CCJPA February Meeting report

capitol-16-train-coverby Bruce Jenkins, RailPAC Director The Capitol Corridor Joint Powers Authority (CCJPA) met in Suisun City on Wednesday, February 18, 2009.

The Board approved the CCJPA FY ’09-’10 — FY ’10-’11 Business Plan Update. The Plan will be finalized and submitted to the Secretary of Business, Transportation and Housing Agency (BT&H) by Apr ’09. (Note: this meeting was held before the state budget passed.)

The Business Plan Update is premised on the State’s current financial situation and focuses major attention on CCJPA efforts with Union Pacific RR (UPRR) and Amtrak mechanical staff to improve on-time reliability to acceptable levels (90% “on-time” or better). It also:

* Maintains the current 32-train service plan for FY ’08-’09 and FY ’09-’10;
* Develops a funding strategy to secure federal funds for state supported intercity
rail services (thru Economic Stimulus/Recovery program or annual appropriations from
Amtrak Reauthorization) to advance the CCJPA’s Capital Improvement Program; and
* Builds upon the success of previous award-winning marketing campaigns to raise the
awareness of the Capitol Corridor (CC) “brand” as a viable transport alternative along
Northern California’s congested highway corridors.

In his “overview,” Managing Director Gene Skoropowski reported: “The Capitol Corridor just seems to be staying on a positive glide path towards increasing riders, revenue and sustained on-time performance. With those results, plus the positive reputation the service has gained, more riders are being attracted, regardless of the drop in fuel prices, or the fluctuations in the economy. Crowded peak hour trains may finally have put a “cap” on peak hour travel growth”.

Highlights:

Ridership for the 1st 4 months of the FY is up 7.4%, revenue is up 11.2% over the 4 months of the prior FY.

Year to date revenue is up 14% and is stronger than passenger growth helping the financial performance. Weekends still exhibit strong revenue generation as do holidays and mid-day travel. Weekend travel is almost evenly spread on trains throughout the day with good average train loadings and higher revenue yields due to more full fares sold than on weekdays.

On-time performance has been exceptionally reliable this FY, with the 4 month average (Oct ’08-Jan’09) at 93% . January ’09 OTP was an enviable 94.5% (the best in the country). UPRR has improved it’s performance to about 98-99% for several months running and is now routinely earning their maximum incentive fee.

Amtrak has caught up on preventive maintenance, hence ‘full consists” are on all trains. The major causes of delays are now mechanical road-failures, primarily locomotives and some on the-road door operational issues along with periodic delays due to draw bridge lifts at Martinez.

Possible track configurations are being explored with UPRR for consideration to find a solution to add main line track capacity to push the easterly terminus of more frequent service to the Roseville area and some increased service to Auburn and San Jose. Also being explored is the possibility of “express” service” between Oakland and Sacramento.

The State budget adopted for FY ’09 and the annual allocation made by the BT&H will be adequate to sustain operations for the coming year. All capital projects however, are in suspension, regardless of the source of state funds. Virtually all CC projects are at this stage are “bond funded” and these projects are suspended until the state adopts a revised budget.

The Federal Stimulus Package could provide the CC with an infusion of funds to start projects that are designed and approved by UPRR, Amtrak and Division of Rail (DoR), that are “shovel ready”. These projects are primarily track, signal and capacity improvements that will benefit operational performance. However, the shortage of rolling stock still is the main constraint for future growth.

Federal funds administered by the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) would expand Amtrak’s role and provide capital funding on a matching basis with states from $30 mil in FFY ’08 to between $60 and $100 mil in FFY ’09. These capital funds require a 50% state/local matching share.

Construction Projects:

Bahia crossover in Benicia is completed. Bahia (operational name “CP Marsh”) will be turned over to operations Feb.28 ’09.

Yolo Causeway west crossovers; in design, construction funding being lined up for FY’10.

Emeryville Station track expansion and crossover relocation, permitting parallel moves into/out of the north end of the station, reducing congestion at this choke point. Design in progress, construction funds remain in question due to states budget crisis

Funding for double track and crossovers in Santa Clara (CP Coast/ Great America), Newark/Albrea and the Santa Clara Station platform will be resubmitted as part of this year’s federal matching FRA program (partner with ACE and Caltrain). “We were not successful in being selected by the FRA for funding on this project this year”.

On-Board Surveys show an overall high score acceptance by the ridership. On a scale of
1-5, Amtrak station staff received a 4.08 and on-board crews a 4.3 for December. Areas showing improvement include station and train cleanliness, availability of timetables and conductor announcements. The CC continues to finish in the top 5 in Amtrak’s national customer service indices for all Amtrak routes in FY ’09.

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