April 02, 2007
On a quiet night, anywhere in Los Gatos you can probably hear the occasional, faint sound of a train rumbling on by down on Winchester Boulevard, or perhaps as it crosses Southewest Expressway at Bascom. It used to be that the train extended into downtown Los Gatos, and, in fact, the trainline ran all the way to Santa Cruz in one direction and San Francisco in the other, right through Los Gatos. The land once claimed by the trains is now filled with cars and constitutes the town of Los Gatos’s largest parking lot, set perfectly between two busy roads: University Avenue and North Santa Cruz Avenue.
With the congestion and danger of driving on the weavy-windy Highway 17 to the beach, having the train route re-established from Silicon Valley to Santa Cruz may be a good idea and it is not an infrequent debate. At a minimum, it should be on the table for discussion – even if the route didn’t go directly through downtown Los Gatos anymore.
I would agree. Between overcrowding on the roads and the crazy way in which some people drive (you’d think it were a video game with no real consequences if a turn were missed!), plus the cost of gas and concerns for the environment, I believe that the train talks should be revived.
People in Santa Cruz County don’t want the commute to be too convenient, though. And so there are many protests each time a discussion surfaces about a tunnel under “the hill” or a train going over it again.
I’m not a City Planner and I can’t tell you the ins and outs of the whole discussion. Truthfully, I wouldn’t even know who to ask about it, either.
Meanwhile, though, in Los Gatos we can continue to instill a simple love of trains. At the corner of Blossom Hill Road and University Avenues, Los Gatos enjoys two interconnected parks: Vasona Lake County Park and Oak Meadow Park (belonging to the town). One of the unique features of these parks is the Billy Jones Wildcat Railroad, which runs from one park to the next. A friend of mine from southern California, Jay Freeman, brought to my attention an ad for a video about how the railroad works – and the ad is a video of the train in action itself.
In addition to the practical reasons for considering the train’s reestablishment between here and the coast, this video clip reminds me of one more: riding the train is fun.