September 2008 – Capitol Corridor and California Ridership & Revenue

The growth continues!

California and the entire country continues “getting on board the train!”While it is a bit surprising that none of our national candidates for office seem to focus on passenger rail investments, and the mobility, jobs and economic stimulus such investments bring, as more and more Americans step on-board trains, maybe the message will get through that there is an opportunity here for a major investment program that creates jobs HERE, and provides a permanent transport service to our people that cannot be ‘off-shored’.

In any case, the ridership and revenue results for the month of September 2008 (the last month of the Federal Fiscal Year) are remarkable in their consistency, even at a time when gasoline prices actually came down. Ridership numbers did NOT come down, but rather continued their increase. Hopefully, political leaders will begin to recognize the popularity of passenger trains with the American people, and their willingness to fund a
national passenger rail system.  OK, enough of the soap-boxing.  Here are the results.

The Capitol Corridor sustained its “best-ever on-time performance” in September (at 93.8% on-time, delivered to the riders) and was the best on-time record in the nation of any Amtrak-operated service with more than one-round trip per day, and even then, only the Auto Train and Vermonter had a slightly better on-time record.  Union Pacific Railroad’s performance (the owner of the railroad over which the Capitol Corridor operates, and dispatcher of our trains) is about 99% on-time for the Capitol Corridor, again, better than any other Amtrak service, including Amtrak’s own Northeast Corridor services.

Capitol Corridor (September 2008):

144,747 passengers   +24.7%  vs. 2007
This is a new September record, and keeps the Capitol Corridor third busiest route in the country, by a wide margin
Passengers for 12 months of FY 2007-08: 1,693,580, just 6,420 passengers shy of 1.7 million riders. (12 months of FY 2007-08: +16.6%)
Just for comparison, 10 years ago, FY 1997-98, ridership was only 463,000 for the year!

$1,953,836  September revenue  +27.9% vs. 2007  (FY 2007-08: $23,634,341 for +22.0% growth)

The farebox recovery revenue-to-cost ratio for September is 56.7%, and the revenue-to-cost ratio for FY 2007-08 is 54.4%, the best full year recovery ratio in the history of the Capitol Corridor.

On-time performance for September was even better at: 93.8% (a Capitol Corridor ‘record high’ for service reliability) FY 2007-08 on-time performance delivered to the customers is 86.0%, among the best in the country.  Only the Keystone Corridor (NY-Philadephia-Harrisburg) and the Hiawatha Corridor (Chicago-Milwaukee) have slightly better on-time stats.  For comparison, the premier Acela Express service on the Northeast Corridor was 92.8% on-time for September and 84.5% for the fiscal year.  Northeast Regional service operated at 78.7% on-time in September, and 75.8% for the fiscal year.

Again, not since we went from 6 trains each way to 9 trains each way (back in 2000-01) have we seen ridership growth like we have seen since July. Union Pacific Railroad continues to deliver for us.  UPRR performance in September was a record 99%, and UPRR performance for the fiscal year is averaging close to 96%, the best performance of any Amtrak-operated intercity passenger rail service in the country, whether Amtrak-dispatched or freight railroad dispatched.
Pacific Surfliners (September 2008):

215,497 passengers  +1.7% vs. September 2007, but still the second busiest route in the nation, by a wide margin Passengers for the 12 months of the FY 2007-08:  2,898,859  (12 months FY 2007-08: +7.1%)

$3,681,986 September revenue:  -0.5%% vs. 2007 (FY 2007-08: $51,010,624 for +9.0% growth)

On-time performance for September: 78.7% FY 2007-08 on-time performance:  76.1%

San Joaquins (September 2008):

75,844 passengers  +15.2% vs. September 2007 Passengers for 12 months of the FY 2007-08:  949,611  (12 months FY 2007-08: +18.0%)

$2,401,289  September revenue:  +50.8%  vs. 2007  (FY 2007-08:  $29,847,468 for +19.6% growth)

On-time performance for September:  85.0% FY 2007-08 on-time performance: 82.6%

Total California Intercity Corridor Ridership for September 2008:  436,138

Total Northeast Corridor ‘Spine’ ridership for September 2008:    885,577
For September 2008, the California Corridors are 49.3% of Northeast
Corridor ‘Spine’ Boston-Washington ridership

Total Northeast Corridor ridership for September 2008 with branches to Springfield, MA; Albany, NY and Harrisburg, PA:  1,094,597
For September 2008, the California Corridors are 39.8% of the total Northeast Corridor


Eugene K. Skoropowski
Managing Director
Capitol Corridor Joint Powers Authority