Capitol Corridor Monthly Report (March, 2014) April 23rd, 2014
David B. Kutrosky, Managing Director
Capitol Corridor Joint Powers Authority
Service Performance Overview
In March 2014, both ridership and revenue for the Capitol Corridor were below last year’s March- results by 1.7% and 3.5% respectively. A total of 118,518 passengers rode Capitol Corridor trains in March 2014. The ridership decrease was primarily due to the fact that Easter fell at the end of March in 2013 (compared to mid-April this year) and because of residual night-time track work performed by Union Pacific Railroad (UPRR) between Richmond and Martinez. This track work required substituting the two last weekday trains (#548 and #551) with buses between Oakland and Sacramento and was completed in mid-March instead of February as originally planned.
Despite the track upgrade program, On-Time Performance (OTP) was an admirable 95%, resulting in a year-to-date (YTD) OTP of 95%, which keeps the Capitol Corridor on top of the leader board in the Amtrak system. The Capitol Corridor Joint Powers Authority (CCJPA) extends our appreciation to UPRR for performing this much needed state-of-good repair work at night instead of midday, which would have meant running fewer trains, potentially resulting in larger ridership losses.
The operating ratio was 57% in March 2014; however, the YTD ratio is at 51%, below the expected 53% due to YTD revenues being below projection.
The CCJPA continues to address ridership losses at specific stations and trains in the following ways:
· Trains serving Placer County stations (one in each direction): In
meetings with local transit bus agencies in Placer County, we’ve
identified challenges in coordinating schedules and fares with the
one Capitol Corridor train to/from Sacramento. Staff is currently
working with Amtrak on various fare plans to address these
· Sacramento station: At a second meeting at the site in late March, we
identified potential near-term parking locations that are closer to
the station than the existing ones. The group will be sure to
develop such plans in conjunction with Sacramento Regional Transit’s
efforts to relocate the current light-rail platform closer to the
· 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. Despite this schedule change, March 2014 weekend
ridership was 4% below March 2013 weekend counts. This was, however,
only the first full month with this new schedule. We will continue to
review how the weekend trains perform throughout the summer and
possibly make adjustments in July/August 2014 in conjunction with the
opening of the new Levi’s/49ers Stadium near the Santa Clara/Great
FY2015 Amtrak Operating Forecast Budget
On March 31, 2014, the CCJPA received the forecast from Amtrak for the FY2015 Capitol Corridor operating budget. The total budget (which includes an equipment capital charge for the use of Amtrak locomotives used on the corridor) is $32.264 million versus $29.331 million in the FY2014 operating contract, an increase of $2.933 million primarily due to $2.745 million in
lower forecast revenues and $0.275 million for the Amtrak locomotive usage fee. Operating expenses remain relatively flat for FY2015 versus FY2014 budgeted expenses. Over the next couple of months, the CCJPA will be working with Amtrak to make operational changes (e.g. consist sizing, revised train schedules) to increase revenues and/or reduce operating costs. These efforts will also involve Caltrans, which manages the other two California Intercity Passenger Rail (CIPR) services, as well as the California State Transportation Agency (CalSTA), which will be allocating the state funds to the CCJPA for the operation, marketing, and administration of the Capitol Corridor IPR service.
Cap and Trade Revenue Proposals: Investment in the CIPR Services The Governor’s Draft FY2014-15 budget includes $300 million in revenues from Cap and Trade auction proceeds for the Rail Modernization Program. The $300 million 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 Assembly Member Bloom (Chair of the Budget Subcommittee #3) and Senator Beall (Chair of the Budget Subcommittee #2) stating that the $50 million available to over 13 eligible rail transit services/agencies is unlikely to provide significant tangible benefits, and that the FY2014-15 Rail Modernization Program account should be increased tenfold, to $500 million from Cap and Trade revenues. The increased account could be distributed using a programmatic formula that is fair and equitable and would provide 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.
Select Committee on Passenger Rail (Senate and Assembly)
The Select Committee had its first hearing on March 19, 2014. Positive feedback was received from those in attendance, as well as those who participated. Speakers included CalSTA Secretary Brian Kelly; Caltrans Director Malcolm Dougherty; the readership/chairs and vice chairs of the CIPR agencies; Metrolink and ACE executives; members of the RailPAC advocacy group;, and members of the public, including riders from the CIPR trains. A key theme throughout the hearing was the need for a steady, reliable, and sustained capital/operating funding source to support the continued success of the three existing CIPR services, which represent three of five busiest Amtrak routes, and to allow for the implementation of emerging IPR corridor services in the Central Coast and Inland Empire. A second hearing is planned later in the spring (perhaps May).
Customer Service Program Upgrades
· CCJPA Bicycle Access Program: A key element of CCJPA’s Bicycle Access
Plan, the retrofitting of cab cars to increase bike storage in the
Northern California fleet, has been completed. Before the Bicycle
Access Program can be fully launched however, each of these cab cars
must be installed with Positive Train Control hardware, which is
scheduled for completion in June 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 the first (and
last?) position of each weekday train consist, nearly doubling the
storage capacity (from 15 to 29 spaces) for bikes on each train. For
at-station bicycle amenities, which are also part of the Bicycle
Access Plan, 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.
· Bike to Work Activities: Capitol Corridor is supporting a variety of
Bike to Work Day activities this year. Our participation reinforces
Capitol Corridor’s larger efforts to improve the connectivity between
bicycling and ridership on Capitol Corridor trains and encourage
weekend and midweek ridership among bicyclists who might otherwise
need to drive to their bicycling destinations. Our plans for
participation include: Sponsorship of 2013-14 Chinook Book coupon
book and mobile app being distributed at downtown Oakland’s Energizer
Station all day on May 8; cross-promotion of Bay Area Bike Month
events via social media, the website, and CC Rail Mail; participation
in downtown Sacramento’s Bike Fest the morning of May 8; partnership
with Yolo County Convention & Visitors Bureau – Capitol Corridor will
sponsor an expected 50 to 100 one-way train trips from Davis to
Sacramento in partnership with the Yolo County Convention & Visitors
Bureau; Tour de Cluck – Capitol Corridor will help promote (via
social media primarily) this unique Sacramento biking event that
involves biking to local chicken coops; update of bike page and more
prominent positioning of the page on the Capitol Corridor website;
and creation of a Spoke n’ Word blog post focusing on Bike Month
events within Capitol Corridor’s service area.
· 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 (~85% complete). The
completion date has slipped from April to early June 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 May at the Davis station. This work
was originally planned to start a few weeks earlier, but was delayed
due to early April rainstorms and the need to secure railroad safety
workers to protect workers within the railroad right-of-way and at
the station platforms.
· Sacramento to Roseville Third Track Environmental Review/Preliminary
Engineering: The project team reached agreement on the alignment of
the planned third track and the selection of the location of the
Roseville station and the layover facility at its current location.
They are now proceeding with the release of a Notice of Preparation
(NOP), which launches the environmental documentation, in May 2014.
Extensive public participation will be included in the NOP, with
meetings in the Roseville and Sacramento areas, plus an extensive
online presence with public tools and participation opportunities for
people to provide feedback on the project.
· Oakland-San Jose Phase 2 Track Project. CCJPA staff is set to begin
pre-development work with the selected consultant team. Initial
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 in the first half of FY2014 (October 2013-March 2014) is slightly below [-0.8%] FY2013 ridership during the same period, and revenue trails by 3% . While fuel expenses and other costs are slightly under budget, the ridership decline has resulted in greater losses in revenues, contributing to a system operating ratio of 51% rather than the forecasted 53%. Other key service performance metrics — on-time performance and customer satisfaction — are #1 and #5 in the Amtrak system. UPRR has been able to meet its goal for OTP on the Capitol Corridor and are rightly receiving their OTP incentive payments. 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.
CIPR leaders will continue to work with Senator Jackson and other legislators, as well as the Governor’s agencies to ensure that the Capitol Corridor and other successful CIPR services receive their fair share of the proposed Cap and Trade revenues for investment in projects to enhance and improve the efficiency and operation of services, while also helping to meet the state’s clean air goals and implement sustainable community strategies.