CA Corridor stats for February 2009   March 19th, 2009

Provided by Eugene K. Skoropowski,
Managing Director, Capitol Corridor Joint Powers Authority

The economic slowdown, plus one less day in February 2009 than in February 2008 (a leap year), appears to have impacted the most ‘business oriented’ corridors, the Capitol Corridor and the Pacific Surfliners.

The more discretionary market on the San Joaquins, on the other hand, appears to be doing well in the down business market. The Pacific Surfliners are still showing the largest percentage losses. A final determination on the Capitol Corridor trends will likely have to wait until we get the April results, as in addition to the leap-year differential in the number of days in February, train service was reduced, and a bus-bridge was implemented between Suisun-Fairfield and Sacramento, 7 days a week for 8 hours a day. This discouraged some ridership. There were also some unanticipated delays during the major tie renewal-track upgrade project that started February 16 and was completed on schedule on March 15. So the last two weeks of February and the first two weeks of March will also ‘skew the numbers’ for those two months. In the fiscal year-to-date (5 months from October 08 thru February 09) the Capitol Corridor is still the only California service on-or-ahead-of-budget, but if trends during February continue, this too could change. The coming months will determine if what we are seeing is an overall slowdown, or if the Spring and Summer number will pick up, as they usually do.

Capitol Corridor ridership was down -6.7% compared to February 2008, to 115,721 for the month of February, but revenue was down only -2.0%. With the differential in the number of days in February (one less day this year) plus the trackwork schedule, bus-bridge service and reduced service frequency, the actual net is a smaller decline, but still clearly shows a slowdown from past growth rates. The San Joaquins saw ridership grow only +0.7%%, but this is actually higher when the differential in the number of days in February is considered. San Joaquin revenue grew a healthy +6.2% above February 2008, even with fewer days in February 2009. The Pacific Surfliner service seems to be the route ‘taking it on the chin’, with a decline of -16.8% in riders and -11.1% in revenue compared to February 2008. Again, both numbers need to be viewed with the understanding in the difference in the number of days in February 2008 vs. February 2009.

Capitol Corridor on-time performance for February was 85.3%, but up to February 15 (the day before the track work started) it was 97%. The San Joaquins were at 89.6% on-time (up by 4 percentage points) and the Pacific Surfliners were 81.5% on-time (down about 4 percentage points).

Capitol Corridor (February 2009):

115,721 passengers -6.7% vs. February 2008
This is the first negative ridership number in 30 months on the Capitol Corridor, but the route is still the third busiest route in the country, by a wide margin.
Passengers for the last 12 months: 1,723,422, but still pushing towards that 1.8 million mark.

$1,605,831 February 2009 ticket revenue -2.0% vs. February 2008
The farebox recovery (revenue-to-cost ratio) for January is 39.3%, reflecting the increased Amtrak cost base due to labor contracts and fuel adjustments (FY to date: 45%, still a bit lower than the 50% target). We are hoping that our upcoming Kids-Ride-Free-on-Weekends/Holidays will help improve our farebox recovery rate. This promotion will continue through the summer.

On-time performance for February ‘delivered to the customer’ was: 85.3%
.. Union Pacific performance also slipped a bit to about 92%. Amtrak has been improving its mechanical performance with fewer road delays.. (FFY to date: 91.7%) Even with the trackwork delays, this is our best 5 month year-to-date on-time performance.

These first 5 month stats, even with the trackwork delays, keep the Capitol Corridor on-time performance (91.7%) the best in the country, topped only by the once-a-day Pennsylvanian (Philadelphia-Pittsburgh) and still well above the premier Acela Express service on the Northeast Corridor (85.1%).

__________________________________________________

Pacific Surfliners (February 2009):

169,971 passengers -16.8% vs. February, 2008, but still the second busiest route in the nation, by a wide margin

$2,929,278 February 2009 revenue: -11.1% vs. February 2008

On-time performance for February 2009: 81.5% (FFY to date: 81.7%)

__________________________________________________

San Joaquins (February 2009):

62,960 passengers +0.7% vs. February 2008

$1,877,176 February 2009 revenue: +6.2% vs. February 2008

On-time performance for February: 89.6% (FFY to date: 87.7%)

__________________________________________________________

Total California 3 Intercity Corridors Ridership for February 2009: 348,652
Total Northeast Corridor ‘Spine’ ridership for February 2009: 701,387
For February 2009, the 3 California Corridors are 50% of Northeast Corridor ‘Spine’
Boston-Washington ridership

Total Northeast Corridor ridership for February 2009 with branches to Springfield, MA; Albany, NY and Harrisburg, PA: 880,588
For February 2009, the 3 California Corridors are 40% of the total Northeast Corridor ridership. Overall NEC Spine ridership declined by -14.9%, but the Keystone service (Philadelphia-Harrisburg) grew by +3.0%.

YTD 3 California corridors ridership is 2,043,550
YTD NEC Spine ridership is 4,060,131
YTD NEC Spine + branches ridership is 5,537,812

This entry was posted on Thursday, March 19th, 2009 at 5:42 PM and is filed under Commentary.