Monthly Archives

November 2009

Events

RailPAC-NARP Meeting scheduled for LAS VEGAS!

ATTENTION SOUTHERN NEVADA RAILPAC AND NARP MEMBERS!

You are invited to our first ever members meeting AND DINNER to be held in Las Vegas. The meeting will be held Tuesday December 8th, 2009 at 6.30 pm.

Thanks to the kind sponsorship of the Nevada Broadcasters Association the meeting will be held at their offices located at: 1050 East Flamingo Road, Suite 102, Las Vegas NV. This is the three story building one block west of Maryland Parkway, behind “Canes”.

The NBA is providing dinner BUT you must reserve a place by RSVP to this notice.: Please reply to Paul Dyson, NARP Division Leader and RailPAC President: 818 845 9599 OR pdyson@railpac.org OR narpsw@yahoo.com OR by mail to 623 S Orchard Drive Burbank, CA 91506-2904, No later than NOVEMBER 30th.

Tickets: MINIMUM DONATION $20 per person including dinner. You can pay by Paypal at www.railpac.org, or send me a check made out to RailPAC. Proceeds will be split between NARP and RailPAC.

Click the logo above for your payment of $ 20.00 for: Las Vegas Meeting Registration

Speakers and program to be announced. Check this space for details!

Come and join us and bring your ideas about the future of rail for Southern Nevada and the USA.

Paul Dyson
Bob Fisher, NARP Council
RailPAC and NARP 702 794 4994

Reports

San Joaquin Valley Rail Committee Meeting Report; a Mix of Good News and Bad News

Reported by Mike Barnbaum, RailPAC Sacramento Associate Director
Thursday 29 October 2009 in Merced/Atwater, California.
The San Joaquin Valley Rail Committee met in Merced at the Castle Conference Center, which is actually in the community of Atwater, just on the outskirts of Merced.

The welcome to Merced County was done by Mark Hendrickson. Mark informed everybody in the room of how Castle Air Force Base was decommissioned within the last ten years from Federal to County Control. The story that Mark told about Castle is similiar to the story of what occurred at McClellan in Sacramento County and how McClellan transfered from being called McClellan Air Force Base to now being called McClellan Business Park.

Long Distance Train Connections were on the agenda as a continued item from the August meeting. Both Arthur Lloyd, San Joaquin Valley Rail Committee Facilitator, and this writer, At-Large Member of the Mobility Advisory Committee of the Sacramento Regional Transit District made the presentation of this topic. The one change that did occur since the August Meeting in Turlock was that the California Zephyr now leaves for Chicago from Sacramento at 11:49 A.M. rather than 11:09 A.M. The additional forty minutes allows riders of San Joaquin Train Number 711 to connect in Stockton to either MotorCoach 3711 and/or 3811 to Sacramento for the connection to Train Number 6. In the opposite direction http://www.amtrak.com/ and Amtrak Reservation agents have programmed in the computer system that riders on the Westbound California Zephyr traveling into Sacramento transfer to the San Joaquin Train Number 704 leaving Sacramento at 4:55 P.M.

In the discussion of the long distance train connections from San Joaquin Trains, there was mention that no changes have been made to the Coast Starlight or the Sunset Limited. It was mentioned and referenced at the Rail Passenger Association of California Meeting held in San Carlos back on Saturday 24 October 2009, that Amtrak’s Chief of Product Management did mention to a Rail Passenger Association of California member that matters pertaining to the Sunset Limited will likely be on the Amtrak Board of Directors Agenda Meeting in January. As far as whether that meeting will be occurring before or after the January San Joaquin Valley Rail Committee Meeting, is not known. Stay tuned for more on this when the January San Joaquin Valley Rail Committee Meeting is written on January 17th.

Next up after Log Distance Train Connections was Brian Schmidt, making a presentation on the Central Valley Rail Commuter Rail Policy. The presentation was focusing on commuter rail with a high speed rail component between Merced and the Bay Area as well as Merced to Sacramento. There will be a time frame of about three years for a project EIR and Selected alignment. Brian mentioned about a technical group that is studying the Sacramento to Merced option and their group’s next meeting on November 13th in Stockton. San Joaquin Valley Committee Member Darryl Clare of Sacramento County is a Member of the Sacramento to Merced group as well. Folks interested in this study and its impacts to rail service in Sacramento County can contact Brian Schmidt directly either at brian@acerail.com or at (209) 944-6241.

Following Brain Schmidt was Tony Gale, a citizen of the United Kingdom, on the Amtrak GreenRide Connection. Tony provided the group with a nineteen page PowerPoint Presentation. The purpose of his presentation, according to one Powerpoint slide was to: Improve connectivity between stations and the riders’ ultimate trip start and end points; Improve convenience and the rider and pickup party experience (taxi, shuttle, family, work colleagues, etc.) provide more personally relevant transportation choices. There were three websites highlighted by Tony Gale in his presentation:

http://www.ene.com/
http://www.greenride.com/ and
http://www.flex-t.com/
Skipping down his presentation, now that this report has three links to what Tony was talking about in further detail, Tony provided the summary on one PowerPoint Screen as follows:

Increases AMTRAK and Non-Single Occupant Ridership
– Improves efficiency and integration
– Increases convenience
– Provides more travel options and lowers costs
– Personalizes the experience
– Maximizes green benefits

Josh Johnstone provided the Fall Marketing Campaign presentation. Josh touched upon radio, television, as well as other creative marketing opportunities that will occur between Early October and Late December. One promotion was the issuance of 100,000 Companion Fare Coupons, and a Papa John’s Pizza Promotion that was good for all travelers to gain 25% off of their travel on Pacific Surfliner and San Joaquin Trains Only. Josh mentioned that Capitol Corridor travel was not part of the Papa John’s Promotion. He could not elaborate as to the reasoning behind the Capitol Corridor Joint Powers Authority not wanting to participate in this promotion. Many of the parts of the marketing campaign will also be in Spanish to target the growing Central Valley Hispanic Population.

There was mention by Sacramento County’s Darryl Clare that, “Elected Officials would lose their “elected” status if they use the Companion Fare Coupon, according to state law.”

Greg Santos, Amtrak Road Foreman, filling in for Captain Jim Martino, giving the police report. On the San Joaquin there was on trespasser strike on August 13th on Train Number 718 in the Bakersfield Area. It was also mentioned that one incident occurred in the Emeryville area involving a Capitol Corridor Train on October 25th.

Vern Moss, the Elected Member of the San Joaquin Valley Rail Committee from Madera County, mentioned that the Funds have been programmed for relocation of the Madera Station. He would hope that at some time down the calendar and at a time appropriate, the committee would hold one of its meetings in Madera.

Lee Goldenberg discussed Amtrak Bus Operations, and mentioned that for the most part, bus operations are very healthy. One elimination he noted occurred with operations in Sacramento. All service back on Monday 26 October 2009 North of Redding was cancelled due to low ridership. All other bus routes and stops throughout the state ramain as is. There are nine bus operators for AmtrakCalifornia for the CalTrans Division of Rail Program.

William D. Bronte, Chief of the CalTrans Division of Rail mentioned that California has received a $4 Million increase in operating funds this year, and that the California Transit Association Lawsuit will eventually get payback to transit agencies and rail, but how it will occur and when is not known at this time. The California Budget is now operating with a $3.6 Billion Deficit and tax receipts this quarter are $1.1 Billion shy of estimates this quarter alone. California is already, according to Bill Bronte, $8 Billion in the hole this year. The ARRA, or American Recovery Reinvestment Act Track 1 and Track Two Projects will have their results delivered to the states sometime in the Spring. The results will likely be known at the April Meeting of the San Joaquin Valley Rail Committee.

The Amtrak and Federal Budget Report was delivered by Jonathan Hutchison. Amtrak asked for a nationwide chunk of $1.5 Billion, and of that $144 for ADA Compliance. Amtrak is now operating its services with a continuing resolution, something that occurs most year-in and year-out. The Wicker Amendment was brought up, that would allow guns to be brought on board trains in a persons checked baggage. It was mentioned that Amtrak will not have all of its equipment retrofitted by April 2010 because it is cost prohibitive. At this time Amtrak is using $1.3 Million in Stimulus Dollars to retrofit and restore equipment. The retrofitting and restoration of equipment might be used to bring back some long distance routes that were previously eliminated, and make other existing routes have the ability to hold longer consists.

The next meeting of the San Joaquin Valley Rail Committee will be held on Thursday 14 January 2010 in Merced, California.

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%).
__________________________________________________

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%)
__________________________________________________

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%)

__________________________________________________________

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