March California Intercity Passenger Rail Performance

Reported by David B. Kutrosky, Managing Director, CCJPA

For the first time in 13 months ridership for the Capitol Corridor increased compared to the same period in the prior year.  For March 2010 ridership increased 5.8% compared to March 2009. Most notable is this ridership reporting period included significant train service delays due to the second phase (February 22 – March 15, 2010) of the tie renewal program between San Pablo and Oakland.  While this ridership growth is welcomed, we shall continue to monitor ridership on a weekly basis.  From an initial evaluation, the greatest limitation in ridership growth is still the
on-going mandate of three (3) Friday furloughs per month for state government employees (which also impacts businesses, vendors, and service industries in the Capitol).

Revenues for March were slightly below projection (-2.9%) but above prior March (+4.0%) with YTD revenues even (0.0%) with last year.  To boost ridership and revenue in the discretionary travel market, we have begun marketing campaigns.  These campaigns will target mid-day travel (discounts for school groups and seniors) and restart of the Kids Ride Free on Weekends (now including Fridays).

The March On-Time Performance (OTP) was a substandard 86% and represents the first time in over 12 months that the service did not meet the monthly OTP standard of 90%.  The lower-than-standard OTP was due to the continuation of the Phase 2 tie-renewal program between San Pablo and Oakland for the first 15 days of March.  While OTP for the first 15 days of March 2010 was 75%, the UPRR bounced back quickly and for the remaining 16 days of the month the OTP for the Capitol Corridor trains was 95%.

With respect to the various gas tax swap proposals, on March 22, 2010 the Governor signed three interrelated bills (ABx8 6, ABx8 9, and SB 70), which included the Assembly’s plan to retain and increase (by 1.75%) the sales tax on diesel.  These enhanced diesel sales tax revenues would provide a steady stream of funds to local transit agencies and fully-fund the annual costs for the Capitol Corridor and other state Intercity Passenger Rail (IPR) services starting in FY 2012-13 (operations, staffing, marketing, and equipment renovations).  This enacted legislation will provide the CA IPR Program with operating funds for existing service levels plus planned service expansions.  Capital funding for the CA IPR Program from the state will be provided from prior voter-approved propositions (1A-High Speed Rail
and 1B-Infrastructure) plus limited annual programming from a reduced State Transportation Improvement Program (STIP) due to the enactment of gas tax swap legislative package.  Just as importantly, now California meets the
key mandates for the FRA’s FY2010 and future capital grants: (1) a commitment of state operating funds to support any current or future IPR services and (2) at least a 20% non-federal match via state funds from propositions 1A and 1B and/or the STIP .  Many thanks go to the transit-supportive Senate and Assemblymembers who worked diligently to
protect the state’s successful IPR Program.

(Download:  March 2010 Performance Report)

Capitol Corridor (March 2010):

  • Ridership: 133,987 riders; +5.8% vs. Mar 2009; -6.0% vs. prior YTD;
  • 3.9% vs. FY10 Plan; +2% annual growth compared to 2 years ago
  • Revenue: +4.0% vs. Mar 2009; +0.0% vs. prior YTD; -4.6% vs. FY10 Plan
  • On-Time Performance: Substandard result of 86%; yet  91% for YTD, keeping the service #1 in the nation for multi-frequency trains.  The reason for the lower-than-standard OTP was the continuation of the Phase 2 tie-renewal program between Richmond and Oakland for the first 15 days of March.  OTP for the remaining 16 days of the month the OTP for the Capitol Corridor trains was a stellar 95%
  • System Operating Ratio: 45% YTD vs. 47% in FY09; expenses are under control, revenue are slightly below plan
  • The Capitol Corridor route still continues to be third busiest route in the country, with ridership at 1.55 million for the last 12 months

Pacific Surfliners (March 2010):

  • Ridership: 217,534 passengers; +7.5% vs. Mar 2009, and even with prior YTD; second month with ridership increase over prior year month; remains second busiest route in the nation, by a wide margin.
  • Ticket Revenue only: +11.1% vs. Mar 2009, and +4.5% vs. prior YTD; excellent results due to ridership gains
  • On-time performance for Mar 2010:  78% (YTD FY 2010 on-time performance: 80%)

San Joaquins (March 2010):

  • Ridership: 80,406 passengers  +13.2% vs. Mar 2009, and +5.4% v.s prior YTD; routes continue its streak of positive growth compared to prior year months
  • Ticket Revenue only: +22.1%  vs. Mar 2009, and +7.5% vs. prior YTD
  • On-time performance for Mar 2010:  83%, (YTD FY 2010 on-time performance: 90%)
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