By David B. Kutrosky, Managing Director
Capitol Corridor Joint Powers Authority
Year-over-year ridership on the Capitol Corridor trains was even with last September. 132,937 passengers rode the Capitol Corridor trains in September 2013, closing out FY 2013 with a total of 1.70 million riders and representing a 2.6% decrease in riders compared to FY 2012. Revenues for September 2013 were down 3.6% compared to September 2012, with total FY 2013 revenues down 1.1% below FY 2012. Ridership losses appear to be lessening as ridership for the last quarter of FY 2013 (July – September 2013) was even with the same quarter in FY 2012 as compared to the first three quarters of FY 2013 (October 2012 – June 2012) was 3.4% below the
first three quarters of FY 2012.
As we continue to review and analyze the daily conductor e-Ticketing reports, midday weekday trains are underperforming compared to last year. Detailed data at stations available for the period of October 2012 through August 2013 indicate that ridership is decreasing at the Sacramento [-6%], Roseville [-24%], Rocklin [-11%], Fremont [-11%] and Davis [-6%] stations.
Despite these ridership and revenue declines, on-time performance (OTP) for the Capitol Corridor was a remarkable 97% for September 2013. In fact, there were 15 days in September 2013 where all Capitol Corridor were on-time, representing a “100%” day. The superior OTP for September 2013 allowed the Capitol Corridor to finish FY 2013 as the most reliable service [95%] in the Amtrak system for the fourth year in a row. This is a magnificent accomplishment and brings to light the strong commitment by our operating partners to the reliable and safe operation of the Capitol Corridor trains — Caltrain, Union Pacific Railroad, Amtrak and Bar Pilots [tug boat operators who request the lifting of the Benicia-Martinez Rail
The year-end system operating ratio improved to 51% primarily due to lower fuel prices and reduced fuel consumption. With the installation of the power cabinets at the Sacramento Valley Station, the engines of the five trainsets lay overnight are turned off and power is supplied through the electrical power cabinets at the ends of the platforms, which has reduced FY 2013 fuel consumption at Sacramento by 64% through August 2013 and lowered system fuel costs by approximately 41%.
CCJPA FY14 Budget/Amtrak Operating Agreement
On September 16, 2013, the new California State Transportation Agency [CSTA] (formerly the State Business, Transportation and Housing Agency) sent the CCJPA its allocation letter for the CCJPA’s FY14 budget which includes funds to support Amtrak’s operation of the Capitol Corridor train (and feeder bus) service. The CCJPA Board of Directors adopted the budget and also authorized the execution of the CCJPA/Amtrak FY2014 operating agreement, which covers the period of October 1, 2013 – September 30, 2014 and conforms with the PRIIA Section 209 pricing policy for state-sponsored Amtrak-operated intercity passenger rail (IPR) services. Execution of this operating agreement allows for the continued operation of the Capitol Corridor trains despite the recent federal government shutdown.
Federal Surface Transportation Reauthorization
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 continues to be active in working with APTA, AASHTO and other interested agencies to prepare and advance 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: While there has been a delay in the launch of the on-board bike policy enforcement program until Spring 2014 (due to the installation of PTC equipment on the cab cars), the cab cars that have been outfitted with PTC controls and added bike storage are in service on some Capitol Corridor trains. Concurrently, the CCJPA is working to replace one regular coach car with a Coach/baggage car which has expanded lower level bike space (similar to modified cab cars) on some of the trains with heavy bike utilization.
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.
• 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 (~50% complete).
• Safety Fences: Continued investment to secure the right-of-way and deter
trespassers via fence projects in North Richmond and the Suisun/Fairfield
• Grade Crossing Upgrades: To address delays and address community safety
concerns, the CCJPA is working with UPRR and Amtrak to develop a action
plan and funding program to prevent cars from getting stuck on the tracks.
There has been a recent increase in these incidents at or near the Oakland
Jack London Station/Embarcadero roadway (which have caused 30+ minute
delays to the trains).
• CCJPA’s Marketing Team is working to fill the weekend and midday weekday
ridership gaps by re-introducing the (1) 50 percent train fare discount for
weekend travel and (2) popular Seniors ride for 50% off on selected weekday
Outlook/Closing: For FY 2013, the Capitol Corridor could not keep with last year’s record-setting ridership and revenue results. Capitol Corridor trains carried 1.70 million riders in FY2013, a 2.6% decrease compared to FY 2012 with revenues down 1.1% versus FY 2012. Ridership losses, however, appear to be going away as ridership is even with the last quarter of FY 2013 (July – September 2013) compared the same quarter in FY 2012. The Capitol Corridor enjoys a solid base of frequent users (both weekday and weekend) thanks in large part to the consistently high-quality and reliable customer-focused operation of the trains [OTP of 96% in last six months of FY2013] and CCJPA and Amtrak management keenly focused on continuously improving customer satisfaction. Targeted marketing over the first 6 months in FY2014 should help to push ridership levels from flat to positive results. The CCJPA team working with operating and funding partners continue to complete pre-development work for the service expansion projects (involving San Jose/Salinas, Placer County), as well as developing advocacy strategies to secure capital grant funds to construct these service expansion projects.
Capitol Corridor September 2013
– Ridership: 132,937 riders; +0.0% vs. Sept. 2012; -2.6% vs. prior YTD
– Revenue: $2,328,922; -3.6% vs. Sept 2012; -1.1% vs. prior YTD
– On-Time Performance: 97%, FY 2013 OTP of 95% (#1 in the nation).
– System Operating Ratio: 51% YTD vs. 50% in FY2012
Pacific Surfliners September 2013:
– Ridership: 207,310 passengers; -2.3% vs. Sept 2012; +2.5% vs. prior YTD
– Ticket Revenue: -1.2% vs. Sept 2012; +6.8% vs. prior YTD
– On-time performance: 83% (FY2013 on-time performance: 85%)
San Joaquin September 2013:
– Ridership: 91,129 passengers -0.9% vs. Sept 2012; +6.62% vs. prior YTD
– Ticket Revenue only: -1.5% vs. Sept 2012; +1.9% vs. prior YTD
– On-time performance: 84% (FY 2013 on-time performance: 78%)