February 2015 marks the 11th consecutive month of ridership and revenue increases for the Capitol Corridor. 110,720 passengers rode the Capitol Corridor trains in February 2015, 6% above February 2014 ridership, with revenues up 5% compared to February 2014. Union Pacific Railroad continues to keep the railroad in a state-of-good repair and provide superior dispatching which yielded a 95% YTD On-time Performance (OTP) for February 2015. With a Year To-Date (YTD) OTP of 94%, the Capitol Corridor service continues to be the most reliable in the Amtrak system. With fuel prices continuing to be below budget, operating expenses in total are 3% below budget, pushing the YTD Operating Ratio to 52%, above the standard of 47%.
Using the most recent monthly detailed reports provided by Amtrak (January 2015), the following data is available for train and station segments:
- Ridership for weekday and weekend trains in February 2015 were up 7%, with continued growth to and from the Silicon Valley/San Jose.
- See the attached tables below for station city-pairs and station activity in January 2015.
- The embedded table shows the improvement in OTP for January 2015 [97%] when compared to the prior month’s OTP of 90% in December 2014.
FY 15-16 Draft State Budget
- CA Intercity Passenger Rail Operating Budget – The Governor’s Draft FY 2015-16 Budget provides the same amount of funding ($119 million) as the enacted FY 2014-15 budget for support of the operation on the three intercity passenger rail routes (San Joaquin, Pacific Surfliner, and Capitol Corridor). This budget may need to be revised based on Amtrak’s submittal of final FY 2015-16 operating (and ridership and revenue) estimates due in late March/early April 2015. Any revisions will be addressed in state legislative budget hearings and the Governor’s May Revise of the FY 2015-16 State Budget.
- Cap and Trade Auction Proceeds – The Governor’s Draft FY 2014-15 Budget conforms with SB 862 (enacted in 2014) which stipulates the appropriation of the projected proceeds from the Cap and Trade auctions to various programs. Specifically, the draft budget supplements the $25 million in the FY 14-15 budget for the Cap and Trade Transit/Intercity Rail Capital Program with an appropriation of $100 million in FY 2015-16 (based on 10% allocation from a projected $1 billion total FY 2015-16 Cap and Trade Program). The CCJPA plans to submit applications for a portion of the $125 million FY 2014-15 – FY 2015-16 Cap and Trade Transit/Intercity Rail Capital Program for projects that will improve the Capitol Corridor while meeting the key criteria of these Cap and Trade funds (Greenhouse Gas Reductions and benefits to Disadvantaged Communities).
Select Committee on Passenger Rail (Senate and Assembly)
The Assembly has established a Select Committee on Passenger Rail Staff to be chaired by Assemblymember Adam Gray, and the Senate reauthorized the Senate Select Committee on Passenger Rail, which will continue to be chaired by State Senator Hannah-Beth Jackson. Both chairs recently released a notice that there will be a Joint Hearing of these two Select Committees on Tuesday, April 28 (3pm – 5pm, location to be determined). The intent of the hearing is to capitalize on principles previously approved by Senate Select Committee to promote the need for investment growth (from state and federal and local funds) to (1) maintain and continue the success of the state’s IPR services, and (2) ensure that investment also supports an integrated network with the other passenger rail services in the State – commuter rail and the planned HST system.
Reauthorization of PRIIA and Amtrak
On March 3, 2015, the House passed the bipartisan legislation – The Passenger Rail Reform and Investment Act of 2015, or PRRIA (H.R. 749), that was previously introduced and passed by Transportation and Infrastructure (T&I) Committee. PRRIA seeks to improve the infrastructure, reduce costs, create greater accountability and transparency for state-supported Amtrak-operated services, leverage private sector resources, and accelerate project delivery for Amtrak and the nation’s passenger rail transportation system. The same legislation was introduced last year (HR 5449) in the House, and the Committee approved it unanimously. The U.S. Senate is in the process of developing its version of a passenger/freight rail authorization bill.
Customer Service Program Upgrades:
- Bicycle Access Program: To supplement the current program (initiated by CCJPA and Amtrak) to provide two cars with extra bicycle capacity on selected trainsets, the CCJPA is now proceeding to enter into contracts to
install bicycle eLockers at 13 of the 17 Capitol Corridor stations. (Exceptions being those joint Capitol Corridor/BART stations and Caltrain stations, which already have bike lockers.) The eLocker installation will take approximately one year and will begin in spring 2015. Once eLockers gain momentum, the CCJPA will begin implementing a folding bicycle lease program to further reduce on-train bicycle crowding and encourage more convenient and safe Capitol Corridor bicycle travel as the first/last-mile portion of the trip.
- Improvements to CCJPA Train Status Feature on Website: A vendor is now under contract to implement upgrades to the train status feature on the CCJPA website and mobile app. CCJPA staff is awaiting Amtrak resources to establish a data stream to the CCJPA website. Testing will be underway in late spring, and it is anticipated that implementation will happen by June 2015.
- New Passenger Fare Discounts: Capitol Corridor has now introduced three fare discounts aimed at increasing off-peak ridership. The fare discounts are as follows: Take 5 for weekend and holiday weekend travel, Friends & Family small group discount available every day, and a senior Midweek discount available Tuesday through Thursday. Marketing and advertising for these discounts will begin in March 2015.
- Security Cameras at Capitol Corridor Stations: Funding is currently being secured to install cameras and surveillance equipment at the Auburn, Rocklin, Roseville, Suisun, Martinez, Emeryville, Oakland Jack London, and Fremont stations.
- Positive Train Control Update: Installation of the PTC equipment on the state-owned equipment is currently complete for the Northern California intercity rail fleet (supporting the Capitol Corridor and San Joaquin trains), with all locomotives and cab cars equipped except for the installation of cabling for PTC radio antennas on the locomotives. Once the state-owned equipment is fully equipped, Capitol Corridor trainsets will be tested for interoperability with Caltrain’s PTC system, which is expected to be installed and ready for testing in mid- to late-2015.
- Station and Platform Safety Upgrades. The CCJPA staff will have Amtrak survey stations along the Capitol Corridor route and identify those stations requiring safety upgrades at the platforms. The improvements include: replacing broken platform tactile edges, repainting tactile edges, restriping yellow safety lines along the main platform, repainting safety text along main platform, and installing safety signs. Work has been completed at a number of stations; the similar safety upgrades are underway at: Santa Clara/Great America, Hayward, Oakland Coliseum, Richmond, Suisun-Fairfield, Roseville, and Auburn stations. Work at these stations will be completed in spring 2015. CCJPA staff met with the City of Davis staff in early March 2015 to determine which additional safety improvements can be implemented at this station, and the parties will begin to identify the review and funding requirements to advance safety projects at this station.
- Project Updates
CCJPA Oakland-San Jose Phase 2 Project: The engineering and environmental consultants working for CCJPA on this project have completed initial survey data gathering and are in the process of assembling the base maps for use in the design process. The CCJPA has also consulted with UPRR regarding upgrades to the track infrastructure adjacent to and serving the Great America/Santa Clara station that can be completed in time to serve the Levi’s Stadium for Super Bowl 50 (February 6, 2016).
- Sacramento to Roseville 3rd Track Environmental Review/Preliminary Engineering: The CCJPA is on target for a November 2015 adoption of the required California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) adoption of an Environmental Impact Report (EIR) for this project which will add capacity to allow up to 10 round trips per day to/from Roseville. The National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) environmental documentation is required to be completed by the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA). The current schedule plans for a release of the draft version of these two environmental documents in July 2015 for public review and comment. In addition, there will be at least two public sessions to receive comments on the draft documents.
Outlook – Closing
The Capitol Corridor train continue to perform above business plan projections through the first five months of FY 2015 with actual results exceeding all performance standards (ridership, system operating ratio, and OTP), keeping the Capitol Corridor the 3rd busiest route in ridership and most reliable in the Amtrak system. The CCJPA will carry this momentum forward in the state budget planning season with the adoption of the FY 2015-16 – FY 2016-17 Business Plan Update and with its application(s) to secure Cap and Trade revenues dedicated to state transit/intercity passenger rail services.
As mentioned in previous reports, the CCJPA and various passenger rail organizations are partnering to host the 3rd annual California Passenger Rail Summit. In 2015, this event will be held in Sacramento with an evening welcome reception on Tuesday, April 28 and a full-day program on Wednesday, April 29. We are pleased to announce that Dan Richard, Chair of the CA High Speed Rail Authority Board, Karen Hedlund, former FRA Deputy Administrator, and Chad Edison, Deputy Secretary of California State Transportation Agency are confirmed speakers at this event with an invitation to Secretary Brain Kelly of the California State Transportation Agency. Please see www.californiapassengerrailsummit.com for details.
DAVID B. KUTROSKY
Capitol Corridor Joint Powers Authority