once they see for themselves how useful it is.
The people of Kern County and Bakersfield in particular have long been supportive of the HSR project, at least broadly. They’ve expressed concerns from time to time, but usually have done so without attacking the project’s existence. It’s too bad that one of their members of Congress, Kevin McCarthy, is going against that support in order to please the right-wing funders who enable him to keep his position in the Republican leadership.