Reported by Eugene K. Skoropowski
Managing Director, Capitol Corridor Joint Powers Authority
June ridership numbers in California and across the nation continue to be disappointing.
The California economy and high unemployment rate are manifesting themselves in uncertainty and reduction in travel, particularly discretionary travel. The Capitol Corridor still handled 131, 670 passengers in June 2009, but that was down (-9.5%) from the record June 2008 number (145,482). By comparison, the busy Northeast Corridor slowed the rate of decline with June 2009 ridership down -4.9%, and year-to-date ridership down -9.2%.
The Pacific Surfliner passengers were down significantly in June 2009 (-25.5%) and also the San Joaquins (-16.0%).
Only the California Zephyr among the long distance trains showed a measurable increase in June 2009 (+33.8%), due primarily to restoration of full service and improved on-time performance. Overall, long distance trains were down in June 2009 (-3.6%), with year-to-date (after 9 months) long-distance passengers up (+2.5%).
June 2009 Capitol Corridor revenue was down -3.7% compared to June 2008, but year-to-date revenue is still up +3.3%. Capitol Corridor revenue performance for June was ‘the least worse’ (smallest decline) on the Amtrak system, with only the California Zephyr showing a revenue increase for June 2009. The San Joaquins revenue was down – 2.3% compared to June 2008, with Pacific Surfliner revenue down by -22.6% compared to June 2008. As noted previously, all three California Corridor routes are being impacted by the economy, with the almost-shutdown of state government activity having some impact on Capitol Corridor business travel.
If there is a ‘bright light’ in all of this, it is in the on-time performance of California services. On-time performance in June 2008 for the Capitol Corridor was solid 92.5%, the San Joaquins improved to 93.6% on-time, and the Pacific Surfliners delivered 85.2% on-time. Given the superior on-time performance of all three routes, it would be difficult to point to ‘lack of reliable service’ as a factor in the ridership declines.
Capitol Corridor (June 2009):
131,670 passengers -9.5% vs. June 2008
The rate of decline in June slowed a bit from May, and June 2008 was the highest June ridership in Capitol Corridor history. The Capitol Corridor route is still the third busiest route in the country, by a wide margin.
Passengers for the last 12 months: 1,670,799
YTD ridership is -1.9% below last year, after 9 months.
$1,787,037 June 2009 ticket revenue – 3.7% vs. June 2008
The farebox recovery revenue-to-cost ratio for June 2009 slipped to 42.3%, (FY to date: 46.1%). Our Kids-Ride-Free-on-weekends/Holidays promotion, and Senior Citizens mid-week 50% discount program is in full swing, and TV commercials are appearing in the Bay Area during prime viewing times.
These promotions will continue through the summer, and are designed to fill seats we are already moving. YTD revenue is still running +3.3% ahead of last year.
On-time performance for June ‘delivered to the customer’ was: 92.5%.
Union Pacific performance continues to be steady at 97% to 99% on time.
The proportion of delays attributable to Amtrak mechanical performance has continued to be a concern, and CCJPA and Amtrak Mechanical Supervision are addressing the problem. We are fortunate in that the severity of the mechanical problems has been limited, allowing most trains to operate ‘on-time’ by their destination. A greater factor in on-time service delivery is the lack of ANY ‘slow orders’ on the entire 170 mile route. Union Pacific is conducting the maintenance level to ensure a continuation of 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: still at 92.1% ) This is our best-ever 9 month year-to-date on-time performance.
These stats keep the Capitol Corridor’s on-time performance (92.1%) the best year-to-date 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%).
Pacific Surfliners (June 2009):
206,813 passengers -25.5% vs. June 2008, but still the second busiest route in the nation, by a wide margin
YTD ridership is down -9.8%, after 9 months
$ 3,912,758 June 2009 ticket revenue: – 2.6% vs. June 2008 (FFY year-to-date: -6.6%)
On-time performance for June 2009: 85.2% (FFY to date: 83.6%)
San Joaquins (June 2009):
81,026 passengers -16.0% vs. June 2008 YTD ridership is up +1.4%, after 9 months
$2,408,405 June 2009 ticket revenue: – 12.3% vs. June 2008 (FFY year-to-date: – 2.3%)
On-time performance for June 2009: 93.6% (FFY to date: 89.7%)
Total California 3 Intercity Corridors Ridership for June 2009:
Total Northeast Corridor ‘Spine’ ridership for June 2009:
For June 2009, the 3 California Corridors are 48.6% of Northeast Corridor ‘Spine’ Boston-Washington ridership
Total Northeast Corridor ridership for June 2009 with branches to Springfield, MA; Albany, NY and Harrisburg, PA: 1,070,618
For June 2009, the 3 California Corridors are 39.2% of the total Northeast Corridor
ridership. Overall NEC Spine ridership declined by -4.9%, and for the second month since its rebuilding, the Keystone service (Philadelphia-Harrisburg) declined by -1.8%.
YTD 3 California Corridors ridership is 3,758,757
YTD NEC Spine ridership is 7,457,045
YTD NEC Spine + branches ridership is 9,288,155