Commentary

CAPITOL CORRIDOR JPB Meeting Report; Gene Skoropowski to retire in November

Skoropowski photoReported by Mike Barnbaum, RailPAC Associate Director
Wednesday, 16 September 2009, in Suisun City.
The CCJPA FY 10 Budget was passed by all members present as was the CCJPA/Amtrak FY 10 Fixed Price Operating Agreement.

In Legislative Matters, this writer approached RailPAC VP North, Arthur Lloyd, over concern of a bill brewing in Sacramento by State Senator Roy Ashburn. The bill in question – (SB 526) – according to the board packet, “would require Caltrans enter into negotiations with the relevant operating and freight and passenger railroads to prepare a service plan and an operating agreement for the extension of at least one San Joaquin intercity passenger train to serve San Francisco via the Altamont Pass (ACE) rail corridor. The bill would (further) require the department to report to the Legislature by (Wednesday) 31 March 2010 on the status of the negotiations.” The Board packet further discussed the CCJPA Staff Position as well as how San Joaquin service would “affect Capitol Corridor Trains to/from San Jose.” Status: On May 28, held in Senate Appropriations Committee and placed in suspense file.

The other CCJPB action item that had critical information was the overview of FRA AARA HSIPR Capital Grants Applications – Tracks 1 & 2. There was some explanation by staff and in the board packet on what the title of this item had in it. Here is a breakdown so readers know what we are all talking about.

1. FRA = Federal Railroad Administration
2. AARA = American Recovery Reinvestment Act
3. HSIPR = High Speed Intercity Passenger Rail
4. Track 1 (ready to-go projects)
5. Track 2 (corridor program)

There are six projects in the Track 1 section of CCJPA Submittals and three projects in the track two section of CCJPA Submittals. The projects in Track 1 that would likely bring improved passenger rail service are: 1) The Yolo West Crossover, 2) Sacramento Station Platform Relocation, and 3) San Jose Diridon Station Improvements. In the track two CCJPA Submittals, the Oakland to San Jose Corridor Program (Round 2 submittal) was the only project that would likely improve passenger rail service. CCJPA notes in this project that in the corridor, the primary function would be to “add 2nd mainline tracks in San Leandro/Hayward/Union City, Fremont/Newark, and San Jose/Santa Clara.

The Marketing Team consisting of Priscilla Kalugdan, Christie Ruiz, and Lindsey Ettlin, gave a marketing presentation on their marketing partners as well as the new Seniors Save 50% campaign. The Capitol Corridor Website at http://www.capitolcorridor.org/ was also brought up and has been re-branded, much like http://www.railpac.org/ has.

Under Public Comment, this writer thanked CCJPA for their cooperative efforts in Sacramento on Labor Day 2009 for holding Capitol Corridor Train 743 so that passengers from as far east as Chicago on Train 5 bound for destination between Oakland and San Jose were able to seamlessly connect between the two trains. (See more about this item in “Tracking Rail News” in this issue.)

After the public comment period was over, the saddest news of the day came when Capitol Corridor Managing Director, Gene Skoropowski, announced his retirement to the CCJPA Board. While no successor has been named, certainly in the opinion of this writer CCJPA Deputy Managing Director David Kutrosky appears more than ready to be Managing Director on Tuesday 1 December 2009, but the Board will have to make its decision on this soon. Until then, Gene will continue his duties. There will be two key opportunities to see current CCJPA Managing Director, Gene Skoropowski before he moves to Florida for his retirement:

1. RailPAC Fall Meeting: Saturday 24 October 2009 in San Carlos. (See that Meeting Notice here on www.railpac.org)
2. CCJPA Board Meeting: Wednesday 18 November 2009 at Suisun City Hall, 10:00 A.M.

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