CA Corridors May, 2009 statistics   June 9th, 2009

Reported by
Eugene K. Skoropowski

Managing Director
Capitol Corridor Joint Powers Authority
May ridership numbers on the Capitol Corridor, San Joaquins and Pacific Surfliners all were disappointing.

We were awaiting the May numbers to see if there would be an upswing in riders and revenue, but the opposite seems to be emerging. This is likely due to the California economy and high unemployment rate. The Capitol Corridor still handled 136,716 passengers in May 2009, but down considerably (-13.1%) from the record May 2008 numbers (157,351) which was our second highest month ever. By comparison, the busy Northeast Corridor continues to get hammered the worst with May 2009 ridership down -11.9%, and year-to-date ridership down -11.6%.

Even the long distance trains across the country showed a significant decline in ridership during May (-9.4%), although year-to-date long-distance passengers are up (+3.5%).

May 2009 Capitol Corridor revenue was down -4.7% compared to May 2008, but year-to-date revenue is up +4.2%. The San Joaquins ridership declined -7.6%, with revenue down -17.5% compared to May 2008. The Pacific Surfliner service also resumed its decline with ridership down -9.6% in May 2009 vs. May 2008, and revenue declined -5.7% compared to May 2008. All three California Corridor routes are being impacted by the economy.

Capitol Corridor on-time performance for May sustained an outstanding 93.4%, keeping this the best on-time route in the country, save for the once-a-day Pennsylvanian between Philadelphia and Pittsburgh (100%). The San Joaquins May 2009 reliability was a respectable 90.3% on-time, and the Pacific Surfliners improved significantly to 87.9% on-time in May. Given the superior on-time performance of all three routes, it would be difficultto point to ‘lack of reliable service’ as a factor in the ridership declines. As gas prices creep up, and summer travel approaches, the results during the next four months will determine where we end up for the fiscal year.

Overall, especially with the economy, the California Corridor services are beginning to stagnate, but the stagnation is not nearly as severe as on the Northeast Corridor.

Capitol Corridor (May 2009):

136,716 passengers -13.1% vs. May 2008
The rate of decline in May is significant since May 2008 was our 2nd highest month in history. The Capitol Corridor route is still the third busiest route in the country, by a wide margin.
Passengers for the last 12 months: 1,684,611
YTD ridership is -0.8% below last year, after 8 months.

$1,947,792 May 2009 ticket revenue – .7% vs. May 2008

The farebox recovery (revenue-to-cost ratio) for April is 46.1%, (FY to date: 45.4%, still a bit lower than the 50% target, but steady and NOT declining). We are gearing up for a full-court press for our Kids-Ride-Free-on-Weekends/Holidays promotion, and Senior Citizens mid-week 50% discount program to try to help improve our ridership and farebox recovery rate. These promotions will continue through the summer. YTD revenue is running +4.2% ahead of last year.

On-time performance for May ‘delivered to the customer’ was: 93.4%.
Union Pacific performance has been steady at 97% to 99% on time. The proportion of delays attributable to Amtrak mechanical performance has begun to creep up, and we are working with Amtrak to address these
concerns. While there have been some issues on mechanical, the severity has been limited, allowing most trains to operate ‘on-time’ by their destination. The lack of ANY ‘slow orders’ on the entire 170 mile route has contributed to this reliability record. Our funding of the dedicated Union Pacific night-maintenance-of-way gang is paying off with superior on-time reliability. (FFY to date on-time: 92.1% on time) This is our best-ever 8 month year-to-date on-time performance.

These stats keep the Capitol Corridor’s on-time performance (92.1%) 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 (83.4%).

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Pacific Surfliners (May 2009):

237,018 passengers -9.6% vs. May 2008, but still the second busiest route in the nation, by a wide margin
YTD ridership is down -7.3%, after 8 months
$4,097,418 May 2009 revenue: -5.7% vs. May 2008 (FFY year-to-date: -3.9%)
On-time performance for May 2009: 87.9% (FFY to date: 83.4%)

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San Joaquins (May 2009):

84,906 passengers -7.6% vs. May 2008
YTD ridership is up +4.3%, after 8 months

$2,217,537 May 2009 revenue: -17.5% vs. May 2008 (FFY year-to-date: -0.8%)
On-time performance for May 2009: 90.3% (FFY to date: 89.2%)

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Total California 3 Intercity Corridors Ridership for May 2009: 458,640
Total Northeast Corridor ‘Spine’ ridership for May 2009: 855,346
For May 2009, the 3 California Corridors are 53.6% of Northeast Corridor ‘Spine’
Boston-Washington ridership

Total Northeast Corridor ridership for May 2009 with branches to Springfield, MA; Albany, NY and Harrisburg, PA: 1,060,748
For May 2009, the 3 California Corridors are 43.2% of the total Northeast Corridor
ridership. Overall NEC Spine ridership declined by -11.9%, and for the first month since its rebuilding, the Keystone service Philadelphia-Harrisburg) declined by -2.3%.

YTD 3 California Corridors ridership is 3,339,248
YTD NEC Spine ridership is 6,593,941
YTD NEC Spine + branches ridership is 8,217,537

This entry was posted on Tuesday, June 9th, 2009 at 12:34 PM and is filed under Commentary.