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December 2009

Commentary

California Corridors November stats

From: DAVID B. KUTROSKY, Managing Director, Capitol Corridor Joint Powers Authority

The Capitol Corridor November 2009 results are a mixed bag with a continued ridership decline compared to November 2008, yet revenue was above November 2008 with a strong on-time performance (OTP) result as well. It appears as the gap in monthly ridership declines is starting to shrink and the strong revenue confirms that the Capitol Corridor enjoyed a good Thanksgiving travel period (Tuesday through Sunday), with initial results reporting ridership slightly below (-0.7%) vs. Thanksgiving 2008. Yet for the first time in 2009, monthly ridership was below the corresponding 2007 month. As such, w e will be watching the monthly performance and service results closely over the next three months to see if we are starting to pull out of the decline that is currently being experienced nationwide by the transportation and travel industries.

Obviously, the telling factors in the ridership results are (1) the record high California unemployment rate (about 11% – 15%) and (2) the impact of “Friday Furloughs”, in which state government offices are closed three (3) Fridays per month. A quick calculation indicates that these Friday Furloughs are negatively impacting Capitol Corridor ridership by 3% – 5%. It is not just the state employees that are not traveling on the Capitol Corridor trains to/from Sacramento but it is also all the other people that either support or do business with the state that are not using the trains on these Fridays.

Capitol Corridor (November 2009):

  • Ridership: 129,294 riders; -7.8% vs. Nov 2008; -8.8% for cumulative 12 month period but +7% annual growth compared to 2 years ago;
  • Revenue: -7.7% vs. FY10 Business Plan, yet 3.6% above Nov. 2008; YTD -2.8% vs. FY09
  • On-Time Performance: Continued superior results primarily due to lack of slow orders, excellent dispatching; Nov 2009 = 92.2%; YTD = 92.8%;
  • System Operating Ratio: 45.5% YTD vs. 48.8% in FY09; expenses are being maintained, increased ridership will add revenue and increase the ratio
  • – The Capitol Corridor route is still the third busiest route in the country, by a wide margin with ridership over the last 12 months: 1.57 million
    __________________________________________________
    Pacific Surfliners (November 2009):

  • Ridership: 206,032 passengers -9.7% vs. November 2008, but still the second busiest route in the nation, by a wide margin.
  • Ticket Revenue only: $4,115,711; -0.8% vs. November 2008
  • – On-time performance for November 2009: 78.5% (YTD FY 2010 on-time performance: 78.9%)
  • __________________________________________________
    San Joaquins (November 2009):

  • Ridership: 84,301 passengers +3.4% vs. November 2008 (one of the few routes in the Amtrak system to have a positive results vs. 2008)
  • Ticket Revenue only: $2,771,169 : +12.0% vs. November 2008 (one of the few routes in the Amtrak system to have a positive results vs. 2008)
  • On-time performance for September 2009: 89.2% (YTD FY 2010 on-time performance: 91.3%)
  • __________________________________________________________

    Issues

    Sunset Limited: BULLETIN

    Texas Eagle at Dallas 12-12-09 002NOTE: Mr. Manning has two confirmations of his information. For a longer report on this issue see: News from URPA This Week at Amtrak; 2009-12-10, link in the right column of this post. Russ Jackson Photo: The daily Texas Eagle arrives at Dallas Union Station December 12. All of us look forward to the day this train finally goes to Los Angeles DAILY!
    I have just been informed that the Amtrak Board of Directors has just authorized negotiations with the Union Pacific Railroad for a daily Sunset Limited train. More to follow.
    Robert Manning, President, Southwest Rail Passenger Association; Director, Rail Passenger Association of California

    Events

    RailPAC-NARP LAUS Meeting notice

    At Los Angeles Union Station this Saturday!
    Informal get together for all RailPAC and NARP members. Meet opposite Union Bagel.
    Come join us for rail talk and holiday good fellowship!
    Paul Dyson

    Commentary

    MORE UNACCEPTABLE SERVICE FAILURES ON PACIFIC SURFLINER 12/05/09: Letter to Amtrak

    RAIL PASSENGER ASSOCIATION OF CALIFORNIA
    1017 L Street PMB 217, Sacramento, CA 95814
    www.railpac.org
    5th December, 2009
    Mr. Joseph H. Boardman
    President and Chief Executive Officer
    NATIONAL RAILROAD PASSENGER CORPORATION
    60 Massachusetts Avenue NE
    Washington DC 20002
    Dear Mr. Boardman:
    Once again I must write to you about the catastrophic service failures on the Pacific Surfliner service.

    As I write hundreds of passengers are stranded by the locomotive failure of train 769 at San Diego. As a result I have been told that 796 from Goleta will be covered by buses this evening even though it would be possible to deadhead a crew to cover the service.

    This is a repeat of the disaster of the day before Thanksgiving when you should have had every available manager and every piece of rolling stock in service. Instead passengers waited for hours for trains that were as much as 6 hours late. There is no excuse for the lack of action by Amtrak. We demand that you:

    · Make arrangements with the commuter operators Metrolink and Coaster to make standby trains available to you, with extra crews available to operate them.

    · Hire in some of the hundreds of idle freight locomotives and put a freight and a passenger locomotive on every train until you have put your own equipment in a state of good repair.

    · Negotiate a power pooling arrangement with the commuter operators. Many of their locomotives operate only about 30 hours per week.

    We are tired of excuses and inaction. We will be asking for a congressional hearing and state hearings to find out why California is paying so much to Amtrak for corridor service and getting so little in return.

    We look forward to your early response.

    Yours faithfully,
    ORIGINAL SIGNED
    Paul J. Dyson
    President
    pdyson@railpac.org
    cc RailPAC Board , LOSSAN Board, Bill Bronte, Division of Rail

    Issues

    AMTRAK SERVICE FAILURE – NOVEMBER 25, 2009 A letter to LOSSAN

    RAIL PASSENGER ASSOCIATION OF CALIFORNIA
    1017 L Street PMB 217
    Sacramento, CA 958114-3805
    www.railpac.org
    1st December, 2009
    Hon. Art Brown,
    Chairman, LOSSAN Corridor JPB
    And members of the Board
    Dear Chairman Brown:
    Once again the travel plans of hundreds, possibly thousands of Amtrak passengers were severely disrupted by a locomotive failure on the LOSSAN corridor, this time on the busiest travel day of the year.

    While locomotive failures will happen from time to time they are usually the result of inadequate maintenance or preventive maintenance practices, and are thus avoidable. This should be a matter of great concern to the LOSSAN Board. As RailPAC has pointed out on the past, we have to grow the passenger business in this corridor and this will not happen without repeat business. Unfortunately, many of last Wednesday’s travelers will not try Amtrak a second time.

    It’s high time for the LOSSAN Board and the California Division of Rail to start to demand some real accountability from Amtrak. As an all volunteer group we don’t have the resources to analyze the reasons for these recurrent service failures but we do see the revenue and punctuality statistics, and the results are simply unacceptable. The schedules are padded, freight traffic is down, but the level of service does not improve. The California taxpayer pays a considerable sum of money to Amtrak for provision of the state supported trains. In addition we pay federal tax dollars to Amtrak who then spend 95% of their capital budget on the northeast corridor. Is this acceptable?

    As you review the MOU and the slow move towards interagency cooperation, we recommend you urgently consider adding an item to that agenda. We, the taxpayers, have funded three fleets of passenger locomotives in this corridor, Amtrak, Metrolink and Coaster. The managements of these bodies can supply you with the statistics of the hours of service of these locomotives but common sense suggests that the Amtrak power units work many more hours per week than the “commuter” operators’ equipment. They are thus more likely to have in service failures and have fewer hours available for maintenance. What we need is a power pool to equalize the in service hours and provide more time for preventive maintenance and thus reduce the likelihood of in service failures. This locomotive pool could be sub-contracted to a private operator and each agency could pay by the hour for locomotives used. It is especially galling to see Metrolink equipment filling sidings and depots for many hours per day while Amtrak struggles to maintain a service. It’s time to bring down these walls between these taxpayer funded agencies.
    Yours faithfully,
    SIGNED
    Paul J. Dyson
    President
    pdyson@railpac.org