Reported by David B. Kutrosky, Managing Director
Capitol Corridor Joint Powers Authority
Service Performance Overview
Capitol Corridor ridership and revenue for February 2014 were slightly below last February’s results: -1.6% and -2.7%, respectively. A total of 104,308 trips were made on the Capitol Corridor in February 2014 vs. 105,964 in February 2013. I attribute this decline in ridership to night-time track work performed by Union Pacific Railroad between Richmond and Martinez, which resulted in substituting the two last weekday trains (#548 and #551) with buses between Oakland and Sacramento. We greatly appreciate UPRR performing this much needed state-of-good repair at night instead of midday, which would have meant running fewer trains, resulting in larger ridership losses. This track work is expected to be completed in mid-March.
On-Time Performance (OTP) slipped to 92%, primarily due to Amtrak mechanical delays in the first week of February and delays to evening trains passing through the UPRR track work area. Reliability significantly increased from 87% in the first half of the month to 92% in the latter part of February. The operating ratio was 53% in February 2014 keeping the year-to-date (YTD) ratio at 50%, below plan of 53% due to YTD revenues being below projection.
Work continues to address ridership losses at specific stations and trains as follows:
Trains serving Placer County stations (one in each direction): Meetings with local transit bus agencies in Placer County have identified challenges to coordinate schedules and fares with the one Capitol Corridor train to/from Sacramento. Staff is developing a plan to address these challenges. Sacramento station: A follow-up meeting is scheduled in late March to scope out near-term projects that can improve access to the relocated platforms.
Weekend trains: The February 17, 2014 timetable change included later start times for the late night train (weekday and weekend) out of the Bay Area to Sacramento in order to provide return travel options for Capitol Corridor passengers attending weekday Oakland A’s and Raiders night games as well as weekend evening events in San Francisco, San Jose and Oakland.
FY 14-15 Draft State Budget
CA Intercity Passenger Rail Operating Budget – The Governor’s Draft FY 14-15 Budget provides funding of $108.9 million to support the operation on the three intercity passenger rail routes (San Joaquin, Pacific Surfliner and Capitol Corridor), which is equal to last year’s FY 13-14 budget. The Governor’s draft budget may be updated as part of the May Revise based on Amtrak’s submittal of final FY 14-15 operating (and ridership and revenue) estimates which are expected from Amtrak in late March, 2014.
Cap and Trade Auction Proceeds – The Governor’s Draft FY 14-15 Budget also includes $300 million in revenues from Cap and Trade auction proceeds for the Rail Modernization Program that would be split $250 million for the California High Speed Rail Authority to start construction of a high speed train system in the Central Valley and $50 million for Caltrans’ allocation of competitive grants for existing rail transit agencies to integrate rail systems and provide connectivity to high speed rail. CCJPA sent a letter, based on input provided by the CCJPA Board at its February 19, 2014 meeting, to Assemblymember Bloom (Chair of the Budget Subcommittee #3) stating the $50 million that is available to over thirteen eligible rail transit services/agencies is unlikely to provide significant tangible benefits and that the FY 14-15 Rail Modernization Program account should be increased ten fold to $500 million from Cap and Trade revenues. The increased account could be distributed via a programmatic formula that is fair and equitable and would have enough funds to allow the state’s passenger rail network and rail transit services to expand rail service levels to meet growing passenger demand, reduce greenhouse gas emissions from the transportation sector and support sustainability programs in our communities.
The Governor’s Draft FY 14-15 Budget was released on January 9, 2014, which included the California State Transportation agency’s (CalSTA) recommendations to focus this year’s budget on three areas: maintaining existing transportation nfrastructure, modernizing rail, and supporting local governments as they implement sustainable communities’ plans pursuant to SB 375.
Select Committee on Passenger Rail (Senate and Assembly)
The Select Committee had its first hearing on March 19, 2014. Initial comments from committee members and others indicated that the first hearing was a success. A more detailed summary will be provided next month. A second hearing is planned later in spring (perhaps May). Two documents were developed and prepared by the California Intercity Passenger Rail (CIPR) leadership (Chairs, Vice Chairs, senior staff of the CCJPA, LOSSAN JPA, San Joaquin JPA, and emerging IPR corridor agencies) and distributed at the hearing [California Intercity Passenger Rail 2014 Report and List of Supporters]. Efforts continue to develop a similar committee in the Assembly.
Customer Service Program Upgrades
CCJPA Bicycle Access Program: Retrofitting of cab cars in the Northern California fleet for additional bike storage has been completed, but before the Bicycle Access Program can be launched, each of these cab cars must have Positive Train Control hardware installed, which is scheduled for completion in May 2014. This will allow each Capitol Corridor train to have a cab/bike car (the 8300-series or 6400-series) and a coach/bike car (the 8200 series) in first position of each weekday train consist, therefore nearly doubling the storage capacity (from 15 to 29 spaces) for bikes on each train. For at station bicycle amenities, the CCJPA is completing the funding request materials, specifically the environmental documentation, to obtain $556,000 from the California Transportation Commission (CTC) to install the eLockers and folding bicycle rental systems. CTC action is anticipated no later than May 2014.
Improvements to CCJPA Website and Automated Interactive Voice Response System. Staff has begun the procurement process to update the CCJPA website and improve the CCJPA train status web/mobile device application. Once a vendor is selected, it is anticipated that these updates will be done in six to eight weeks (late spring 2014).
Safety Fences: With the approval of Phase 2 of the 2013 Fencing and Security Enhancements project, a total of 15,802 feet of fencing will be constructed along the Capitol Corridor in 2014.
Positive Train Control. Installation of the PTC equipment on the state-owned equipment is currently proceeding with all locomotives equipped and installation on cab cars underway (~80 complete). Completion is expected by April 2014.
Station Access Safety Improvements. A station-by-station site analysis has been performed to identify a suite of upgrades to lighting, signage and access at all 17 stations. A program of work is scheduled to begin in early April (weather permitting).
Sacramento to Roseville Third Track Environmental Review/Preliminary Engineering: A variety of design options along the existing route between Sacramento and the Roseville area have been considered, which mainly involve determining which side of UPRR’s track right-of-way would accommodate the planned third track while keeping the optimal location for the Roseville station at its current location. The project team is evaluating the potential locations for layover facility/yard, within the vicinity of the station, which will not jeopardize the operation of the UPRR’s Roseville Yard. The CCJPA anticipates that a Notice of Preparation (NOP), which launches the environmental documentation, will be initiated in approximately April 2014. An extensive public participation will be launched along with the NOP. This public participation process includes meetings in the Roseville and Sacramento areas plus an extensive online presence with public tools and participation opportunities for people to interact with the project.
Oakland-San Jose Phase 2 Track Project. CCJPA staff is set to begin pre-development work with the selected consultant team. Initial work efforts include review of prior proposed projects, ridership and revenue analysis based on planned service increases to/from San Jose, and environmental screening of the proposed projects.
Outlook – Closing: Ridership for the Capitol Corridor for the first four months of FY2014 (October 2013-February 2014) is slightly below [-0.6%] FY2013 YTD and revenue is 3% below. Fuel expenses are slightly under budget; however, revenues are under projections, leading the system operating ratio to be at 50% rather than the forecasted 53%. Other key service performance sectors — on-time performance and customer satisfaction — are exceptional. UPRR has been able to meet its goal for OTP on the Capitol Corridor and monthly customer ratings of the service remain in the top five of the Amtrak system. Staff continues to work with Amtrak to develop scheduling options that will improve system performance for the Capitol Corridor [increased ridership/revenues, reduced operating costs] while keeping the operation of the trains safe, reliable and customer-focused.