August California Intercity Passenger Rail Performance

Reported by David B. Kutrosky, Managing Director, CCJPA

Performance continues to improve on the Capitol Corridor compared to monthly results from 2009.  In fact, ridership has increased each of the last 6 months, closing the gap on decreases earlier in the fiscal year.  August 2010 ridership was 138,739, a 5% increase over August 2009.  Revenue mirrored the ridership results with a 3% increase over August 2009.

On-time performance (OTP) remains superior with Capitol Corridor trains arriving at their endpoint stations on-time 96%, continuing to keep the Capitol Corridor as the nation’s OTP leader in the Amtrak system.  The Union Pacific Railroad (UPRR) continues its commitment to keeping the Capitol Corridor trains on schedule while managing the increased levels of rail freight traffic as the economy begins its slow recovery.

These positive ridership results occurred even though the Governor reinstated the three furlough Fridays per month in August. A primary reason for the ridership increase can be seen in the gains associated with the two running promotions on the Capitol Corridor – Seniors Ride Half-Off during the midday/mid-weekday trains and Kids Ride Free on Weekends (including Fridays).  We are starting to see increases among the diverse users of the Capitol Corridor trains – students, leisure trippers, business travelers, and youth/school groups. Another key element in retaining and gaining new riders is having the Capitol Corridor be the most reliable Amtrak route in the country.

The superior OTP continues for the Capitol Corridor primarily due to UPRR’s completion of the multi-year tie/track renewal program between San Jose and Auburn in March 2010.   Amtrak mechanical delays are decreasing as well which limits disruptions to the passengers and keeps the OTP above the 90% standard.  CCJPA transportation staff have reconvened a working group with the Coast Guard, UPRR, and Amtrak to better understand the delays associated with Benicia-Martinez drawbridge lifts.

While the deadline of June 30, 2010 for a state budget has passed and there appears to be no date set for adoption or enactment of a state budget for FY 10-11, the current contract for Amtrak’s operation of the Capitol Corridor service expires on September 30, 2010.  The CCJPA has reached agreement with Amtrak on the budget for the FY 10-11 operating contract, which is effective October 1, 2010 through September 30, 2011.   While the budget and contract are nearly complete, the FY 11 operating contract cannot be executed without an adopted state budget.

FY2010 FRA HSIPR Capital Grants
The CCJPA prepared and submitted grant applications to FRA on August 5, 2010 through Caltrans Rail.  The due date for applications was August 6, 2010. These FY2010 capital applications were due August 6 and required at least a 20% non-federal match.  The applications prepared by the CCJPA were:

  1. Donner Pass Phase 2 Project ($51.3 million with $10.3 million match from UPRR) that will allow an increase of service frequency between Sacramento and Auburn of one additional round trip
  2. Reliability improvements in Fremont and Newark ($20 million with $4 million in matching Prop 1A High Speed Train Connectivity funds).  These Fremont-Newark upgrades are part of an incremental program of improvements so that when all projects are complete, service can expand to 11 round trip trains to/from San Jose. FRA anticipates at the moment providing award announcements on these grant applications in late September or October.

In closing, with the economy showing sporadic signs of a slow recovery in Northern California, it is anticipated that Capitol Corridor service performance (ridership, revenue, OTP) should continue its positive results for the remainder of the fiscal year (ending September 30, 2010), which should close the gap between business plan projections and actual results.  The CCJPA will continue to work with our service partners to improve passenger safety, provide superior customer service and finish the fiscal year with strong results in service performance.

(Download:  August 2010 Performance Report)
Capitol Corridor (August 2010):

  • Ridership: 138,789 riders; +5.0% vs. Aug. 2009; -1.6% vs. prior YTD; -1.2% vs. FY10 YTD Plan
  • Revenue: +3.2% vs. Aug. 2009; +3.2% vs. prior YTD; -4.6% vs. FY10 YTD Plan
  • On-Time Performance: 96%, YTD OTP of 93% keeping the service #1 in the nation.
  • System Operating Ratio: 47% YTD vs. 47% in FY09; expenses stabilizing with revenue growing in concert with ridership increases.
  • The Capitol Corridor route still continues to be third busiest route in the country, with ridership at 1.58 million for the last 12 months

Pacific Surfliners (August 2010):

  • Ridership: 261,590 passengers; -0.7% vs. Aug. 2009, and +1.1% ahead of prior YTD; ridership exceeded Amtrak’s premier Acela service in Aug. 2010.
  • Ticket Revenue only: +4.6% vs. Aug. 2009, and +6.8% vs. prior YTD
  • On-time performance for Aug. 2010: 68% (YTD FY 2010 on-time performance: 77%)

San Joaquin (August 2010):

  • Ridership: 82,992 passengers -1.7% vs. Aug. 2009, and +5.4% vs. prior YTD; solidifying the San Joaquin as the fifth busiest corridor in Amtrak system.
  • Ticket Revenue only: +10.7% vs. Aug. 2009, and +12.3% vs. prior YTD
  • On-time performance for July 2010: 91% (YTD FY 2010 on-time performance: 91%); right behind Capitol Corridor as 2nd most reliable service in Amtrak system.
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