Monthly Archives

May 2010

George Gaekle at the RailPAC Annual Meeting in Oakland in April, 2003, seated next to our then youngest member, Matt Melzer.  (Russ Jackson photo)
Commentary

Remembering George Gaekle

By Russ Jackson, with contributions by Art Lloyd, Bruce Jenkins and several of his close friends

George Gaekle at the RailPAC Annual Meeting in Oakland in April 2003, seated next to our then youngest member, Matt Melzer (Russ Jackson photo)

George Gaekle, 88, passed away May 24, 2010.  He was a RailPAC Director and associate director, NARP Director, and a long time advocate of improving the rail passenger opportunities particularly in the San Joaquin Valley.  One of the founding members of the San Joaquin Valley Rail Committee, Mr. Gaekle represented Stanislaus County continuously until he stepped down from the Committee at its most recent meeting, where he spoke in favor of the Bakersfield to Los Angeles route across the Tehachapis which he had been advocating for many years.   He was a retired City Administrator for Modesto, where he lived, and various other cities in the San Joaquin Valley.   This writer will miss George’s flair for speaking his mind and for our many conversations on board trains and at meetings.

Here are some of the tributes we received which tell you about George Gaekle:

From SJVRC Chairman John Pedroza:  “The news of George Gaekle’s passing is very sad.  George has been committed for years to improving passenger rail and was one of the San Joaquin Valley Rail Committee’s founding members.  He was diligent in attending Committee meetings throughout Central California and was also quite active with other rail associations.  His dedication to passenger rail will be missed.”

From RailPAC President, Paul Dyson:  “When I think of the tremendous physical effort it took George to travel to meetings over the past few years, I can only say that he was a true activist. Somehow, helped by his daughter, he made it to our January Sacramento meeting and down to L.A. for April 17.  He was an ideas man too and clearly understood the issues.  A true friend of passenger rail.”

From RailPAC-NARP’s Matt Melzer:  “He certainly never stopped traveling.  As recently as a year and a half ago, I saw him and one of his daughters on the Coast Starlight in Oregon.  George took an early interest in encouraging my involvement as a rail advocate.  Soon after my first RailPAC and NARP meetings circa age 14, I could reliably expect George to call to see how I was doing, both in my advocacy and in life in general.  Those regular calls continued for over a decade until not long before his passing.  It’s clear that I was just one beneficiary of his enthusiasm, by far secondary to the traveling public, whose lot was surely improved by his work as a rail advocate.”

From RailPAC Treasurer Bill Kerby:  “I believe George said that he served as county executive for eleven California counties.  He was as tenacious in the pursuit of improving the administration of local governments as he was for passenger rail.  George explained to us, while sipping refreshments aboard a San Joaquin on one of the frequent journeys to the San Joaquin Valley Rail Committee, that the birth of his passion for rail began with street cars and interurban cars in the Midwest.  His interest in rail never waned.  He was a good man who will be greatly missed by me personally and the rail advocacy community collectively.”

RailPAC extends condolences to George’s wife, Iris, and the family!

Reports

TAMC Rail Policy Committee Meeting Report

May 3, 2010 Meeting

Reported by Chris Flescher, Associate Director

There was a recommendation to create an Ad Hoc Committee for proposed stations.  The group members would visit the sites of the proposed Castroville and Pajaro Stations, plus the existing Salinas train station.  The recommendation passed.

The RPC has recently met with the operators of the Capitol Corridor.  They will make a presentation at the CCJPB meeting on June 16 in Oakland.  There is a possibility that service to Salinas will start in 2013.

The City of Council of Salinas has passed a resolution to support the so-called “smaller design” of the Salinas Intermodel Transit Center (ITC).  The smaller plan involves moving some Monterey Salinas Transit (MST) routes to the ITC and creating a second MST transit center there.  The existing MST center (which is 3 blocks away) will continue to be used for the other MST routes. The earlier plan was to completely replace the existing MST transit center with the future one next to the train station.
The RPC contacted the California Transportation Commission (CTC), asking them to program the remaining Prop. 116 funds to buying land for right of way.  The CTC approved the request.  The RPC made Requests for Proposals for real estate groups to assist with buying the necessary right of way property.

Monterey Branch Line

There are currently two routing options for the area just to the north of Window on the Bay Park.  The proposed track locations are close to each other, maybe 100 feet apart.

TAMC has received a message from the city of Marina, which lists about 70 comments.  According to the RPC, most of the concerns can be easily addressed.

The RPC showed their simulation video of trains passing between Castroville and Monterey.  The RPC members expressed an interest in having close up scenes in the video of trains passing Window on the Bay Park, and for certain major intersections.  The City of Monterey would like an addition to the video, showing an overhead view of a train passing Window on the Bay Park. All the scenes in the current video are side views, like a person walking nearby would see.  The RPC members made some suggestions for slight changes to the video.  Two suggestions were to have a few more people on the train, and to show the train moving a little more slowly.  The reason for the second suggestion is that some residents still worry that the trains will be big, loud, and fast, therefore disturbing the atmosphere in the area.  The video was a “draft” version, and the RPC will make the suggested changes before showing it to the public at some upcoming outreach sessions.

Rail Photos, Tracking Rail News

Tracking Rail News: May 2010

Commentary and PHOTOS by Russ Jackson

. . . On Time Performance. April was again a good month for the Amtrak western long distance trains. There were more “on time” than late, but when it was late was it late! The big exceptions were #6, the California Zephyr, was almost 11 hours late into Denver on April 23, but on other days in April it was close to OT every day; #7 the Empire Builder was late 168 minutes into Spokane on April 14, and its counterpart #8 was late almost 20 hours into Minneapolis on April 10. For the rest of the system, “close to OT” is the operative word and the medal for this month goes to Texas Eagle #22, which was OT or early into St. Louis every day but one, and that was on 4/2 when it was only 45 minutes late. For the FY, since October 1, 2009, the Sunset Limited has been OT close to 90%, and the Coast Starlight (photo) is now 88%. It’s almost getting to be non-news to comment on this topic. On the other hand, we looked at the Acela Express performance on April 6 and found since the FY began Acelas had been delayed 71,700 minutes. Nothing is perfect, even on the Northeast Corridor, but perfection is closer for the long distance trains in the west!

. . . Riders and Revenue. Last month this column reported on the ridership and revenue of the three small stations on the Sunset route, which brought up the question of how were the small stations in California doing in the same period, FY 2009? These are stations served only by long distance trains and the stats do not reflect any bus or connecting riders at those stations. This month we will highlight the Coast Starlight route: Dunsmuir (photo) had 3,950 riders and brought in $225,187. Paso Robles had 9,513 and $468,258. Salinas had 27,316 riders and $978,130. Chico had 8,526 and $479,748, and Redding had 8,985 and $547,259. This data was found on greatamericanstations.com. These small stations cannot be compared to large stations, like Martinez which has both the Starlight and the Zephyr, etc., where they had 394,814 riders and $8,157,255, but those small stations were positive contributors to the revenue of the long distance trains and served the traveling public in a way that other public travel modes did not.

. . . RailPAC-NARP meeting comments. This writer was unable to attend the April 17 Los Angeles meeting in person, but thanks to Editor Noel Braymer I was able to see the presentations on the DVDs that he sent me. I’ll only comment on two presentations here, as much has been written about the meeting in this publication and on Carl Morrison’s excellent report on Trainweb.com. Bill Bronte, the Chief of the Caltrans Rail Program (photo), is always good for some pithy remarks and this year both at the Sacramento meeting, which I was able to attend, and in Los Angeles he spoke of the future of California’s rail program. It’s important that all California rail enthusiasts pay attention to what Bill has to say, so here is my summary of his remarks: “Positive signs!” Mr. Bronte is starting to see growth, particularly on the San Joaquins (Note: ridership there is up 6.6% in this FY). But, there is no money for expansion, so when will that get better? He sees 3 to 5 years to recovery. “Our dollars come from truck drivers and their diesel fuel purchases. We came close to losing the rail program in March,” when support funds were destined to be erased from the state budget and would have been dumped into the general fund to compete for funding along with many other programs. But, advocacy groups got together and walked the halls of the State Capitol. CRCC, LOSSAN, Capitol Corridor, and the San Joaquin Committee, along with other advocates like Orange County’s Art Brown, worked successfully to get the program included in the new gas tax bill. But, Mr. Bronte explained that operating fund expansions in the future will have to be self-financed through increases earned by the program, as will capital expenditures, as the state level of funding will remain static. As for matching grants for federal funds, the state will be short on new funds to match. Bond sales will be very limited as repayments begin quickly and there is no funding for them. The main point of his presentation was, “A dedicated fund source is needed, as rail is a critical part of the state’s transportation system.” Will the next administration make positive changes? Not a lot, regardless of who is elected, as budget problems will continue. “Get out there and advocate,” he said. The other presentation to be mentioned here was from Stephen Gardner, Amtrak’s VP for Policy and Development. While nothing new, which attendees were hoping to hear, was forthcoming from him, he did say Amtrak’s farebox recovery is 80% for its operating costs. An astounding figure. As for California, needless to say Amtrak considers the state its #1 “partner,” as well they should with all the dollars that flow into Amtrak’s coffers. Amtrak has 2,800 employees in California. As for the long distance trains, he only said they are working on getting the Sunset Limited daily but had no details. When RailPAC’s Mike Barnbaum asked about that train’s new schedule Mr. Gardner chose not to reply, but said a daily Sunset “can add value to the present system.” No additional routes can be added under current law, only improvements to current routes.

. . . Here and there.
The Heartland Flyer, train 822, at Gainesville, Texas, station, running late on May 4, 2010, powered 20% by biodiesel.
All the jokes have now been used up, but what else can be said about Amtrak’s plan underway since April 20, to experiment with having the Ft. Worth to Oklahoma City Heartland Flyer locomotive fuel tanks filled with a blend of 20% biodiesel made from beef fat, and 80% petroleum-based diesel. Amtrak’s Texas assistant superintendent Joy Smith had the best comment: “I don’t smell any french fries yet.” The source of the biodiesel being used by Amtrak is from “the remains of cattle raised near Fort Worth.” This experiment could have positive environmental benefits, and could lead to increased usage by Amtrak nationally which uses 62 million gallons of fuel a year. RailPAC’s Paul Dyson says “Our San Francisco Bay Rail’s 1940-built switchers have run on biodiesel for about a year now, and meet emission standards as tested by the State of California.”
. . . Missouri’s lawmakers successfully killed a move to cut more than $8 million in funding for the Amtrak trains that run between St. Louis and Kansas City, despite having a looming budget gap although nowhere as large as California’s. The Missouri trains have had poor on time records until recent investments in the corridors have raised that to about 90% on time now, and that reliability has brought upward of 16% ridership growth. Missouri’s local transit funding was saved as well. . . . Sunset Limited riders can now download a “podcast” which will give them an “interpretive tour of the communities and regions through which they are traveling.” Amtrak is working with the National Park Service and Texas A & M University on this project, which is available at AmtrakRailGuide.com for a free download. Something about this sounds familiar, and it goes back to an article written by RailPAC member Richard Strandberg which was published in the August, 1998 Western Rail Passenger Review, titled “Interpretive Recordings for Long Distance Passenger Trains.”!! where he proposed just such an idea. . . . Technology is slowly coming to benefit Amtrak ticket holders, too. California writer Gene Poon reports that passengers who book online at Amtra.com can now change their reservations online instead of standing in line at the station, but can only be used before a paper ticket is issued. If the reservation is made by phone or at a station, however, changes cannot be made online.

. . . Vaguely on-topic from Minnesota’s Andrew C. Selden on April 12: “For the Minnesota Twins’ home opener in their new outdoor baseball park, Target Field, MetroTransit is operating a baseball special, which just arrived in Minneapolis in push mode, with five cars (Bombardier Bilevels), for a 3 pm first pitch. The return train will leave 30 minutes after the last out. The Northstar Minneapolis station (such as it is—two tracks and a platform) is directly adjacent to and under the left field corner. I believe that this is our first five-car revenue train. Scheduled trains are three and four cars long. BNSF’s former GN Willmar Division main line was displaced 40-50 feet to the northwest to allow for stadium and Northstar construction. The end of the line for the Hiawatha LRT line is adjacent to the same point (the left field corner) at street level, perpendicular to the railroad.

Commentary, Issues

UP Extortion Letter to CA Shows That FRA/Congressional Legislative Guidance Are Needed

Commentary by Dennis Lytton, Director

Earlier this week, the Union Pacific Railroad distributed to the media, particuarly the San Jose Mercury News, their letter to the Authority of April 23, 2010.  In it they outline their most forceful position thus far of not cooperating with high speed rail.

Significantly, their letter above asserts the following claims:

  • No overpass or underpass structure can touch their right-of-way nor can any other HSR facilities.  Nor will they sell any of their land.  Even though their right-of-way often is hundreds of feet wide or more and has no prospect of development.
  • They will fight to keep HSR off land adjacent to their tracks that they or their customers do not even own, reasoning that many hundreds of miles of land adjacent to tracks needs to be kept “banked” for freight rail purposes.

Read the whole letter here:
04 23 2010 Union Pacific Letter

Those of us who have followed the issue of the freight railroads’ cooperation with conventional passenger rail and high speed rail in particular are disappointed but hardly surprised by UP’s maddening stance.

UP’s position on this issue is in stark contrast to that of some other freight railroads, particularly the BNSF Railway.  BNSF has had a cooperative relationship with the Authority thus far.  BNSF seems to get that where their ROW is adjacent to HSR, HSR development will be a “tide that lifts all boats” improving their tracks and getting them needed grade separation and other improvements.

Moreover, BNSF’s CEO Matt Rose has been one of the most prominent corporate cheerleaders of passenger rail and HSR in America.  Though he predictably asserts that his company must be made financially whole when passenger trains use its facilities, he has also advocated public investment in both conventional rail and HSR infrastructure.

One can speculate on the culture of the management and board of directors at UP that leads them to bash passenger rail development at every turn, though it is now a public policy priority of the Obama Administration and Congress. Perhaps they are holding out for a 20thcentury business-as-usual policy from Washington. That is, no passenger rail development and more Bush-era zero Amtrak budgets.

It is also fair to draw conclusions from UP’s ties to the Bush administration (Dick Cheney was on their board until 2000) and their strong donations to Republicans starting in the late nineties to the middle of the ’00s.

UP’s argument is in essence “This is my private property and you and your public purposes be damned.” And it is quite untenable. UP doesn’t own any conventional piece of private property like a building or farm or home. Their railroad occupies massive linear swaths of the state of California. Drive for an hour in California today and you’ll very likely get over or under or on their ROW. Unlike any conventional private property, railroads often own the only tenable transportation path for passenger rail development. This land was essentially given to their predecessor companies more than a hundred years ago through outright grants or bargain basement prices by a government that had just conquered this land and was intent on its successful settlement.

Fortunately, UP’s extortion letter to the taxpayers can be responded to by the Federal Railroad Administration and the Congress via appropriate regulatory guidance. The American Reinvestment and Recovery Act’s $8 billion of rail development money will not be effective if the regulatory environment permits freight rail tactics like UP’s to continue. The FRA should move towards mandating BNSF’s approach to HSR development. That is, mandate that freight railroads must cooperate on such basic items as under and overpass structures in such a way as the cost to the public is minimized and the freight railroads’ business is not adversely impacted. Clarify the right of HSR development agencies to acquire through eminent domain freight railroad properties adjacent to their tracks, particularly ones that they are holding for no purpose at all. Their property in Gilroy that they steadfastly refuse to negotiate for in their April 23rd letter can be fairly called “blighted” in its current state.

UP’s letter mentions the derailment safety issue of having an HSR ROW next to a conventional railroad ROW. This issue should be taken up by the FRA. Mitigations that UP mentions such as crash walls in narrow areas, intrusion detection systems (Los Angeles Metro Rail’s Green Line, for instance, uses an intrusion detection system for its freeway ROW to detect cars that could jump the K-rail), may very well be good approaches after some study by an independent regulatory agency and not a freight railroad bent on stopping HSR at all costs.

An HSR right-of-way and an adjacent freight infrastructure can be a “tide that lifts all boats”.  That most seem to get this except the Union Pacific Railroad is unfortunate.

Editorials

Transportation: Following the Money

Editorial by Noel T. Braymer

Raising money for any transportation project, but particularly rail passenger service is always difficult. Adding to the difficulties are the high price tags for many rail projects. Already there is increasing concern about the price tag for the California High Speed Rail project. There are estimates of 6 billion dollars for construction for just 34 miles between Anaheim and Los Angeles. Such a short segment will provide limited service but is being considered for the first leg to have passenger service. Have we seen this before?

Most organizations to some degree create empires. The bigger and more expensive the project the greater the bureaucratic empire created. Involved with this are the many contractors and consulting firms working on such projects. The bigger and more expensive the project, the more money they make. Also as mini-empires organizations treat other transportation service providers as competition for funding instead of as partners. What gets lost in all of this is the point of any project: serving the public in the best way possible.

In the 1950’s and 60’s there were many expensive fully graded separated “Rapid Transit” projects proposed across the country. At the same time existing streetcar, interurban and local rail services were being shut down for lack of government support. While the many “Rapid Transit” projects kept consultants and planners busy most never got beyond the proposal stage. Those that did get built often were mired in cost overruns and delays. Among many transit supporters came the term “goldplating” to describe overbuilt projects that underserved the needs of the public. In reaction to “goldplating” there arose the Light Rail movement and the rebirth of commuter rail in the 1970’s and 80’s. These new services were able to provide expanded service at the lowest possible capital cost. The inspiration for modern Light Rail came form the experience of Frankfurt, Germany. In the late 1950’s Frankfurt was studying what to do about its local transit. Frankfurt looked at building a full subway system, monorail or upgrading their existing streetcar system. Frankfurt officials discovered that upgrading their streetcar system would attract the most passengers. The reason was in terms of travel time an upgraded streetcar system was faster for most passengers than subway or monorail. The upgraded streetcar system was more extensive, more direct and required fewer transfers than subway or monorail. Frankfurt today has many miles of subway. But the same trains also travel outside of the city core on the surface in private medians which have replaced the old streetcar tracks. The Red Line subway in Los Angeles has come a long way in ridership since it opened in the 1990’s. But the increase in ridership came as the service added route miles and from connections to light rail lines such as the Blue Line from Long Beach, the Gold Line from East Los Angels and Pasadena as well as the busway Orange Line across the San Fernando Valley.

Speaking of money and transportation, we just went through another tax season last month. What does your Federal Taxes pay for? The Federal Budget is now just over 3 trillion dollars. Of that just over half, 1.6 trillion dollars is spent for items related to military spending. There is 700 billion for the Defense Department. Another 200 billion is needed for operations in Iraq and Afghanistan. The Veteran Administration is budgeted for 100 billion while 94 billion is for military spending outside of the Defense Department. And 400 billion each year is the cost paid on the interest run up on the national debt due to military spending. Social Security will cost this year 695 billion, Medicare 453 billion, and Medicaid 290 billion dollars. The budget for the Department of Transportation is 72.5 billion.

So where are our taxes coming from? Not from Exxon Mobil, Chevron, General Electric or Bank of American at least in this country. Exxon Mobil was the most profitable corporation in the world last year with profits of 45.2 billion dollars. Exxon Mobil did pay 15 billion dollars income taxes overseas but not one penny went to the IRS. The 6 most profitable companies in the world are all oil companies. Large corporations can reduce their taxes because they can deduct taxes paid overseas from their American taxes. Also they report most of their profits overseas in countries with low tax rates and their losses in this county.

When we look at who pays taxes, the answer would be you if you have a job. Individual Income Taxes paid came to 1.061 trillion dollars. Another 940 billion dollars was paid in payroll taxes for Social Security and Medicare. Those corporations that did pay Income Tax paid the IRS 222 billion dollars. When large profitable corporation pay no income tax, they are being subsidized by the taxpayer. This is all legal, but then the large corporations, particularly the Oil companies spend millions to lobby congress for tax breaks. In addition Oil Companies spend a great deal for advertising which gives them a great deal of clout with the media. The largest contributors of many “Think Tanks” and foundations critical of government regulations and Income Taxes come from the Oil Industry and their shareholders.

If we look at the defense budget, most of our non-nuclear forces are dedicated since the mid-1970’s to insuring that the flow of oil world wide is not disrupted. Even though Afghanistan doesn’t have oil, it is possible to run oil and gas pipelines through it from the Caspian Sea bypassing the need to run pipelines through Iran or Russia. The Caspian Sea has the 2nd largest oil reserves after the Persian Gulf region. You are paying much more for gasoline than 3 dollars a gallon today, even if you don’t own a car.

Commentary, Issues

Demonstrating Why We Need New Railcars Now: Amtrak #763

Commentary by Jarrod DellaChiesa, Director and Website Editor

On Saturday, May 15 Amtrak passengers were not allowed to board Pacific Surfliner #763 in Chatsworth.  Would-be passengers reported the Conductor designated the train as “overcrowded and unsafe”.  Ridership was high on this run due to passengers traveling to the Strawberry Festival.

We desperately need new railcars in order to increase capacity on Pacific Surfliner, Capital Corridor and San Joaquin trains.  Voter approved state bond money needs to be released so a car order can be placed.

Agencies need to work together to utilize equipment to meet the needs of the public.  Metrolink trains sit in the siding in Montalvo and Moorpark on the weekends.  Extra trains should be scheduled to provide additional capacity so people can leave their cars at home and take the train.

Reports

TAMC Rail Policy Committee Meeting Report

April 5, 2010 Meeting

Reported by Chris Flescher, Associate Director

Presentation from planners working on the HSR segment San Jose – Merced

In 2035, if the fare is at the lower planned level, then the expected ridership is 100 million people per year.  The run time from San Francisco to Los Angeles, phase 1, will be 2 hours 40 minutes and the length will be about 500 miles.  The planners are at the alternatives analysis stage, and they will publish a report in about 1 month.

For the impact on TAMC, the Morgan Hill to Gilroy subsection is the most important part of the HSR.  The area has quite a few alternative routes, and going adjacent to Highway 101 is one route.  It is believed that the Gilroy station would need about 6000 parking spaces.  If a completely new Gilroy HSR station is built, it would be about 1 mile southeast of the existing one.  The new station location would not provide as good connections to the “local” San Jose to Salinas service.  All HSR stations would have 4 tracks.

Monterey Branch Line

There is a need for more public outreach.  Some people think that the proposed light rail on the MBL is the same kind of service as the state HSR.  For MBL street crossings, there will be gates and lights, but no bells or horns are planned, so the system should be very quiet.

One alignment (past Window on the Bay Park) will run the tracks right next to Del Monte Avenue, so very little of the park will be “lost.”  There is an interest in adding a few locations to the simulations, like Contra Costa Street and  Playa Avenue.

One suggestion made was to mention some of the right of way history, around 1985-1989.  During that time, the cities of Monterey and Marina reached an agreement, which included accepting some state money to buy the rail line with plans to turn it into a bike path but accept future transit use of the corridor.

Short animated videos (simulations) are being created for every station.  They show what trains passing the stations will look like.  There is a need to finish the simulations in time for some upcoming public events, like the one which will be the second Monterey Waterfront Master Plan meeting.

What’s Next?

Next month, TAMC will ask the state for permission to use the last of the Prop 116 money to buy property for the rail line to Salinas.  The estimated property cost is $24 million.

There is a desire to release a Request for Qualifications, for real estate agents and appraisers, for buying land in the right of way. The RFQ also includes legal firms for assistance with buying.  The plan is to take this plan to the full TAMC Board of Directors this month.  During the June meeting, the committee will return with a list of approved agencies.  The motion to release the RFQ was approved by the Rail Policy Committee.

It was mentioned that the San Jose Mercury News predicts that Caltrain could be bankrupt in two years from now.  The Capitol Corridor operators appear to have more stable sources of funding.  This seems to show that TAMC made the right decision, which is to pursue negotiations with the Capitol Corridor operators, to extend some of their trains to Salinas.

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Commentary

April California Intercity Passenger Rail Performance

Reported by David B. Kutrosky, Managing Director, CCJPA

After the first increase in 13 months, ridership for the Capitol Corridor in April 2010 was just slightly below April 2009 by 0.5%. As mentioned in previous monthly reports, the greatest impediment to ridership gains is the on-going mandate of three (3) Friday furloughs per month for state government employees (which also impacts businesses, vendors, and service industries in the Capitol).

Revenues for April were below projection (-5.7%) but above prior April (+1.9%) with YTD revenues slightly above (0.4%) with last year.  As a means of increasing ridership and revenues, the CCJPA has restarted two marketing campaigns targeting mid-day travel (discounts for school groups and seniors) and weekends (Kids Ride Free on Weekends/Fridays).

April On-Time Performance (OTP) was a phenomenal 94% and represents the highest reliability score for the current fiscal year.  With the completion of the two (2) tie-renewal programs that took place from mid-January to mid-March, the railroad is in a good state of repair and there are NO slow orders on the route affecting Capitol Corridor trains.

Current projections indicate that the deficit in the State FY 10-11 Budget will worsen as income tax receipts are below estimates.  Staff is watching the state legislative budget process as it is unclear how this increased deficit will impact the operating and capital funds for the Capitol Corridor and the CA Intercity Passenger Rail (IPR) Program.

(Download:  April 2010 Performance Report)

Capitol Corridor (April 2010):

  • Ridership: 137,871 riders; -0.5% vs. Apr 2009; -5.2% vs. prior YTD; -3.4% vs. FY10 Plan; +0.2% annual growth compared to 2 years ago
  • Revenue: +1.9% vs. Apr 2009; +0.4% vs. prior YTD; -4.6% vs. FY10 Plan
  • On-Time Performance: 94%, best month yet in FY10; YTD result of 92% keeping the service #1 in the nation for multi-frequency trains.
  • System Operating Ratio: 46% YTD vs. 47% in FY09; expenses remain under control, while revenue is still below plan
  • The Capitol Corridor route still continues to be third busiest route in the country, with ridership at 1.55 million for the last 12 months

Pacific Surfliners (April 2010):

  • Ridership: 234,158 passengers; +6.8% vs. Apr 2009, and +1.0% ahead of prior YTD; continues 3-month streak of with ridership increase over prior year month; remains second busiest route in the nation, by a wide margin.
  • Ticket Revenue only: +9.7% vs. Apr 2009, and +5.3% vs. prior YTD
  • On-time performance for Apr 2010:  80% (YTD FY 2010 on-time performance: 80%)

San Joaquins (April 2010):

  • Ridership: 84,044 passengers  +6.2% vs. Apr 2009, and +5.6% v.s prior YTD; one of longest streaks of positive growth in Amtrak system
  • Ticket Revenue only: +18.2%  vs. Apr 2009, and +9.0% vs. prior YTD
  • On-time performance for Apr 2010:  94%, besting the Capitol Corridor (94.2% vs, 94.1%) as #1 train in Amtrak system for April 2010 (YTD FY 2010 on-time performance: 90%)
Proposed Passenger Rail System
Issues, Rail Photos

Our Vision for Rail in California and Nevada

CONNECTIONS!  It’s all about connections. Depending on your journey you may live close to a station that has a direct service to your destination.  But there’s a good chance that you’ll need to transfer, from bus to train, light rail to high speed rail, Surfliner to long distance Amtrak.  RailPAC’s campaign is all about connections between these modes so that all of us can enjoy mobility without the automobile.

Our map attempts to portray the statewide system that we want to see over the next two decades.  What it cannot show, but is equally important, is the electronic ticketing and information system that is needed to make passenger rail easy to use for 40 million Californians.

Current Passenger Rail System Proposed Passenger Rail System
Help us at RailPAC to make this a reality. Join us today!

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