Monthly Archives

January 2008

Commentary, Issues

RailPAC’s Dyson strongly replies to Mr. Kummant ‘s “explanation” for suspending the Coast Starlight

NOTE: The original letter from Mr. Dyson, letters of support, and Mr. Kummant’s reply appear as separate posts below on this site.
January 29, 2008
Mr. Alex Kummant
President and CEO

National Railroad Passenger Corporation
60 Massachusetts Avenue, N.E.
Washington, DC 20002

Via fax to 202 906 2850

COAST STARLIGHT SUSPENSION

Dear Mr. Kummant:

Thank you for your letter of yesterday replying to my concerns about the Coast Starlight. While your response is an excellent tour d’horizon of the circumstances leading to your decision, it contains no real response to the key issues. What is more important to Amtrak, preserving your franchise,
providing transportation in accordance with or substituting for your advertised schedules, and preserving thirty years of painstakingly accumulated political goodwill, OR saving a few thousands of dollars each day in operating expenses? It is facile to state that ridership is light, with the inference that therefore providing service is not very important. One could well argue that such light loads should be rectified by better marketing and pricing, but in any event that is beside the point. The point is you have an obligation to provide service, or at least as much service as you possibly can, and I have no doubt that your line managers are capable of rising to the occasion.

On the political front your people will no doubt have told you that ALL expenditure, including the intercity rail budget, is under severe threat here in
California. Whether we agree or not your announced policy is to develop “corridors” in partnership with the states. California is the poster child for this process having spent over $1 billion of California tax dollars on its rail programs. Over the next few weeks lawmakers will be fighting over the budget, the end result of which may well be cuts in the state rail
corridor services. How can you have been so ill-advised as to annul the state’s premier north-south long distance train at just the time when
rail advocates and pro-rail policy makers are trying to sell the state rail program as having relevance to our transportation needs? If you lose California as a corridor partner your entire policy is in shambles.

Regarding diverting passengers to the state rail and bus network, the irony is that for 36 hours I-5 was closed north of Los Angeles, meaning that the
Bakersfield/San Joaquin service was not an option. In any event, rail passengers regard buses as a poor substitute for a one-seat train ride. I cannot accept that the “prudent planning and analysis” required for
a one train a day service should take more than day or two, nor do I accept that “the challenges presented by running stub trains and bus bridges, especially in winter”, are so much greater than normal operations.

You sell your people short by saying so. Indeed you give the lie to that statement by reporting that the bus bridge bedded in quite well on day two. Probably the bus ride between Eugene and Klamath Falls is measurably quicker than the train.

Given what is happening with the Sunset, the Crescent and now the Coast Starlight, RailPAC will inevitably come to the conclusion that there is once again a concerted attempt to shut down the long distance network by driving away passengers with these extended annulments. You are either in business to run these trains and provide the advertised service, or not.
The public deserves an honest answer.

Yours faithfully,
Paul J. Dyson
President

Issues

Reply to RailPAC letter re Coast Starlight suspension, from Amtrak’s Kummant

NOTE: The original letter from Mr. Dyson appears in the next post below this one.

January 28, 2008
Mr. Paul J. Dyson
President
Rail Passenger Association of California

1008 – 10th Street, Suite 217
Sacramento, CA 95814

Dear Mr. Dyson:

Thank you for your letter of January 22 regarding your concerns with the temporary cessation of the Coast Starlight service. As you are aware, the Union Pacific Railroad (UPRR) mainline across the Cascade Range has been closed because of a significant landslide at Coyote Mountain, which is between Chemult and Eugene, Oregon.

The Coast Starlight is one of our premiere services and ranks highly among our long-distance services in terms of ridership and revenue. That said, this time of year, late January and February, is in relative terms the seasonal low point for ridership on this train. When the landslide at Coyote Mountain occurred on January 19, it was difficult to obtain from UPRR a reliable estimate of the extent of the damage and the duration of track closure, for reasons outlined below. In fact, the duration of track closure is still unclear at this time.

Initial reports from UPRR on January 19 indicated that an area about 0.8 miles in length was covered with 4-10 feet of debris, but that the line might reopen within two or three days. We immediately instituted a bus bridge between Klamath Falls and Portland to accommodate passengers who already were enroute. On January 19, this resulted in a 9 hour delay for northbound passengers and a nearly 6 hour delay for southbound passengers, though delays caused by the bus bridge were reduced over the following days.

Late in the day on January 20, UPRR provided Amtrak with an updated track repair estimate of two or three weeks. The damage report was more significant that earlier reported, covering parts of a segment 14 miles in length, with areas of track buried in 15 feet of debris, and with continued movement of the soil in the area. The location is in a very remote, steeply sloped area with minimal road access. On January 21, the bus bridge resulted in a 1 hour delay for northbound passengers and a 19 minute delay for southbound passengers. We decided to continue the bus bridge for three more days (January 22, 23 and 24), but then annul the Coast Starlight in its entirety, including the bus bridge, through February 1.

This decision was made after careful consideration of projected passenger counts and revenues, compared to bus bridge costs and added employee-related expenses, particularly, the relocation of mechanical forces to Klamath Falls to turn and service the train set that would terminate there is service continued to operate during this extended track outage. The bus bridge costs are not insignificant, approximately $12,000-$15,000 a day. We also considered that, as stated above, usage of the Coast Starlight in late January is less than at other times of year, and the challenges presented by running stub trains and bus bridges, especially in winter.

We carefully evaluated all of these factors and looked at every opportunity available to us, including talking to BNSF Railway, which has a potential detour route via Wishram, Washington, and Bend, Oregon. This detour route proved not to be practical due to its 49-mph top speeds and the many UPRR freights already diverted to it because of the track outage.

After this evaluation process, we came to the decision of annulling the train through the area for two weeks in order to give the UPRR a chance to give us an informed timetable for reopening the line, which then would allow us to go back and determine what future steps we can take, and when we can take them. In the end, the cost of running stub trains and a bus bridge far outweighed the revenue benefits of running the train during these firs two weeks of the track outage.

We also considered whether to operate stub trains on the northern and southern extreme of the route. Again, given the season and other factors, we found that running the stub trains made no sense for the period through February 1. In the north, parallel Cascades service has ample space this time of year to carry additional passengers. Also, the northbound Coast Starlight carries no local passengers north of Eugene.

In the south, we found that ridership on the Coast Starlight that is local to the Los Angeles-Sacramento segment is light during this season and could be diverted temporarily to the State’s network of corridor trains and thruway buses for the period through February 1. For example, there is the Pacific Surfliner service from Los Angeles to San Luis Obispo and the Capitol Corridor service from San Jose to Sacramento, also connected by thruway bus service. Also, passengers to and from Los Angeles can use connecting thruway bus and the San Joaquin train service via Bakersfield. During this current two-week period, we will have the chance to talk with Caltrans about other bussing options to bridge parts of this route. You raised a number of arguments in favor of marketing a stub train along the coast route within California. However, keeping in mind that our decision was made on January 21 with a hope of restoring service early in February, a process of prudent planning and analysis of the sort of service that you have suggested would likely have taken as long as the service outage lasted.

That said, UPRR has not yet given us a firm indication of when the line in Oregon will reopen. February is a relatively weaker period for the Coast Starlight, but ridership historically increases heading into March and April. You can be assured that we want to reinstitute the service as quickly as possible. Given the information available to us, we believe that the decision we made was the correct one. We expect within the next two weeks, the service options available to us will become clearer, and that a more definite path to full recovery will be found. We will keep the public informed as we make any such determinations.

Sincerely,
Alex Kummant
President and Chief Executive Officer
(via fax on Amtrak letterhead)

Rail Photos

Rail PHOTOS from California’s Central Coast

christmas-2007-007.jpg San Luis Obispo and Santa Barbara in December christmas-2007-011.jpg

Comments and 5 photos by Russ Jackson, RailPAC website editor

christmas-2007-006.jpg
San Luis Obispo station, Sunday, December 16, 2007, 2:45 PM. Amtrak train 11, the southbound Coast Starlight, has arrived 35 minutes EARLY, with a sold-out load of Christmas time passengers. Too bad that great service is now suspended entirely due to the Oregon mud slide.

christmas-2007-007.jpg
The southbound Coast Starlight, with Pacific Parlour Car, is buttoned up ready to depart San Luis Obispo on December 16, 2007. The train arrived on time in Los Angeles that night. How many passengers in California are now denied this service because Amtrak suspended the service in January?

christmas-2007-009.jpg
Thruway buses at the Santa Barbara Amtrak station on December 17, 2007. Currently there are four buses from SBA to connect daily with the San Joaquins in Bakersfield. These buses are in jeopardy of cancellation due to low ridership, although when there were two a day they did well!

christmas-2007-010.jpg
Large crowd waiting to board Pacific Surfliner 784 on a Monday, December 17, 2007, in Santa Barbara. The train will shortly arrive from Goleta enroute to Los Angeles.

christmas-2007-011.jpg
Surfliner 784 is ready to depart SBA on December 17. Note that a Superliner coach is in the consist to “expand capacity.” to 6 cars. One problem with that is the Superliner exit door must be hand opened when one is in the consist. On a few occasions passengers have not been able to get off the train in Oxnard because the crew “forgot” to open that door, and those riders had to stay on to Santa Barbara and then return. Why isn’t that Superliner car in the Christmas time consist of a long distance train earning big revenue?

Commentary, Issues

SUSPENSION OF COAST STARLIGHT SERVICE

Amtrak must reverse its decision to cancel the train during the Oregon washout!
A letter to Amtrak President Alex Kummant from RailPAC President Paul Dyson

RAIL PASSENGER ASSOCIATION OF CALIFORNIA
22nd January, 2008
Mr. Alex Kummant
President and Chief Executive Officer
NATIONAL RAILROAD PASSENGER CORPORATION
60 Massachusetts Avenue NE
Washington DC 20002

SUSPENSION OF COAST STARLIGHT SERVICE

Dear Mr. Kummant:

After our meeting last March in Los Angeles rail advocates on the west coast felt optimistic that there is a new, more businesslike attitude at Amtrak, and that we could look forward to a new era of customer service and a determination to protect the franchise. I am therefore very distressed to learn that your company proposes to suspend Coast Starlight service throughout its entire length because of a mudslide in central Oregon. Although your managers may be telling you that there is an opportunity to save operating cash during this off peak season, you are making a very big mistake by suspending service in California.

The California Transportation Commission meets February 14 to decide, amongst other issues, whether to fund a menu of rail projects approved by the voters last year with Proposition 1B. Included in this list is $25 million for signal and track improvements on the Coast line, as well as a number of investments in the state-supported corridors. In view of your stated objective to build partnerships with the states, the timing of your demonstration of the unreliability of passenger rail on one of your most popular routes could not be worse.

I have just spent this past 4 days in San Luis Obispo at a meeting of the Coast Rail Coordinating Council and at a RailPAC sponsored public meeting. At the CRCC, representatives from all the counties between L.A. and the Bay area continue to express support for expanded rail service. They plan to lobby the CTC meeting in favor of the $25 million for the Coast. The RailPAC meeting attracted over 50 residents who came to learn about how passenger rail can provide improved mobility for residents and attract tourists and their dollars. I was guest on a local talk radio station Friday evening and the callers were unanimous in their support for rail, with one caveat; poor reliability. All the goodwill generated by the efforts of our group and of those public officials who support passenger rail will be devalued by your opportunistic decision to save a few operating dollars.

This should be a busy season on the Coast Starlight, at least in California. The weather is temperate and there are hotel rooms available especially midweek. You should be promoting midweek packages especially for overseas tourists, not canceling trains. And don’t let your people tell you that trains 798/799 provide a substitute. These ghastly trains, with their sad Horizon equipment, third world schedules, leaving L.A. too early to make a San Diego connection, and bus service north of San Luis Obispo, are NOT an acceptable substitute for the Coast Starlight.

I strongly recommend that you review this decision. I realize that reconfiguring schedules in these circumstances takes time and effort. That’s why you have managers. I realize that some passengers will cancel their trips and you will lose some revenue. But you will lose far more in goodwill and credibility if you take the easy way out and cancel the trains. So do some low cost local advertising on the Coast, with coupons, suspend the reservations only requirement, and use this as an opportunity to introduce your service to some new customers.

I hope to hear from you soon that you have reversed your decision.

Yours faithfully,
Paul J. Dyson, President

Commentary, Issues

Letters written in support of RailPAC position on Coast Starlight suspension

The following letters have been written in support of RailPAC’s position of opposing Amtrak’s outright cancellation of the Coast Starlight because of the landslide in Oregon. (1) to Senator Boxer (2) from LOSSAN Corridor (3) from SBCAG As other letters are received we will add them here.

(1)
January 24, 2008

HON. BARBARA BOXER
SENATOR, STATE OF CALIFORNIA

VIA Fax to Casey Jackson
213 894 5047

AMTRAK COAST STARLIGHT TRAIN SERVICE SUSPENDED

Dear Senator Boxer:

The Coast Starlight is Amtrak’s flagship service on the west coast. This popular train between Los Angeles and Seattle, WA, serves as a link for many cities along the way, including Oxnard, Santa Barbara, San Luis Obispo, Salinas, San Jose, Sacramento, and Redding. Many of these cities have colleges or universities, many have little or no air or inter city bus service, and the train brings in tourists from within the state and overseas.

On Sunday a major landslide occurred in central Oregon which severed the line, and we now hear that it could be weeks, even months, before normal service is resumed. In the past, and on railroad systems around the world, the normal practice is to run the train over as much of the route as is practicable, and provide a bus connection for the “gap”. Amtrak did this for three days but has now decided to save money by cancelling service through the entire length of the route.

North of the blockage Amtrak has the “Cascade” service between Seattle and Eugene so passengers have an alternative. To the south there is no through train until you reach San Luis Obispo.

RailPAC would like you to consider the following points:

Amtrak is a federal entity funded by the taxpayer, and should not be permitted to arbitrarily suspend service over one of its core system routes, leaving over 700 route miles in California without service.
If a train can be cancelled for weeks, if not months at a time, taxpayers can justifiably ask why we are supporting the program at all. Is the train part of our transportation system, or just a novelty?
California, more than any other state, provides additional funds to Amtrak to provide a system of trains in the LOSSAN, Capitol Corridor, and San Joaquin corridors as well as connecting buses. Amtrak needs to be told that this action on their part is political suicide if they wish for continued support from the California Congressional delegation.

RailPAC believes that Amtrak should immediately reinstate Coast Starlight service between Los Angeles and Klamath Falls. For its part, RailPAC pledges, along with the cities and counties along the line, to do all it can to encourage Californians to ride the train on that part of the line that is open to offset the revenue loss from the long distance passengers.

Senator, we know that you have been a long time supporter of Amtrak and of environmentally friendly transportation alternatives. Our all volunteer group actively campaigns for passenger rail, yet all our efforts are likely to be undercut if there is the perception that passenger rail cannot be relied upon. Please support our efforts to have this train restored.

Yours faithfully,
Paul J. Dyson, President
Pdyson@railpac.org

(2)

January 24, 2008
Mr. Alex Kummant
President and Chief Executive Officer
National Railroad Passenger Corporation (Amtrak)
60 Massachusetts Avenue NE
Washington DC 20002

RE: SUSPENSION OF THE COAST STARLIGHT SERVICE

Dear Mr. Kummant:

On behalf of the Los Angeles – San Diego – San Luis Obispo (LOSSAN) Rail Corridor Agency, we urge you to reconsider your recent decision to suspend Coast Starlight service due to recent mudslides in Oregon. Californians have shown that they use rail service and the market continues to grow.
As you know, the Starlight currently serves as our only rail service between northern and southern California and while Amtrak motorcoach service operates, this should not be considered a substitute for passenger rail service.

We further understand the financial difficulties of operating on an annual appropriations cycle. But at the same time, California voters, and local, regional, and state agencies have been your financial partners since the San Diegans and San Joaquins first began service in the 1970s. More recently, LOSSAN, and our rail corridor partners in the state, were instrumental in passing California Assembly Joint Resolution 18 that signaled bipartisan support for Amtrak from our state. As a result of all our efforts, the system has grown to record ridership levels, high farebox recovery ratios, and currently one in every five Amtrak passengers is riding in California.

We look forward to continued partnerships and we strongly urge you to reverse your decision to suspend Starlight service. If you have any questions, please contact me at (714) 562-3760 or our staff person, Linda Culp at (619) 699-6957.

Sincerely,
HONORABLE ART BROWN, Chair
LOSSAN Rail Corridor Agency
Cc: Corey Jackson, Office of Senator Barbara Boxer
Jonathan Hutchison, Amtrak Government Affairs
LOSSAN Member Agencies

(3)

January 23, 2008

Mr. Alex Kummant
President and Chief Executive Officer
NATIONAL RAILROAD PASSENGER CORPORATION
60 Massachusetts Avenue NE
Washington DC 20002

RE: SUSPENSION OF COAST STARLIGHT SERVICE

Dear Mr. Kummant:

The City of Santa Barbara learned this afternoon that Amtrak is suspending Coast Starlight service throughout its entire length because of a mudslide in central Oregon. The Coast Starlight train service is an important element of transportation to and from our city and throughout California. Indefinitely suspending the train’s service for its entire length would be an unfortunate event impacting thousands of passengers.

We are formally requesting that the Coast Starlight operation be maintained south of the slide to sustain California train service. We believe that suspending the train for its entire length continues to undermine the reliability of passenger rail transportation at a time when our city is supporting increases in service. Additionally, the California Transportation Commission (CTC) will decide at its February meeting whether to fund numerous rail projects with Proposition 1B funds. Included in this list is $25 million for signal and track improvements on the Coast Line. We believe that suspension of the train service sends the wrong message to passengers and the CTC. Please reconsider this decision.

Sincerely,
Jim Armstrong
City Administrator
Cc: Mayor and Councilmembers

Issues

Resolution re ADA and rail platform heights

By Paul Dyson, RailPAC President, and Member Burbank City Transportation Commission
I’m very proud to report that Burbank and RailPAC are
leading the fight to get the ADA station platform
heights ruling nullified.

As you know the USDOT (in their ignorance) wants to
put subway platforms at commuter and intercity
stations and it just doesn’t work without enormous
expense. The attached resolution is a small start in
getting this changed. The Disabilities Council will
be sending it on to our congressmen (Adam Schiff and
Brad Sherman).

Please feel free to use this document to encourage
other jurisdictions to join us in this issue.

Resolution from Burbank Advisory Council on Disabilities

Whereas the Burbank Advisory Council on Disabilities welcomes and supports the provisions of the Americans with Disabilities Act (“ADA”), and

Whereas the said Advisory Council desires the continuation and expansion of Amtrak and Metrolink passenger rail services from the Burbank Train stations, and

Whereas the United States Department of Transportation (“USDOT”) rulemaking (DOT Docket No. 2006-23985) proposes rules that will require prohibitively expensive modifications to stations, trains, or both, without measurably improving access to people with Disabilities, and

Whereas if the said rulemaking is enforced the result will be reduced train service, closure of passenger train stations and reduced mobility for all,

Now therefore the Burbank Advisory Council on Disabilities calls upon the Congress of the United States of America to reverse the USDOT rulemaking, and to cause the USDOT to set up a blue ribbon panel of passengers, members of the disabled community, and train operators to explore cost effective improvements to station access.

Reports

RailPAC meeting in San Luis Obispo attended by over 50 people.

Reported by Paul Dyson, RailPAC President

This past Saturday, January 19, RailPAC held an open meeting in downtown San Luis Obispo primarily aimed at raising grass roots support for the proposed “Coast Daylight” service. The meeting was attended by over 50 people, more than half of them locals , who had heard about the meeting by word of mouth, the RailPAC website, through the Sierra Club e-mail net, or on the local KVEC radio station the evening before. We provided light refreshments, thanks in part to Peet’s Coffee and Tea on nearby Court Street, who generously gave us a discount. (Please go there for Java when you’re in town).

First of all let me thank Pete Rodgers and Tim Gillham of SLOCOG for booking the room, helping with publicity, and providing the laptop and projector for the presentations. Next, Andrew Christie of the local Sierra Club chapter helped spread the word through their e-mail list, and local environmental activist and volunteer station host David Weisman who arranged for Pete Rodgers and myself to join local KVEC Talk Radio host David Congalton for his 5.00pm hour on Friday evening. About a dozen people called in with favorable comments and questions.

On Saturday NARP Board member Dennis Lytton from Los Angeles, Pete Rodgers, and I gave presentations on the National, Regional and Local plans and outlook for passenger rail, and took a number of informed questions from the audience. Thank you to Dennis for traveling up, and to Pete and Tim for giving up their Saturday morning to put on this event.

Finally our own Ric Silver, Art Lloyd, Bruce Jenkins, Dick Spotswood, Chris Flescher and Mike Barnbaum traveled in to host the event. We think it was very worthwhile, and we are planning similar meetings in Monterey County, Palm Springs, and Los Angeles in the next few months. My thinking is that even where elected officials are pro rail, they need to know that there is grass roots support and that they have an active advocacy group behind them. We are already booked to be at Santa Barbara March 1 where we will join local pro-rail groups for a joint meeting. See our website for details.

If you would like to help host a RailPAC meeting in your town, please contact Ric Silver or myself.

Paul Dyson, President

Reports

MEETING REPORT: COAST RAIL COORDINATING COUNCIL

COAST RAIL COORDINATING COUNCIL, TECHNICAL ADVISORY COMMITTEE. “What about the FEMA cars stored outside New Orleans?”
San Luis Obispo, January 18, 2008
Reported by Paul Dyson, RailPAC President

The CRCC TAC met at San Luis Obispo last Friday, January 18, 2008. Amtrak, Caltrans, SLOCOG, Ventura, Santa Barbara County and City, Monterey County, Caltrain (our own Art Lloyd) King City and Soledad were represented, as was RailPAC by Bruce Jenkins, Ric Silver and this writer. The meeting was conducted by Grover Beach Council Member John Shoals who is vice Chair of CRCC. Tom Mulligan, VP Passenger Services for the Union Pacific also attended.

Highlights of the meeting included a presentation by the City of Santa Barbara of their City policy to provide rail service to commuters from Ventura County. Caltrans reported discussions with UP about their infrastructure requirements and hoped that these would be concluded within 60 days.

Art Lloyd brought up the issue of the FEMA cars stored outside New Orleans, that these should be brought into service for an early start up of the Coast Daylight. Jonathan Hutchison of Amtrak promised to review that situation while warning, as usual, that Amtrak had no capital money for the needed refurbishment of these cars. The alternative is likely to be a long wait for the new 1B funded equipment.

The most important immediate issue is the California Transportation Commission meeting at San Mateo February 14. This meeting will discuss and vote on the Prop 1B rail projects, including $25 million for track and signal projects on the Coast line, a necessary precursor to the operation of the “Daylight”. (See “Action Item” elsewhere in this issue). Pete Rodgers of SLOCOG called on all member agencies to send letters of support for this funding to the CTC Board (RailPAC has already written).

Other topics discussed include the ADA platform heights issue. I reported on the resolutions to be passed by the Burbank Commission on Disabilities, which is an attempt to start a wave of grass roots support for a sensible policy on platform heights.

Jonathan Hutchison reported on OTP, ridership etc for the corridor trains. There is still a lot of room for improvement, although ridership, punctuality and revenue are all up from the same period last year.

ACTION ITEM FOR ALL READERS:

Please write letters of support for the Prop 1B inter city rail projects, with particular emphasis on the Coast Daylight $25 million, to:

Mr. James Ghielmetti and Commissioners
California Transportation Commission
1120 N Street, Room 2221 (MS-52)
Sacramento, CA 95814.

The meeting is on February 14, so DO THIS NOW. The opportunity to get these funds for the Daylight will not come around again for at least a year, so WRITE TODAY, and better yet ALSO ask your state representative for support for inter city rail. The voters approved 1B. There should be no delay in funding these projects. More delay means more cost escalation and less bang for our bucks!

Paul Dyson
President, 1/21/08

Reports

California Corridor stats for December

Report from Gene Skoropowski, CCJPB Managing Director

october-2007-010.jpg

We have just received the December 2007 stats from Amtrak, the third month of our FY08 federal fiscal year. For the Capitol Corridor, and indeed for all of California, the ridership and revenue numbers show continued substantial growth. The San Joaquins nudged out the Capitol Corridor for ‘top dog’ in the percentage of growth in ridership, and the Pacific Surfliner ridership also had healthy growth.

Amtrak reports for :

Capitol Corridor (December 2007):

119,507 passengers +9.0% vs. 2006, and another record for the month
$1,681,619 +13.4% vs. 2006

The on-time performance for December was 87%, a substantial improvement over the past months, and the best performance in two years. While delivered service to the customer was slightly below our standard of 90%, the Union Pacific performance reached 92% % for the first time in nearly two years, resulting in their first ‘earned incentive’ payment during that time period. Union Pacific performance has shown sustained performance improvement, incrementally getting better each month.

Although we had another record year for ridership growth on the Capitol Corridor in the prior year, we attributed much of that growth to the 25% increase in service frequency that went into effect in late August 2006. This year, we expected that the growth rate would moderate to about a 5% annual rate, but that has not happened. The first three months ridership growth is +11.5%, and revenue for the same period is +16.3%. At this rate, we will surpass the 12-month ridership mark of 1,500,000 this month (January 2008).

The revenue-to-cost ratio for December is 52.2%, and the year to date revenue-to-cost ratio is 53.3%. Again, this is the best start we have ever had to a fiscal year, for riders, for revenue, and for farebox recovery.

Pacific Surfliners (December 2007):

213,205 passengers +8.9% vs. 2006
$3,749,969 +3.8% vs. 2006

San Joaquins (December 2007):

74,045 passengers +11.3% vs. 2006
$2,536,843 +9.7% vs. 2006

Events

RailPAC January Meeting in SLO

NEW INFORMATION 1/7/08 RailPAC President Paul Dyson says a big crowd is expected! Note that the meeting will end in time to take trains 11, 14, or 799 or some of the connecting buses!
Spend a Saturday on California’s beautiful Central Coast! april-2007-029.jpg
Train798/799 at SLO station.

COME TO this meeting Saturday, January 19, in the San Luis Obispo City/County Library Community Room, 990 Palm Street, SLO.
Your chance to ride the Coast Starlight, the Surfliner/Coast Daylight, and/or Thruway bus connections from the San Joaquins, and perhaps spend the weekend on the Central Coast!

TRAVEL TICKET INFO: (Provided by Associate Director Mike Barnbaum)
Interested parties who are considering attending the San Luis Obispo Meeting over the Martin Luther King Junior Holiday weekend are in for something great if they are members of the Amtrak Guest Rewards Program and want to use the San Joaquins to get to San Luis Obispo for the RailPAC Workshop. So that folks do not miss a thing on the day of the RailPAC Event, I would recommend that travel to and from San Luis Obispo take place on Friday 18 January 2008 and Sunday 20 January 2008. A connecting Thruway bus from the Hanford Amtrak station will get you to SLO. See AmtrakGuestRewards@amtrak.rsys1.com

Coast Starlight “AAA” Discount special receiving 20% off rather than the usual 10% off. See www.amtrak.com/ Use discount code H743. The discount code of H743 applies only to United States Western Region Long Distance Trains and not AmtrakCalifornia trains.

Meeting topics will include pushing our campaign to help the Coast Rail Coordinating Council get the Coast Daylight trains 798/799 extended to San Francisco.

More details will be forthcoming about the program, and other important information. Check this space often!