Wednesday, May 18, 2022     Volume: 23, Issue: 11

Santa Maria Sun / Spotlight

The following article was posted on May 11th, 2022, in the Santa Maria Sun - Volume 23, Issue 11 [ Submit a Story ]
The following articles were printed from Santa Maria Sun [] - Volume 23, Issue 11

Jason Jewell is the new interim manager of the agency that oversees the Pacific Surfliner

By Taylor O'Connor

The Pacific Surfliner train runs along the Pacific coast, extending from San Luis Obispo, cutting through Santa Barbara, and ending at its southernmost destination in San Diego. The surfliner is provided by Amtrak, but overseen by the Los Angeles-San Diego-San Luis Obispo (LOSSAN) Rail Corridor Agency—a joint powers authority used to give more local control to decisions regarding the rail line. 

LOSSAN’s Chief Financial Officer Jason Jewell was named as the interim managing director of the agency when Donna DeMartino stepped down. Jewell will now oversee all agency operations and continue in his role as financial officer, he said. 

Outside of work, Jason Jewell said he enjoys spending time with his wife and three daughters. Jewell was recently named the interim managing director of the Los Angeles-Sand Diego-San Luis Obispo Rail Corridor Agency.

In a statement, Jewell said that he’s committed to working with the agency’s board to advance its goals, which include further restoring the Pacific Surfliner service and other projects that will benefit the coastal corridor. 

Jewell’s been with LOSSAN for seven years and worked in several other transportation agencies in the past, all starting in Santa Barbara County after graduating from UC Santa Barbara, he told the Sun

He worked for Santa Barbara County for five to six years before moving to Orange County to work in Mission Viejo’s finance department, then got a job at the Orange County Transportation Authority—the managing agency of LOSSAN—and finally landed his position within the agency, Jewell said. 

As LOSSAN’s interim manager, he said he will be in the role until the agency’s board of directors finds a candidate to replace him or decides to keep him in the position. In the meantime, he said he hopes to work on getting the Surfliner back to pre-pandemic service levels and developing a coastal resiliency plan. 

“There’s been concerns about the coastal zone and areas that come close to the water, like erosion issues and land movement issues,” he explained. “Discussions continue to happen about water level rise and other impacts that could potentially erode the land right by the tracks.” 

The agency’s currently analyzing studies and working with its stakeholders to find a coordinated solution to this problem, Jewell said. 

“Because LOSSAN doesn’t own any of the tracks, there’s a lot of areas with specific owners that we have to work with, and [we] definitely want them to be at the table to help coordinate and discuss. I haven’t been personally involved, but I know it’s something that’s been a hot topic that I do intend to be more involved in,” he continued. 

Along with environmental concerns, LOSSAN’s looking closely at demand levels as the Surfliner works its way out of the pandemic, Jewell said. 

“Prior to COVID, we were looking at longer-term plans to add additional round trips and add capacity, but COVID turned everything upside down. Now, we’re looking at what the trend forecasts look like and what that means for long-term plans,” he said. 

The future’s showing promise as April ridership levels were the highest they’ve been since the pandemic started, Jewell added. 

“It’s a real reassuring and positive trend, and I think we have to be poised and ready that if that trend continues, we don’t have overcrowded trains. We are looking at different ways to add equipment and planning for that right now,” he said. “The new normal isn’t less ridership. I hope and think positively that it will come back.” 


• The 37th annual Central Coast Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) Exposition will be held May 13 from 5 to 8 p.m. and Saturday, May 14, from 8 a.m. to noon at the Lompoc High School Gymnasium. An awards reception will be held Saturday, May 14, at 7 p.m., and the community is invited to view the projects and share in the work accomplished by local students, parents, and teachers. Vandenberg Space Force Base scientists and engineers will judge the entries. Lompoc High School is located at 515 West College Ave. 

• The Santa Barbara County Registrar of Voters Office is seeking community members interested in working the June 7 statewide direct primary election. Poll workers will receive a stipend of $180 to $310 depending on their position for working on Election Day and attending poll worker training. Volunteers are most needed in both the Lompoc and Santa Maria areas. To learn more about the poll worker program and training process, visit

Taylor O’Connor wrote this week’s Spotlight. You can reach her at

Weekly Poll
What type of vegetable would you grow in a free community garden?

Brussel Sprouts, they are the best.
Broccoli because it can go with any meal.
Tomatoes, although I think those are technically a fruit.
French fries!

| Poll Results

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