From David B. Kutroksy, Managing Director
Capitol Corridor Joint Powers Authority
Capitol Corridor Service Performance
After a bounce in ridership in July 2013, ridership dropped in August 2013 by 2.2% compared to August 2012. A total of 143,080 passengers rode Capitol Corridor trains in August. Initial evaluation of conductor counts indicated that ridership for August 2013 was even with August 2012 for the first 3½ weeks; however, weekday trains had lower ridership counts during the last week of August 2013 when the Bay Bridge was closed for the final cutover to the eastern span. Revenue for August was slightly below August 2012 by 0.7%
On-time performance (OTP) for the Capitol Corridor improved to 96%, keeping the Capitol Corridor as the most reliable train service in the Amtrak system. The year-to-date system operating ratio is meeting business plan standard due to reduced operating expenses, primarily due to lower diesel fuel prices and lower consumption of fuel.
Service Reliability Improvements – Suisun-Martinez Drawbridge. The delays from lifting the Suisun-Martinez Drawbridge for ships passing along the Carquinez Strait have reduced over the past couple of months thanks to a new joint program launched between the San Francisco Bar Pilots, Union Pacific Railroad, Amtrak and the CCJPA. The parties worked together to identify the most opportune times to successfully move marine traffic under the raised drawbridge; taking into full consideration currents, tide levels and other marine traffic, etc., while also seeking to minimize delays to the Capitol Corridor trains. A recent evaluation of this new program did indeed show tremendous progress — delays to Capitol Corridor passenger trains passing over the drawbridge between March and August 2013 had decreased by 36% as compared to the same period in 2012. This collaboration is one of the key reasons why the Capitol Corridor is the number one rail passenger service in the nation for OTP in the Amtrak system.
Funding Outlook – State and Federal
FY 13-14 State Budget
On June 28, 2013, Governor Brown signed into law the State Budget Act of 2012 for FY 13-14, which provided $18.6 million in supplemental funds (from the May Revise FY 13-14 Budget) to the initial $90.3 million to support the operation of the three California Intercity Passenger Rail (CA IPR) services (San Joaquin, Capitol Corridor and Pacific Surfliner). The revised total of $108.9 million for the CA IPR services will offset cost increases that are incurred with the implementation of the PRIIA Section 209 pricing policy for the nation’s twenty-seven (27) Amtrak-operated, state supported IPR services. The CCJPA in a joint letter with the other CA IPR agencies sent a letter of support on this request for additional FY14 operating funds. The CCJPA is now working with Amtrak to complete the FY2014 CCJPA/Amtrak Operating Contract (and Budget) for the Capitol Corridor service.
FY2014 Federal Appropriations
With limited or no progress in advancing the FY2014 appropriations bills through Congress, it appears the only solution would be a short-term continuing resolution until mid-December with current FY2013 current sequestration spending levels to maintain funding for the federal government.
Federal Surface Transportation Reauthorization
As with the FY2014 Appropriations bills, to-date there has been no or limited progress to reauthorize the Passenger Rail Improvement and Investment Act of 2008, which expires on October 16, 2013 and covers Amtrak authorization and the current railroad safety programs, including Positive Train Control (PTC). Over the last nine months, 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) that would be
distributed to state-supported IPR and HST services. APTA is expected to adopt a set of principles at its Board of Directors meeting later this year. These principles will then be referenced into APTA’s documents supporting the upcoming surface transportation authorization efforts of MAP-21, thereby helping to establish a federally-funded Rail Title.
Customer Service Program Upgrades
• Bicycle Access Plan: The launch of the on-board bike policy enforcement program has been delayed until later in Spring 2014 when the installation of PTC equipment on the cab cars is complete. The cab cars are currently going through the modification program that will add bike storage capacity to these cars; however, once this modification program is done, these cab cars are then put through the PTC installation program.
The other at-station elements of the Bicycle Access Plan are moving forward with funding agreements and allocation requests to support those actions. The CTC is expected to allocate the final bulk of the funding ($556,000 in December 2013) and once all the agreements and paperwork are in place, the CCJPA will begin the process of deploying the eLocker and folding bicycle rental programs thereafter.
• Amtrak e-Ticketing program: Amtrak, working with CCJPA staff, conducted a pilot program from July to August 2013 that deployed onboard print capability for the conductor eTicketing units onboard Capitol Corridor trains. An additional pilot program to integrate onboard processing of multi-ride tickets is expected to begin in October 2013.
• On-Board Installation of Positive Train Control Equipment: Installation of the PTC equipment on the state-owned equipment is proceeding. All California owned locomotives have been equipped and installation on cab cars is underway (~40% complete).
• Safety Fences: Continued investment to secure the right-of-way and deter trespassers via fence projects in North Richmond and the Suisun/Fairfield Station.
• New Passenger Rail Cars and Locomotives.
o Bi-Level Passenger Rail Cars: Nippon Sharyo/Sumitomo has been selected to manufacture an order of 120 bi-level passenger rail cars (the specifications are very similar to the current bi-level cars assigned to the Capitol Corridor). The final design is underway. Forty-two bi-level rail cars are allocated for the three CA IPR routes. The first delivery of the cars is expected in late 2015 with 10 passenger rail cars to be assigned to the Capitol Corridor.
o Next Generation Diesel Locomotives: The RFP for up to 10 cleaner-burning locomotives was released in August 2013. Two locomotives are to be assigned to the Capitol Corridor. The vendor is expected to be named in early 2014.
o Comet Cars/San Joaquin: Caltrans Division of Rail purchased and completely overhauled 14 Comet Cars, three cab-baggage cars and three Horizon dinette/bistro cars to address overcrowding on San Joaquin service. By the end of this calendar year, a total of two Comet Car trainsets will be introduced into the daily pool of equipment for the San Joaquin service out of the Oakland Maintenance Facility. These additional cars will release at least eight bi-level cars and two upper level café cars that can be reallocated to the San Joaquin and Capitol Corridor equipment
pools to accommodate (1) current overcrowding during peak travel seasons (i.e., Thanksgiving, Easter/Spring Break) and events (e.g., Raider home games) and (2) near-term ridership growth for these train services until the new bi-level cars are delivered in 2015-2016.
Outlook – Closing: Monthly ridership totals for FY13 are still below last year’s record ridership results, but these declines are narrowing. Year-to-date, ridership is 2.8% below last year with revenues slightly below last year’s [-0.7%]. Other performance measures continue to be steady or improving: system operating ratio has improved to 52% due to lower fuel costs, and OTP remains at an impressive 95%, allowing the Capitol Corridor trains to hold steady as the number one spot for reliability in the Amtrak system.
Capitol Corridor August 2013
- Ridership: 143,080 riders; -2.2% vs. August 2012; -2.8% vs. prior YTD
- Revenue: $2,486,581; -0.7% vs. August 2012; -0.8% vs. prior YTD
- On-Time Performance: 96%, YTD OTP of 95% (#1 in the nation).
- System Operating Ratio: 52% YTD vs. 50% in FY12
Pacific Surfliners August 2013:
- Ridership: 278,903 passengers; +5.9% vs. August 2012; +2.9% vs. prior YTD
- Ticket Revenue: +10.5% vs. August 2012; +7.5% vs. prior YTD
- On-time performance: 77% (YTD FY13 on-time performance: 85%)
San Joaquin August 2013:
- Ridership: 114,551 passengers +11.9% vs. August 2012; +7.2% vs. prior YTD
- Ticket Revenue only: +3.0% vs. August 2012; +2.2% vs. prior YTD
- On-time performance: 80% (YTD FY13 on-time performance: 77%)