Commentary

CA Corridors Stats for September

Reported by Eugene K. Skoropowski, Managing Director, Capitol Corridor Joint Powers Authority
September ridership numbers on the Capitol Corridor, in California and across the nation continue to be less than 2008, but still substantially higher than 2007. This is an indication that many of the 2008 ridership surges were refugees from high gas prices, and that most of them returned to driving when gas prices declined. The good news in this story is that not only did we retain our base riders, with some modest growth, but also kept some of the gas-price refugees. Hence the FY 2009 ridership is well above 2007 levels, by a substantial margin of +10.4%.

The record high California unemployment rate (about 11%) neither seems to be significantly impacting Capitol Corridor ridership, nor ridership on the San Joaquins. The Capitol Corridor still handled 126,692 passengers in September 2009, but that was down -12.5% from the record September 2008 number of 144,797. By comparison, the busy Northeast Corridor slowed the rate of decline with September 2009 with ridership down -7.6%, and year-to-date ridership down -8.7%.

The Pacific Surfliner passengers were down somewhat in September 2009 -4.1%
and also the San Joaquins -7.8%.

The long distance trains showed a comparable decline in September 2009 with significant swings in gains and losses among 8 of the routes. Overall, long distance train ridership was down in September 2009 -4.3%, with the total FY 2009 showing long-distance passengers up slightly at +0.7% above
FY 2008.

September 2009 Capitol Corridor revenue was down -9.6% compared to September 2008, but fiscal year FY 2009 revenue was almost even with last year and ended up only -0.7% below fiscal 2008. San Joaquins revenue was down -13.5% compared to September 2008, with Pacific Surfliner revenue down by only -0.2% compared to September 2008. As noted
previously, all three California Corridor routes are being somewhat impacted by the economy, with the Pacific Surfliner service still getting hit the hardest, and for the longest duration.

The Capitol Corridor on-time performance has been consistently good throughout the entire year. On-time performance in September 2008 for the Capitol Corridor was solid 93.6%. The San Joaquins slipped a bit to 85.6% on-time, and the Pacific Surfliners delivered trains 84.2% on-time in September 2009.

Capitol Corridor (September 2009):

126,692 passengers -12.5% vs. September 2008
The Capitol Corridor route is still the third busiest route in the country, by a wide margin.
Passengers for the last 12 months: 1,599,625
FY 2009 ridership was down -5.5%
(1,599,625 in FY 2009 vs. 1,693,580 in FY 2008)

$1,765,886 September 2009 ticket revenue -9.6% vs. September 2008 (FY 2009 revenue was down only -0.7% compared to FY 2008)

On-time performance for September 2009: 93.6% (overall FY 2009 on-time performance was : 92.3%)

The farebox recovery revenue-to-cost ratio for September 2009 slipped to 41.8%, lowest month in the year. (for FY 2009 : it was 46.1%, a bit shy of our 50% goal). Promotional fares may have eroded some of the revenue, but overall revenue held up well throughout the year. TV commercials and Capitol Corridor sponsorships of peak-period radio reports of road conditions are continuing to help ridership and sustain revenue.

On-time performance for September ‘delivered to the customer’ was: 93.6%. Union Pacific’s performance continues to be steady at 98% to 99% on time. The proportion of delays attributable to Amtrak mechanical performance is a continuing concern, and CCJPA and Amtrak Mechanical Supervision are still 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, however October 2009 is showing significant en route mechanical delay problems for the first time in several years.

The greatest positive factor in successful on-time service delivery is the lack on 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.

This is our best-ever fiscal year for on-time performance, and these stats keep the Capitol Corridor’s on-time performance (92.3%) as the best in the country, topped only by the once-a-day Pennsylvanian (Philadelphia-Pittsburgh at 96.0%) and still well above the premier Acela Express service on the Northeast Corridor (84.4%).
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Pacific Surfliners (September 2009):

206,675 passengers -4.1% vs. September 2008, but still the second busiest route in the nation, by a wide margin.
FY 2009 ridership was down -10.6%
(2,592,996 in FY 2009 vs. 2,898,859 in FY 2008)

$ 3,675,639 September 2009 ticket revenue: -0.2% vs. September 2008 (FY 2009 revenue was down -8.7% compared to FY 2008)

On-time performance for September 2009: 84.2%
(overall FY 2009 on-time performance was: 83.2%)
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San Joaquins (September 2009):

69,959 passengers -7.8% vs. September 2008
FY 2009 ridership was down -2.2%
(929,172 in FY 2009 vs. 949,611 in FY 2008)

$2,077,846 September 2009 ticket revenue: -13.5% vs. September 2008 (FY 2009 revenue was down: -6.8% compared to FY 2008)

On-time performance for September 2009: 85.6%
(overall FY 2009 on-time performance was 89.6%)

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Total California 3 Intercity Corridors Ridership for September 2009: 403,326
Total Northeast Corridor ‘Spine’ ridership for September 2009: 817,906
For September 2009, the 3 California Corridors are 49.3% of Northeast Corridor ‘Spine’ Boston-Washington ridership

Total Northeast Corridor ridership for September 2009 with branches to Springfield, MA; Albany, NY and Harrisburg, PA: 1,018,624

For September 2009, the 3 California Corridors are 39.6% of the total Northeast Corridor ridership.

Overall NEC Spine ridership declined by -7.6% in September 2009, and for the fifth month since its rebuilding, the Keystone service (Philadelphia-Harrisburg) declined by -3.5%.

Total FY 2009 California Corridors ridership is 5,121,793
Total FY 2009 NEC Spine ridership is 9,946,027
Total FY 2009 NEC Spine + branches ridership is 12,413,076

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