Capitol Corridor JPB June Meeting Report

Reported by Bruce Jenkins, RailPAC Director

The Capitol Corridor Joint Powers Board met in Suisun City Hall on June 18, 2008.

The Board approved the “Interregional Improvement Program” consisting of four projects, e.g. Yolo Causeway west crossover, CP Coast-Great America double tracking (Santa Clara), Capitalized maintenance, and Hercules Station, to be funded from the 2008 State Transportation Improvement Program – Interregional Improvement Program (STIP-IIP), totaling $25.5 million with $11.5 million in matching funds, based on the May 14, 2008 revision of the Gov’s Draft Budget for FY 08-09. The Yolo Causeway Project is most desireable now, as it will reduce running times, improve reliability and increase capacity.

The Board also approved the FRA FY Intercity Rail Apllication-San Jose-Newark Track Improvement Program. The federal transportation budget for FY 08 included for the first time ever, a matching program for intercity passenger rail capital projects. These federal grants total (a stipend) $30 million and will be administered in a competitive process by the FRA. The first phase will be the addition of a 4th track at San Jose- Diridon Station. This project will provide track and station upgrades to improve passenger access and train storage capacity.

Completion of these projects is an incremental step toward keeping CCJPA’s vision plan goals of achieving 16 round trips between Oakland and San Jose. At present CC train service is at 7 round trips (Oakland- San Jose).

Within the Governor’s Draft FY ’08-’09 Budget, the Gov. proposes to fully fund Prop 42 at $1.43 bil. It is surmised that the administration did not suspend Prop 42 because it deemed that the “state cannot achieve budgetary savings” with suspension since the amount would have to be repaid in 3 yrs with interest.

$83 mil of spillover funds will be used to make Prop 42 loan payments to the Traffic Congestion Relief Program (TCRP) from transfers that occurred to the General Fund during FY’s ’03-04 and ’04-’05.

In the Public Transportation Account (PTA) is $106 mil. This includes the basic Amtrak operating costs ($86 mil) which is $6 mil above the current (FY ’08) contract for all 3 of the intercity rail services to account for increased Amtrak labor and fuel costs. There is a reduction of $1.42 bil from the PTA to:

  • a. continue transportation services administered by regional occupational centers ($141 m)
  • b. pay bond debt ($607 m)
  • c. cover home-to-school transportation ($593 m)
  • d. repay TCRP for loans from the General Fund ($83 m)
  • In the Legislative Budget Subcommittee Hearings both houses have held hearings and responded to the Gov’s further decreases in PTA funding. The Assembly Budget Subcommittee #5 approved action to increase PTA funds to the State Transit Assistance (STA) at $623.7 m. The Senate Budget Subcommittee #4 restored funding to the STA at $494 m and then dedicated $129 m to Caltrans for transit capital projects in the STIP amoung other things. Neither the Gov nor the Assembly proposed any funds for transit capital STIP projects in this years budget. Therefore, these items will be headed to the Budget Conference Committee where conferees from both houses will choose allocation amounts for the STA ($623.7 m or $494 m ) and additional Caltrans funding ($129 m or $0). The CCJPA does not recieve STA funds.

    The Gov proposes that $4.7 b in PROP 1B bond allocations, of which the following affect the CC and other intercity rail services:

  • $73 m for Intercity Rail, which supplements the current (FY 08) $187 m appropriation.
  • $101 m for Transit Security (approx $2 m for CCJPA), which is the same as the current (FY 08) appropriation.
  • There is $1.1 Bil in STIP funding. This represents a $1 Bil reduction in funding from ’07-’08 ($2.1 Bil). The Gov cites a downturn in gas consumption (reduced gas taxes) plus statutory changes to spillover and the PTA in general thru the passage of SB 79 and SB 717 as an underlying reason.

    Budget hearings are being conducted by the Legislature that will amend and adjust the Gov’s revised budget and CCJPB staff is working withe legislators who are supportive of the Capitol Corridor and the state’s intercity rail program to ensure that Prop 1B Intercity Rail Account and other state transportation (PTA) funds are allocated as intended.

    Executive Director Gene Skoropowski personally accompianed Division of Finance personnel riding trains thruout the system to better acquant them regarding ridership levels. Skoropowski and DoR are both working very hard to get funds for rolling stock to be released. “The money is there”.

    Ridership, revenue and OTP are soaring ( as we see in the Skoropwski reports posted on RailPAC.org). Union Pacific is sustaining it’s best-ever performnce for 8 consecutive months, even though the track work under way currently is causing delays to several trains and suspension of others.

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