Reported by David B. Kutrosky, Managing Director
Capitol Corridor Joint Powers Authority
Service Performance Overview
For the third consecutive month, ridership increased on the Capitol Corridor over 2013. In June 2014, a total of 116,605 passengers rode Capitol Corridor trains, representing a 1.7% increase compared to June 2013. Revenues continue to be above prior year-month results, with a 1.9% increase over June 2013. Year to-date (YTD) Operating Ratio remained at 52%, slightly below the business plan standard of 53% due to revenues being 7.3% below budget projections. YTD On-time Performance (OTP) remains a superb 96%, maintaining Capitol Corridor’s distinction as the most reliable service in the Amtrak system.
The following are ridership highlights from June 2014:
· Weekend ridership was up by 4% over weekend ridership in June 2013. This is attributed to the re-introduction of the Take 5 (small group/family) online fare promotion.
· Weekday ridership was flat/unchanged compared to June 2013.
· Shown at the bottom of this report are tables listing the top 25 city pairs for May 2014 and YTD FY2014 (Amtrak’s detailed station data is currently only available through May 2014)
A revised weekend train schedule that rearranges trains into and out of San Jose to better serve events at Levi’s Stadium will go into effect on July 28, 2014.
FY2014-15 State Budget
A. FY2014-15 State-Supported Contract Budget for CA Intercity Passenger Rail Services
When the Governor signed into law the State Budget Act of 2014, it included $119 million to support the operation of the three California Intercity Passenger Rail (CIPR) services (San Joaquin, Capitol Corridor and Pacific Surfliner) in FY2015. This represents a $10 million increase over the CIPR operating budget of $108.9 million in FY2014 and were effectuated through the actions of the budget subcommittees in the Assembly and Senate that independently approved the $10 million increase in their respective state budget hearings and associated bills.
B. Cap-and-Trade Auction Revenues to Transportation/CIPR Services
More importantly, the enactment of the State Budget Act of 2014 marked a monumental shift towards investing in transportation to achieve the state’s clean air goals and help communities implement their sustainability strategies.
Legislators specified spending priorities for the FY2014-15 budget year as well as future-year revenues from the proceeds of auctions from the Air Resources Board’s Cap and Trade program. The CCJPA has been actively working with the California Transit Association (CTA) and other interested parties for more than two years on dedicating a significant portion of these funds to transit projects and services that reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions.
The Cap and Trade Expenditure Program from the budget bill and a series of “trailer bills” will be implemented in the current budget year (2014-15) appropriation, with fixed dollar amounts going to specified programs. In 2015-16 and thereafter, specified programs will receive set percentages of annual Cap and Trade proceeds.
Budget Year Plan (2014-15)
· $25 million for Transit Operations or Capital: Local distribution using State Transit Assistance (STA) formula, subject to ARB guidelines and Caltrans sign-off.
· $25 million for Transit Capital or Operations: State competitive distribution for bus transit and commuter and intercity and urban light rail services. (also per ARB guidelines).
· $130 million for Sustainable Communities and Housing: Competitive program through State’s Strategic Growth Council for sustainable communities projects and services, such as Transit/Active Transportation Program/Transit Oriented Development, are eligible.
· $200 million for Low-Carbon Transportation (including Zero-Emission Buses).
· $250 million for High-Speed Rail
· $242 million for a variety of Energy, Water, Waste Diversion and Weatherization programs.
Long-Term Plan (2015-16+++)
· 5% pot for Transit Operations or Capital: Local distribution using STA formula, subject to ARB guidelines and Caltrans sign-off.
· 10% for Transit Capital or Operations: State competitive distribution for bus transit, and commuter and intercity and urban light rail services ( also per ARB guidelines).
· 20% pot for Affordable Housing and Sustainable Communities: Competitive program through State’s Strategic Growth Council for affordable housing and sustainable communities projects and services, such as Transit/Active Transportation Program/Transit Oriented Development, are eligible; a minimum of half these funds must be used for affordable housing.
· 25% for High-Speed Rail.
· 40% for Energy, Low-Carbon Trans, Water, Waste Diversion, and Weatherization. This program does not have funding splits and is subject to annual appropriation by the Legislature.
While the CCJPA and our transit partners would have preferred a larger share of funds to go directly to transit operators and CIPR agencies on a formula basis, a dedicated funding stream for capital projects is now available equal to 10% of incoming revenues from the Cap and Trade auction proceeds starting in FY2015-16 and into the near future.
Much of the credit goes to the collaborative efforts of the CIPR agencies working with the California Transit Association (CTA) to develop a strategy for justifying the investment of Cap and Trade revenues that included CIPR services which culminated in a direct allocation of 10% of these revenues to a competitive grant program available to CIPR agencies for capital projects that meet soon-to-be-developed program guidelines. CIPR services would also be eligible for Cap-and-Trade-funded Sustainable Communities sub-account funds along with the other transit agencies.
Customer Service Program Upgrades
• CCJPA Bicycle Access Program: With the retrofitting of the 8300-series cab cars in the Northern California fleet for added bicycle storage and the installation of Positive Train Control hardware completed in May 2014, most Capitol Corridor weekday trainsets have two (2) cars with enhanced bike storage, nearly doubling the bike capacity on these trains.
Caltrans Rail is about to initiate a program of modifications for HVAC and flooring in all first-generation bi-level rail cars, which means that it will be approximately 36 months before CCJPA will be able to consistently have two bicycle cars on each trainset. The rotation cycle of the equipment will mean that some of the trains with higher bicycle use will have, at times, less than optimal bicycle storage capacity. The at-station bicycle facilities are one step closer to receiving the state funding allocated to install e-lockers and folding bicycle lease systems and are on track for launch in 2015.
• Improvements to CCJPA Website and Automated Interactive Voice Response System: A vendor has been selected to implement upgrades and revisions to the CCJPA website and the automated interactive response (IVR) system. Once a vendor is formally under contract, it is anticipated that these updates will be done in six to eight weeks.
• Safety Fences: Construction has been completed on a total of 15,802 feet of fencing that has been constructed along the Capitol Corridor Route in several locations including West Sacramento, Sacramento, Suisun, Oakland, and Hayward.
• Security Cameras at Capitol Corridor Stations: With initial engineering design complete, installation will begin for camera and surveillance equipment at the Auburn, Rocklin, Roseville, Suisun, Martinez, Emeryville, Oakland Jack London, and Fremont stations.
• Positive Train Control: While the first launch of Positive Train Control (PTC) continues towards final implementation in Southern California, the Union Pacific Railroad (UPRR) is studying the possibility of beginning an initial phase where both PTC equipped and non-PTC equipped trains would operate over the Capitol Corridor route together, as a way of testing the system. Installation of the PTC equipment on the state-owned equipment is currently complete with all locomotives and cab cars equipped.
• Platform Safety Upgrades: CCJPA and Amtrak staff have begun a program of safety access upgrades at selected Capitol Corridor train stations, which include, but are not limited to, replacing broken platform tactile edges, repainting platform tactile edges, restriping yellow safety lines along the main platform, repainting safety text along platforms, and installing safety signs. After the Davis station (completed in May 2014), upgrades to the Suisun, Roseville and Fremont-Centerville stations were completed in June 2014. The next stations to receive safety upgrades are Berkeley, Great America/Santa Clara, Hayward, Oakland-Coliseum, Richmond and Auburn.
· Sacramento to Roseville 3rd-Track Environmental Review/Preliminary Engineering: This project is officially in the environmental review process which started with the July 1, 2014 release of the Notice of Preparation (NOP). On July 16 and 17, 2014, two public scoping meetings will be held in the Sacramento and Roseville area, respectively, as well as via an online, to provide a forum for commenting on the project. Two additional on-train scoping meetings will be held on July 23 on train 536 and on July 24 on train 529. Additional opportunities for public input will be provided in fall 2014 and at future steps in the environmental documentation process.
· Oakland-San Jose Phase 2 Track Project: Staff continues its negotiations with UPRR regarding the precise project mix relative to support the increased frequency of Capitol Corridor trains to/from San Jose (up to 11 daily round-trip trains). These discussions are supported by California State Transportation Agency (CalSTA), which is responsible for the State Rail Modernization, which includes the Capitol Corridor service. Geographically, the Oakland to San Jose Phase 2 Projects can be split into northern and southern sections – southern projects between Newark and San Jose, and northern projects between Fremont and Oakland. Generally, the intent of these projects is to add a second track to the single-track segments in each section. A first segment is being explored that will attempt to ensure that key modifications are made around the Great America station to accommodate the expected demand for sporting and entertainment events at the new Levi’s Stadium.
Outlook – Closing
With three quarters of FY2014 complete, Capitol Corridor ridership is now even with the FY2013 YTD results, and the gap in revenue decreases has been slowly shrinking, with revenues trailing last year by only 1.7%. Despite these lower revenue results, the YTD Operating Ratio is 52%, only slightly below the FY2014 goal of 53% (due to operating expenses that are lower than budget). Customer satisfaction (per Amtrak’s monthly mail-in surveys) remains equal to last year’s results, and Capitol Corridor remains in the top five in the Amtrak system. OTP continues to be a bright spot, with YTD reliability of 96% (best in the nation and in the history of the service).
Now that the Legislature and the Governor have fully endorsed the investment of Cap and Trade auction revenues for CIPR services in the FY2015 budget and subsequent years, there is a path towards continuous, sustained capital funding for the Capitol Corridor. The program will be highly competitive with the other CIPR and transit services in the state, and each CCJPA project will require justification based on program guidelines that have not yet been developed.
That being said, staff will be working with our service and funding partners to put forward a program of improvements that will meet the CCJPA’s service expansion goals (to San Jose and to Roseville) and will maximize safety and efficiency, while also helping to meet the State’s clean air goals and advance the implementation of sustainable community strategies.