From David B. Kutrosky, Managing Director, Capitol Corridor Joint Powers Authority
May 2013 results signal that the decline in ridership has tapered off for the Capitol Corridor–156,521 passengers rode Capitol Corridor trains in May 2013. Ridership was 1.5% below May 2012, yet it represents the third highest total for May and the sixth highest in the history of the service. Revenue in May 2013 was slightly below May 2012, with year-to-date (YTD)revenues even with last year’s totals. On-time performance (OTP) remained at exceptional levels [96% in May and YTD at 95%] keeping the Capitol Corridor as the second most reliable trains in the Amtrak system.
Detailed May 2013 ridership data is not yet available; however, review of the daily e-ticketing conductor reports indicate improvements in the later weekday morning trains that had been underperforming earlier this year I attribute these increases to a large number of school group bookings which tend to peak during the end of the school year. The weekday peak travel trains and weekend trains are performing at the same level (if not better) as last year. Based on the April 2013 data, station boardings continue to be underperforming at the Roseville, Sacramento, Davis, Richmond and Fremont stations. The San Jose/Silicon Valley market stations are showing sustained growth.
Superb Service Reliability
The on-time performance for the trains still continue to be on track for a record year for service reliability in FY2013. Union Pacific Railroad (UPRR) and Caltrain maintain their commitment to keeping the trains on-time along the Capitol Corridor which includes a mix of freight, Amtrak long-distance and commuter trains; and continues superb dispatching of freight and passenger train on this busy shared use corridor. Only three late trains were attributable to mechanical malfunctions – an enormous improvement compared to fall 2012. Delays due to bridge lifts of the
Suisun-Martinez rail drawbridge continue to decrease thanks to the improved protocol developed and implemented by the UPRR, Coast Guard, Amtrak, CCJPA and the Bar Pilots (tugboat operators).
PRIIA Section 209 Amtrak Pricing Policy for State Supported IPR Services Amtrak submitted its forecasts for the FY14 operating budgets to the state IPR agencies on April 19, 2013 that are required to conform with the pricing policy developed pursuant to Section 209 of the Passenger Rail Improvement and Investment Act of 2008 (PRIIA). The policy, developed in partnership with the states and Amtrak, will now require any Amtrak-operated passenger rail route under 750 miles to be financially supported entirely by the state(s) which these routes operate. For the three California IPR routes, the state has always provided 100% of the operating support for the San Joaquin and Capitol Corridor; the Pacific Surfliner has received 70% support from the state and 30% by Amtrak through its annual federal appropriation. For FY14, California will now be required to support 100% of the Pacific Surfliner in addition to the Capitol Corridor and San Joaquin services. The primary outcome of the policy, which was adopted by Amtrak and 18 of the 19 affected states in 2011, is to allow states to have a better opportunity to control and manage the costs and operation of these IPR corridor services in their respective states. On May 21, I provided testimony (oral and written) to the Railroad, Pipelines and Hazardous Materials Subcommittee of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee regarding “Understanding the Cost Drivers of Passenger Rail,” of which the PRIIA Section 209 pricing policy will be an important factor in helping state IPR agencies understand and control their IPR operating costs.
FY 13-14 Draft State Budget May Revise
Governor Brown released his May Revise of the FY 13-14 Budget on May 10, 2013, which updates his draft budget released in January 2013. The May Revise proposes an additional $18.6 million to the initial $90.3 million for the three CA IPR services in order to meet cost increases that are incurred with the implementation of the PRIIA Section 209 pricing policy affecting the nation’s 27 Amtrak-operated, state supported IPR services. This supplemental funding, which will primarily be used to increase the state support for the Pacific Surfliner from 70% to 100%, has passed out of the state legislative budget subcommittees of the Assembly and Senate. The legislature passed the FY14 budget which includes $90.3 million plus the additional $18.6 million to support the operations of the three CA IPR services in FY14.
Surface Transportation and Rail Safety Reauthorizations
CCJPA staff has been working with APTA, AASHTO and other interested agencies in the preparation of principles that will lay out the development of a multi-year federal capital grants program (using new revenue sources). This program will distribute grants to state-supported IPR and HST services in conjunction with the pending expiration of MAP-21 in October 2014 and PRIIA (the current railroad safety and Amtrak reauthorization, which expires in October 2013). Various APTA committees have adopted these principles at the June 1-5, 2013 APTA Rail Conference which will now be forwarded to APTA for formal adoption. The intent is then to circulate
these principles to generate discussions towards developing a federally-funded Rail Title for the reauthorization of either PRIIA or MAP-21. The principles will also be presented to transportation leaders in the House and Senate as well as to the Federal Railroad Administration.
Customer Service Program Upgrades
CCJPA Bike Access Program. In February the CCJPA Board adopted the
CCJPA Bicycle Access Plan. We delayed launching this program due to
the installation of Positive Train Control (PTC) equipment on the cab
cars to be done after we upgrade these cab cars with enhanced
bicycle storage. In short, there will not be enough converted
cab/bike cars available until the PTC upgrades are completed in fall
2013. The other at-station elements of the Bicycle Access Plan are
moving forward with funding agreements and in the summer and fall of
2013 the CCJPA will secure the remaining state funding, which will
support the eLocker and folding bicycle rental programs.
Amtrak eTicketing program: Amtrak, at the CCJPA’s request, is
advancing next phases of the program – conductor printers for
seat-checks and sales receipts and software upgrades to allow for
print-at-home multi-ride tickets—which should be complete in fall
NASCAR Express: The CCJPA in partnership with the Sonoma Raceway
hosted the first-ever Capitol Corridor NASCAR Express train on
Sunday, June 23, 2013. This special train served the Sacramento,
Davis and Suisun-Fairfield stations and then proceeded directly to
the Sonoma Raceway via the Cal Northern and SMART railroads through
the scenic wine country that can only be viewed through this rail
route. Response to this promotion had been overwhelming with over
350 ticket packages sold. These special packages included train
tickets, admission to the NASCAR Toyota/Save Mart 350 event, shirts
and other memorabilia.
Safety Fences: Staff and UPRR have completed the surveys for the next
phase of fence projects. Locations include south San Leandro, Union
City and south Hayward.
Transportation of Law Enforcement Officers: This program is now fully
implemented with over 50 law enforcement officers enrolled from
various law enforcement agencies within the corridor route.
Passenger Injuries: The Capitol Corridor continues its superb
commitment to passenger safety with a 72% reduction in passenger
injury ratio compared to the prior year reporting period.
Yolo Causeway West Crossover Project. On April 14, 2013, UPRR
completed the final work in activating the signal system for the new
universal crossover located west of the Yolo Causeway bridge. The
completion of this project marks the conclusion of the third and
final project along the Capitol Corridor using funds from the
American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (ARRA).
Sacramento to Roseville 3rd Track Environmental Review/Preliminary
Engineering. This project is about to begin the environmental process
with the advancement of selected alignment alternatives. The CCJPA
will develop a public participation plan and move more formally into
the environmental documentation phase of the project which will
include the analysis of project alternatives for public review.
Oakland-San Jose Phase 2 Project Environmental Review/Preliminary
Engineering. In March 2013, the CCJPA was allocated $3.5 million to
fund preliminary engineering (30% design) and project environmental
documents for the track infrastructure upgrades for the Oakland-San
Jose Phase 2 Project. This completion of these improvements will
permit an increase of up to 11 round trips in the Oakland to San Jose
corridor. CCJPA expects to secure the services of a design and
environmental consultant in the late summer or early fall period.
Additional discussions and analysis with UPRR and Caltrain, the
respective host railroads, are required to ensure sufficient
resources are allocated to the various subprojects.
Monthly ridership totals for FY13 are still below last year’s recordship results; however, the ridership for April and May 2013 are closer to the prior year month records. Year-to-date, ridership is 3.3% below last year, while other performance measures continue to be steady or improving: YTD revenues are even with last year, system operating ratio has improved to 55% due to lower fuel costs, and OTP remains at an impressive 95%, allowing the Capitol Corridor trains to hold steady on the number two spot for reliability in the Amtrak system. The CCJPA team is working with
our service partners to reduce service delays, maintain high customer satisfaction, invest in safety initiatives along the route, and advance pre-development work for the service expansion projects (involving San Jose/Salinas, Placer County) and introducing customer enhancement initiatives (bike access/storage, e-Ticketing upgrades).
Capitol Corridor May 2013
– Ridership: 158,521 riders; -1.5% vs. May 2012; -3.3% vs. prior YTD
– Revenue: $2,570,166; -0.8% vs. May 2012; +0.0% vs. prior YTD
– On-Time Performance: 96% , YTD OTP of 95% (#2 in the nation).
– System Operating Ratio: 55% YTD vs. 50% in FY12
Pacific Surfliners May 2013:
– Ridership: 240,848 passengers; +1.9% vs. May 2012; +3.0% vs. prior YTD
– Ticket Revenue: +3.3% vs. May 2012; +7.8% vs. prior YTD
– On-time performance: 89% (YTD FY13 on-time performance: 87%)
San Joaquin May 2013:
– Ridership: 109,365 passengers +8.3% vs. May 2012; +6.5% vs. prior YTD
– Ticket Revenue only: -0.4% vs. May 2012; +2.3% vs. prior YTD
– On-time performance: 68% [lower OTP due to track maintenance projects]
(YTD FY13 on-time performance: 79%)