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GET ON BOARD! WITH DAVID KUTROSKY

Fans Enjoy “Traffic-less” Ride to 49ers Pre-Season Opener

Date August 19, 2014

 

Fans at Levi's StadiumThere was a sea of red on Sunday, August 17, at the Santa Clara/Great America Station as football fans poured off the morning Capitol Corridor trains from Auburn and Sacramento to see the “red and gold” in action for the first time at the new stadium. Capitol Corridor ridership on Sunday was brisk, carrying approximately 700 fans to and from the much-anticipated game. About a third started in Sacramento, although passengers were getting on at every station along the way, with Martinez having the second highest number of boardings.

Capitol Corridor’s Transportation Officer, Hubert Hanrahan, was on the train himself and met plenty of satisfied customers. “Folks on the train seemed to really enjoy the ride, and I heard lots of positive comments,” he said. “Everyone was in good spirits.” The media picked up on the positive vibe as well. See this report on KXTV News10 in Sacramento.

Speaking of spirits, Capitol Corridor is the only transit option to the stadium that sells alcohol, so train-riding fans could not only avoid the hassles of traffic and parking, but also get a jump start on tailgating. Once at the station, it’s an easy five-minute walk to the stadium entrance. Capitol Corridor is offering 25% off train travel to and from the Santa Clara/Great America Station to make the ride both enjoyable and affordable.

If you went to the game on Sunday, we’d love to know about your experience. Email us your feedback at trains@capitolcorridor.org.

Apology to Riders for Extensive Delays Experienced on Capitol Corridor Trains Monday, July 7, 2014

Date July 7, 2014

 

On the morning of July 7, 2014, the Union Pacific Railroad tracks were closed between Rodeo, CA and Crockett, CA so that staff and an inspector could clear debris that had fallen onto the tracks from a tunnel in the early morning and inspect the tracks to ensure safe train movements.

Unfortunately, this occurred during peak travel hours on Monday morning after a holiday weekend. I apologize for the delays this incident caused to many of the morning passengers, and I appreciate your patience as the railroad worked to restore regular service.

With safety being our highest priority, it was important to hold trains at the nearest stations until we were given proper clearance and authorization to move trains through the affected area. In some cases, we were able to receive mutual aid from our partner transit agencies to move affected passengers around the impacted section of the railroad.

We will be working with Amtrak and Union Pacific Railroad to perform a “lessons learned” from this incident to determine if there were other actions we could have taken to minimize delays to passengers, while still ensuring that proper safety protocols were being followed to protect employees and passengers of the Capitol Corridor.

Once again, I apologize for the delays you experienced this morning. This is not how you (or I) want to start to the week.  Please know that incidents like this are very infrequent and uncommon along the route, and we place your safety and security as Job #1 for the Capitol Corridor team. For these reasons, we took the extra effort this morning to clear the tracks and perform the necessary inspections to ensure the expected safe and reliable operation of the Capitol Corridor trains.

Thank you for your understanding. We greatly appreciate your patronage and loyalty.

Sincerely,

David B. Kutrosky

April 2014 Service Performance Overview

Date May 15, 2014

 

For April 2014, both ridership and revenue for the Capitol Corridor were above last year’s April results, with 3.2% and 1.5% growth respectively. Capitol Corridor trains carried a total of 126,831 passengers in April 2014, with revenues of $2.44 million. The primary reason for the ridership increase was that the Easter holiday this year fell in mid-April, versus late March in 2013. Comparing ridership for the combined months of March and April 2014 to the same period in 2013 shows a slight increase of 1%. This is a positive indicator, but it’s still too early to determine if this trend will continue.

On-Time Performance (OTP) was again a stand out at 96%, which equates to a year-to-date (YTD) OTP of 96%. This excellent OTP maintains the Capitol Corridor’s distinction as the most reliable intercity passenger rail (IPR) service in the Amtrak system.

The night-time tie renewal and replacement program that occurred from late January to early March 2014 was a success, with the lowest Host Railroad delay minutes among all IPR services. This commitment from the host railroads (UPRR and Caltrain) was matched only by Amtrak’s mechanical team that reduced mechanical delay minutes by 16% over the past 12 months for the Capitol Corridor train equipment.

The Capitol Corridor Joint Powers Authority (CCJPA) greatly appreciates the work of our service partners. Their support and commitment helps keep the trains running on-time and maintains passenger (and employee) safety and satisfaction as the number one priority.

The operating ratio was 53% in April 2014; however, the YTD ratio is at 51%, below the expected 53% due to YTD revenues falling below projections. While ridership and revenues have increased slightly over the last two months, the CCJPA is continuing its efforts to improve performance at specific stations and on specific trains:

Trains serving Placer County stations (one in each direction): Staff is currently working with Amtrak on various fare plans to address ridership losses on these trains.

Sacramento station: Based on the latest update from the City of Sacramento, construction of 40 parking spaces at the west end of the station parking lot is set to begin in late May. Construction should be complete by early fall. Efforts to identify additional parking closer to the station platform/tunnel entry continue as well.

Weekend trains: Using data from the daily conductor e-Ticketing reports, weekend ridership was up approximately 4% in April 2014 versus March 2013. This increase was due to Easter holiday travel, plus the 50% off advance-purchase internet ticket discount for weekend travel. This promotion expired at the end of April 2014.

FY2015 AMTRAK OPERATING BUDGET FORECAST

The CCJPA received the FY2015 budget forecasts from Amtrak for the Capitol Corridor trains on March 31, 2014. The total budget, which includes an equipment capital charge for the use of Amtrak locomotives used on the corridor, is $32.264 million versus $29.331 million in the FY2014 operating contract, an increase of $2.933 million. $2.745 million of this budget increase is due to Amtrak’s lowered revenue forecast using FY2014 ridership figures from actual conductor e-Ticketing lifts, compared to previous years when ridership reports overestimated the number of multi-ride ticket users.

While actual FY2014 ridership and revenue figures are equal to or slightly below estimated ridership allocations from FY2013 e-Ticketing conductor reports, Amtrak overestimated ridership and revenues for the CCJPA’s FY2014 operating budget. In an effort to provide a more reliable revenue forecast for FY2015, Amtrak used the FY2014 actual e-Ticketing ridership reports, which better represent near-term ridership levels, and thus resulted in a revenue forecast for FY2015 that is $2.745 million lower than the FY2014 revenue forecast.

There was a new cost included in the FY2015 budget — $0.275 million for the use of three Amtrak locomotives in the Northern California IPR fleet (Capitol Corridor and San Joaquin).  These funds represent the CCJPA’s 50% share (evenly split with the San Joaquin IPR service) for 1.5 locomotives. The funds will be used to (1) have Amtrak perform Life Cycle Preventative Maintenance (LCPM) in order to keep the locomotives in a state of good repair [$200,000] and (2) implement PTC equipment on these units [$75,000].

Overall, operating expenses remain relatively flat for FY2015 compared to FY2014 budgeted expenses, except for insurance, which increased $400,000, or 33%, due to a national increase in premiums for all railroad services (passenger and freight).

The CCJPA has begun coordinating with Amtrak and Caltrans, which manages the other two California Intercity Passenger Rail (CIPR) services, to identify possible changes to operating service plans (e.g. consist sizing, revised train schedules) to increase revenues and/or reduce operating costs.

These efforts will also involve the California State Transportation Agency (CalSTA), which will be allocating the state FY2015 funds to the CCJPA for the operation, marketing, and administration of the Capitol Corridor IPR service.  From the submittal of the Amtrak FY2015 budget forecasts, the state financial operating support for the three California Intercity Passenger Rail (CIPR) services will need to increase from the FY2014 budget baseline of $108.9 million by approximately $10 to $13 million.  This additional state financial support is the subject of current legislative hearings for the state FY2015 budget process and hopefully will be included in the Governor’s May Revise of the FY2015 budget.

CAP AND TRADE REVENUE PROPOSALS: INVESTMENT IN THE CIPR SERVICES

There are currently two proposals for the investment of Cap and Trade Revenues into the State’s transportation network and CIPR program in particular:

The Governor’s Draft FY2014-15 budget: This budget draft proposes that 70% of Cap and Trade go toward transportation improvements, with $300 million in revenues from Cap and Trade auction proceeds for the Rail Modernization Program. The $300 million would be split – $250 million for the California High Speed Rail Authority to start construction of a high speed train system in the Central Valley, and $50 million for Caltrans’ allocation of competitive grants for existing rail transit agencies to integrate rail systems and provide connectivity to high speed rail. The CIPR program is identified as an eligible applicant for these funds.

The CCJPA appreciates the inclusion of the CIPR services in the Cap and Trade-funded Rail Modernization Program and has sent a letter of support for the Program. Nevertheless, the CCJPA believes the account for this Cap and Trade program should be increased tenfold, to $500 million. The increased account could be distributed using a programmatic formula that is fair and equitable and that would provide enough funds to allow the State’s passenger rail network and rail transit services to expand service levels to meet growing passenger demand, reduce greenhouse gas emissions from the transportation sector, and support sustainability programs in our communities.

Senator Steinberg’s Investment Strategy for Cap and Trade Revenues: On April 11, 2014, Senate President Pro Tempore Darrell Steinberg announced a proposed plan to create a permanent spending strategy for Cap and Trade revenue that prioritizes investments in affordable transit-oriented housing, transit expansion, and the State’s High Speed Train (HST) system. The proposal is established in Senate Bill (SB) 1156 and differs from the Governor’s Cap and Trade investment plan.

Senator Steinberg’s plan focuses his Cap and Trade investment strategy on implementing sustainable communities’ strategies identified in SB 375 and reducing greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions pursuant to AB 32, California’s Global Warming Solutions Act. While Senator Steinberg does identify local and regional transit and HST as eligible recipients in his proposal, the CIPR services are noticeably absent. Discussions have been ongoing with the CIPR agencies, legislative officials, and other interested parties to include the CIPR services in Senator Steinberg’s proposal since CIPR services are included in Governor Brown’s Cap and Trade investment strategy.

SAFETY INITIATIVES

Positive Train Control: Installation of the PTC equipment on the state-owned equipment is currently proceeding with all locomotives equipped and installation on cab cars underway (~90% complete). The completion date has slipped from April to early June 2014.

Station Access Safety Improvements: Based on a station-by-station site analysis conducted by CCJPA and Amtrak staff, the scheduled program of upgrades is planned to improve passenger access to platforms at various stations.  Davis will be the first station to receive these upgrades. Work is scheduled to begin on May 12 and be complete by May 17. The initial project start date in April was pushed out to May due to rainstorms in early April and subsequent delays in securing railroad safety workers to provide protection for workers within the railroad right-of-way and at the station platforms.

PROJECT UPDATES CCJPA Bicycle Access Program: Starting May 1, 2014, the CCJPA has been working with Amtrak and Caltrans to begin implementation of a key element of CCJPA’s Bicycle Access Plan – the addition of a second, enhanced bike storage car on select trainsets assigned to the Capitol Corridor. This will double the capacity of bike storage on these trains due to (1) the completion of the retrofitted cab cars in the Northern California IPR fleet; (2) the assignment of the six (6) coach/bike cars (the 8200 series) to the Capitol Corridor (in turn, the CCJPA released six coach cars to be assigned to the San Joaquin service); and (3) the introduction of the Comet Car trainsets to the San Joaquin service, which frees up extra cab/bike cars that can be used as bike/coach cars on the Capitol Corridor to supplement the 8200-series coach/bike cars.

Work continues on the implementation of the at-station bicycle amenities, which are also part of the Bicycle Access Plan.  Funding applications are being developed in concert with Caltrans/Local Assistance to obtain an allocation of $556,000 from the California Transportation Commission (CTC) to install e-Lockers and folding bicycle rental systems. CTC action is anticipated no later than summer 2014.

OUTLOOK – CLOSING

The ridership increase in April 2014 for the Capitol Corridor is a movement in the right direction and has reduced the YTD ridership decline to -0.2%, compared to ridership during the same period last fiscal year.

Revenue still trails by -2.4%. With fuel expenses and other operating costs even with budget projections, the revenue declines have resulted in a system operating ratio of 51% that is below the forecasted 53%.

Other key service performance metrics – OTP and customer satisfaction – are performing at or above standard, and Union Pacific Railroad is on track to receive its maximum incentive payments for FY2014.

CIPR leaders will continue to work with Senator Jackson and other legislators, as well as the Governor’s agencies, to ensure that the Capitol Corridor and other successful CIPR services receive their fair share of the proposed Cap and Trade revenues to be used for investment in projects that expand and improve the safety and efficiency of these services, while also helping to meet the State’s clean air goals and implementation of sustainable community strategies.

Get On Board! Message to Riders – January 24, 2014

Date January 24, 2014

Dear Valued Riders:

On behalf of all of us here at Capitol Corridor, I wish you and yours a very happy (and slightly belated) New Year, and hope the transition to 2014 has been a smooth one. January is always a busy time for us, as we take stock of past accomplishments and make plans for the year ahead. In 2013, we had many great reasons for optimism:

  • In December 2013, Capitol Corridor had near-perfect on-time performance (98%) – the third highest in its history – and maintained its position as the most reliable service in the entire Amtrak system for the fourth year in a row.
  • We made upgrades to our on-board Wi-Fi service so passengers can enjoy a more productive commute.
  • We launched two great fare discount programs – 50% off weekends and half-price mid-week travel for seniors – to provide incentive for new and existing riders to take advantage of train travel during the off-peak periods.
  • We saved 111,000 gallons of fuel over 2012, reflecting our ongoing commitment to providing environmentally-friendly service.
  • The Capitol Corridor Joint Powers Authority Board adopted a Bicycle Access Plan so that more bicycle-riding passengers can make Capitol Corridor a part of their commute or leisure travels.

You can read more about the past year in our Annual Performance Report, which will be coming out soon. Meanwhile, our focus is on the future, and we’ve got a lot planned for 2014!

Business Plan for FY 2014-2016
Just around the corner is the release of our updated Business Plan for FY 2014-2016, which can be found on our web site in draft form at http://www.capitolcorridor.org/about_ccjpa/business_plan.php. As always, we encourage passengers and the general public to provide input on this draft. To facilitate that, we’re holding a series of public workshops between January 27 and 30 in Oakland at the BART administrative offices and on board select trains. It’s your opportunity to have a say in the future plans of Capitol Corridor, and we invite you to participate at one of those meetings listed here.

eTicketing for Multi-ride Tickets
One of the biggest and most highly-anticipated initiatives of 2014 is the launch of eTicketing for multi-ride tickets. Electronic Ticketing, which allows passengers to print out and download tickets from any computer (or pull up on a smart phone), has been available since April 2012 for one-way and round-trip tickets. We know our frequent riders, who represent 55% of Capitol Corridor’s overall ridership, have expressed the need to be able to purchase 10-ride and monthly multi-ride eTickets as well. So we worked hard with Amtrak to help bring this feature to our passengers, and we’re happy to report that this function is now available as of January 16, 2014. I want to point out that we discovered technical challenges with the scanning of ten-ride tickets on certain feeder bus routes, most notably the route between Emeryville and San Francisco. We are currently addressing the issue and hope to have a resolution soon. Please visit our eTicketing web page for the most up-to-date information.

January/February Track Work
Another project fresh out of the gates in 2014 is the railroad tie replacement work that is going on right now by Union Pacific Railroad (UPRR) work crews, which will continue through mid-February. This work is critical to keeping the Capitol Corridor system in a state of good repair so we can continue delivering top-notch, reliable service. Unlike past years, this year’s work is being done primarily at night in order to minimize the impact on our passengers. You can read more about this project here. Our many thanks to UPRR for performing this important work program at a time when fewer passengers will be impacted!

New Schedule February 17th
On the heels of this track work, we’ll also be implementing service changes effective February 17 that will result in the publication of an updated train schedule. More information about this will be coming soon to our web site and through CC Rail Mail – if you’re not signed up already to receive this informative newsletter, you can do so at http://www.capitolcorridor.org/news/.

Spring is Coming
As I mentioned above as part of the 2013 highlights, our marketing staff has put some great discount programs in place for seniors travelling midweek and those interested in weekend train excursions to San Francisco, Sacramento, San Jose, and great destinations in between. Both of those discounts will be available well into the spring, so be sure to check them out. We’re also getting into our busy season for group travel, especially school groups, so don’t be surprised to see lots of young people enjoying Capitol Corridor.

You may also see more bicyclists on the train this spring, as we roll out components of the Bicycle Access Plan adopted in 2013. The plan includes the doubling of bicycle capacity on select trains by adding cars with expanded storage. Later on this year, we will be working with station owners to add more bike lockers at stations.

Speaking of spring, baseball season is in clear sight, and we’re excited to once again be partnering with the amazing Oakland A’s. As in past years, we’ll be offering 25% off train travel to home games at the Coliseum, so you can avoid the hassle of driving.

Passengers this year also enjoyed a 25% discount to the Coliseum to catch the Raiders in action and to Memorial Stadium to cheer on Cal’s Golden Bears.  We thank both of these outstanding organizations for the opportunity to team up this fall.

On the subject of football, many of you have asked about our plans with the San Francisco 49ers since Capitol Corridor offers direct service to the Great America/Santa Clara station, next to the team’s new home at Levi’s Stadium. You’ll be happy to know that we’ve initiated conversations with the team about how we can help bring the 49er Faithfuls to the games. Stay tuned for more about this and the many other initiatives that are underway or planned for 2014!

Get On Board! Message to Riders – October 11, 2013

Date October 11, 2013

Dear Valued Riders:

With the passage of summer and a new school year underway, I would like to take a moment to wish all the students and teachers a hearty and sincere “Welcome Back.” It’s always a pleasure to see so many students onboard the trains – some riding for the first time as well as students who have ridden with us in previous years.

Although vacation season may be over, I’m pleased that we have the 2013-14 sports season to look forward to here in Northern California! As always, Capitol Corridor will be there to provide passenger rail service to many different Bay Area sporting events including college football with the Cal Bears, NFL football with the Oakland Raiders, and for next year Capitol Corridor and the 49ers are working together to bring fans to games at the new Levi’sTM Stadium in Santa Clara. And congratulations to the Oakland A’s on a fantastic season!

How We’re Doing

Fall 2013 is off to a great start. Last month, Capitol Corridor on-time performance was 96.6%, which is a .6 percent increase over September 2012. Ridership for this period was 132,937, which was even with September 2012. As always, our number one priority is to provide safe, reliable transportation that is on time, and our focus continues to be on keeping the performance level high. Reducing major delays is a big part of this. We have been able to reduce bridge delays considerably, in part, due to a new joint program that was launched in March 2013 between the San Francisco Bar Pilots, Union Pacific, Amtrak and Capitol Corridor. The program identifies the most effective time to move marine traffic under the raised Suisun Bay Bridge while incurring the least amount of delay to the Capitol Corridor trains.

The results have been immediate and positive. The effort by the San Francisco Bar Pilots, (with assistance from Union Pacific Bridge Tenders) has resulted in a 36% percent decrease in delays to the Capitol Corridor passenger trains passing over the Suisun Bay Bridge in the six months beginning March 2013 and ending August 30, 2013, as compared to the same period in 2012. Collaborations like these help keep Capitol Corridor the number one rail passenger service in the nation for on-time performance across the whole Amtrak system!

Bikes on Board and Capitol Corridor Stations

Many of you have asked about progress relating to the multi-faceted Bicycle Access Program that will be deployed/in use both onboard our trains and at our stations.  Provided below are updates for the key elements of the Bicycle Access Program that we’re currently moving forward.

Bike eLockers: CCJPA Staff has a plan for most of the Capitol Corridor stations to install new bicycle eLockers for a viable, safe, and secure option for those of you who can store your bicycle at your start or destination station. We are getting through the necessary funding paper work and then this project can enter the installation phase. We hope to present this option starting in mid-2014.

Folding Bicycle Rentals: On a similar time frame to bike eLockers and tied to the same funding source, we are working on preliminary locations in Sacramento and Davis with potential to add Oakland Jack London as stations with automated folding bicycle rental.

BikeSharing: CCJPA, along with BART and many other regional stakeholders along our route, is at the forefront in both the Bay Area and Sacramento areas to establish a coordinated bike sharing system for Northern California. Each region is working their way toward a solution and CCJPA staff is working with the stakeholders to unite these efforts from the end user perspective to make bikesharing and Capitol Corridor travel an attractive multi-modal travel combination.

Cab Car Bicycle Storage Retrofits: We are retrofitting approximately one car per month for additional bicycle storage (13 bicycle slots). By December 2013 we will have sufficient bicycle conversions completed, but it won’t be until sometime in Spring 2014 when other cab-car modifications (positive train control devices) are completed before we will be able to consistently put these retrofitted cab cars out on every train on a daily basis without exception.

Policy Change: Transferability of Ten Ride Ticket

As many of you are aware, we have recently modified our policy regarding ten-ride ticket transferability, and it is understandable that many of you are less than pleased with this policy change. I want you all to know that I share your concerns, and that it’s important that we all bear in mind that the change in this type of policy was made to keep and maintain safety and security both at stations and onboard our trains. Knowing who is on the train at any time is a primary concern, and as such, a “one ticket per passenger” policy makes the best sense.

For those of you traveling with friends and family this season please take advantage of our Take 5 promotion that has been extended through November 15, 2013. In addition, our staff is exploring year-round small group fare options to make it more attractive for friends traveling together. We will update you on more details on this as they emerge.

Rail Projects:

A Union Pacific Railroad Tie Renewal Project is set to begin January 2, 2014 through the first week of February 2014. The rail segment affected will be between Richmond and Martinez.

The impact during peak weekday and weekend travel periods is anticipated to be minimal; however, we will be running alternate schedules and several mid-day bus bridges on specific dates, not yet determined.

In closing, I want to thank you all for continuing to ride with us. We strive to provide the best service possible, and it is very much appreciated that so many of you take the time to let us know what and when we’re doing well as well as areas in which we need to improve. Look for new service amenities coming soon onboard such as print implementation updates to eticketing, visual and audio improvements made to the electronic signs at stations and improved real-time communication for train schedule and ETA udpates at several media access points. Thanks again, and I look forward to seeing you all on board!

 

New Year Message to Riders

Date January 24, 2013

Dear Valued Riders:

As we celebrate the New Year, it is traditional to make resolutions. The CCJPA team knows that your top priority as riders of Capitol Corridor is to have clean, safe trains that run reliably and on time. Recently, we know that you have experienced significant delays due to poorly functioning or inoperable locomotives. CCJPA staff have resolved to address these delays by retaining an independent consultant to conduct a review of the service delays relating to the inadequate and substandard performance of the Northern California intercity passenger rail fleet. The results of this study will be used as a tool to get the Northern California IPR fleet back into compliance with our operating contract to meet the high standards expected by you, the passengers, and by the CCJPA Board. Results of the study and the actions to improve the equipment reliability will be posted on this blog as we progress through this improvement program.

New Timetable and Call Center Hours
By now Capitol Corridor riders should have experienced the new timetable and call center hours that went into effect as of January 14. Amtrak changed the location of the Napa bus stop from both the old transit center on Pearl Street and the Wine Train stop to the Soscol Gateway Transit Center on Burnell Street. Several motorcoach bus connections from San Francisco will depart on new schedules to allow for more timely connections during heavy traffic conditions. Eastbound weekday trains will now depart the Santa Clara University (SCC) one minute earlier. You may view the complete new schedule
online.

More Quiet Cars
Quiet Cars are a popular addition at rail agencies around the country, allowing passengers to happily find a quiet place to get away from cell phone chatter in order to read or nap. Capitol Corridor Quiet Cars have dimmed lighting, conversations are discouraged and riders are asked to place cell phones in “silent” or “vibrate” mode. Riders using Quiet Cars are asked to respect the “one seat, one ticket” policy and should not make a bed out of two seats.


Capitol Corridor expanded the Quiet Car program effective January 14 and Capitol Corridor 500 series trains that arrive on or about 10:00 a.m. in the Bay Area or Sacramento have been added to the program. Quiet cars are availble on Westbound Trains 521, 523, 525, 527 and 529 and Eastbound Trains 520, 522 and 524. As with previous quiet cars, the designated cars will be either the cab car or car 1. This will minimize foot traffic through the car. Groups will be accomodated as best as possible in cars away from the quiet cars.


Join CCJPA Staff At Business Plan Public Workshops
The Capitol Corridor Joint Powers Authority Board of Directors is the policy body that oversees Capitol Corridor intercity train service. The Board of Directors has released its draft business plan for FY 2012-13 and FY 2013-14 for public review and comment. The plan is available on the website at
www.capitolcorridor.org. Comments on the plan are due by Wednesday, February 6, 2013 and can be submitted via the website, to the CCJPA mailing address: 300 Lakeside Drive, 14th Floor East, Oakland, CA 94612 or by calling the customer comment line at (510)464-6995.

Also as part of the review process, the CCJPA invites members of the public to attend the series of annual workshops to have input on the future plans for Capitol Corridor (fares, schedules, stations) as the CCJPA Board seeks to make the train service the preferred means of travel along the congested I-80/I-680/I-880 highway corridor. The schedule for the public workshops is available
online. They will be held onboard select trains between January 28 and 31.

New Pre-Tax Transit Commute Benefits
Included in new legislation passed by Congress in the first week of this year, is an increase to the public transit commuter benefit making it equal to the parking benefit. Now both provide for up to $240 pre-tax dollars to be deducted from paychecks through employer commuter benefit tax programs. The benefit is retroactive from January 1, 2012. Riders should speak with their employer’s transit coordinator about the program.

Holiday Message to Riders

Date December 21, 2012

Dear Valued Riders:

As 2012 comes to a close, it’s a fitting time to once again thank you, our loyal and new riders, for choosing to ride the Capitol Corridor. Th CCJPA is grateful that this year a recordbreaking 1.75 million passengers opted to ride our trains instead of drive cars. We know that transportation is a choice and we are thankful that our service continues to be a favored travel option for you!

Much of our success can be directly attributed to you. Because we are committed to accommodating all of our train riders, we established a variety of communication avenues to encourage your feedback to make the Capitol Corridor better. This year, riders used traditional ways as well as social media to comment on a variety of topics: from our proposed bicycle access program and our free Wi-Fi service to day-to-day service issues. These comments help us serve you better.

Your feedback alerts us that we need to continue to improve the on-board Wi-Fi service, add bicycle storage both on trains and at stations, seek solutions to service challenges and maintain our high on-time performance.

While the CCJPA is the managing entity for the Capitol Corridor trains, the service is comprised of many partners working together to ensure a safe, reliable experience for you. An example is station redevelopment. Because stations are owned by the city it serves, we may provide input on the station facilities (such as platform, lighting, and signs) but the final decisions on development of station and surrounding infrastructure remain with those entities. Our job is to work with the station owner and Amtrak staff to address any issues that are within our control, in order to make your train experience a pleasant one.

An example of listening and providing a solution for our customers is the eTicketing option, which Amtrak introduced on our trains in April. Passengers wanted the same ease of purchasing train tickets as the airlines employ. Thanks to our partners at Amtrak, you can now buy one-way/roundtrip tickets online and use your smartphone as proof of purchase! We are working with Amtrak to expand this option to multiride tickets by summer 2013. Our new eTicketing option is so popular, over 75 percent of our single-trip tickets are bought this way.

Another example of a successful customer service amenity is the Capitol Corridor Quiet Cars, a program we started in over 5 years ago. These cars

which we designate in Trains 520, 521, 522, 523 and 525provide a respite from our busy, cacophonic world. From an article that inspired 250 online comments, it appears West Coast riders are not the only community of train passengers who treasure this space as evident by New York Times’ writer Tim Krieder opinion piece.

The popularity of the Quiet Car is a great segue to another topic: busy trains mean more riders and the need to encourage train etiquette. When ridership started soaring, I noticed courtesy was spotty, so we introduced the Capitol Corridor Ride Guide as a way to gently remind our riders to be aware of their fellow passengers.

The guide includes typical guiding statements, such as no smoking on trains and to please give up lower level seats to seniors or the mobility impaired. It also asks folks to be Courteous Riders by advising riders to:

● Be mindful of our “One Ticket, One Seat” policy.

● Store baggage and personal belongings in the overhead racks and designated storage areas, instead of on the seat next to you or in lower level areas designated for bike storage.

● No feet on seats, please! Resting shoes on the seat cushions often leaves dirt that is difficult to clean and is unpleasant for the next passenger.

Please keep these common courtesy tips in mind so everyone can enjoy their travels on the Capitol Corridor trains.

Happy Holidays

We at the Capitol Corridor Joint Powers Authority wish you a joyful holiday season. May you and your loved ones be safe in all your travels. We look forward to seeing you aboard our trains in 2013!

Sincerely,

David Kutrosky, Managing Director

Apology to riders for the extensive delays experienced on Capitol Corridor trains December 12, 2012

Date December 13, 2012

Dear CAPITOL CORRIDOR Riders-

I want to sincerely apologize for the delays many of you experienced onboard yesterday’s Capitol Corridor morning and evening trains.  A series of events- some preventable and others unpredictable- contributed to the numerous and varied delays that culminated in a day of very poor service to our passengers.

For those of you affected by the delays, I wanted to provide an explanation of what happened, and how we are working to prevent these types of service delays from occurring again.  The morning began with a significant delay to Train 524 departing San Jose due to human error, not mechanical malfunction.  Our operating partners have already initiated improved training to those involved.

The cancellation of train 525 at the Suisun/Fairfield Station was due to a mechanical malfunction with the rear axle and associated traction motors of the locomotive.  This type of unpredictable mechanical issue has not been experienced on the Capitol Corridor passenger locomotives since the service began in 1991.

In the evening, train 542 arrived at the Caltrain Santa Clara Station and then began experiencing problems related to a leak in an air valve- which has the potential to affect the train’s braking ability. Since your safety is our number one priority, the train was not released until the crew was confident that it could safely continue its route, nearly 40 minutes behind schedule. To make matters worse, the delayed Train 542 departed Emeryville Station and struck a vehicle abandoned on the tracks. Luckily, the vehicle was not occupied; however, this incident further delayed Train 542 due to required inspections of the trainset and the tracks. Train 544, operating on-time, was able to pull next to Train 542 to pick-up passengers who had experienced delays of nearly two hours.

Now that you are aware of what caused the delays, I wanted to relay to you how we are working to minimize these types of events in the future in conjunction with our operating partners – Union Pacific Railroad (dispatching and track maintenance), Amtrak (train operations and maintenance) and Caltrans Rail (rail vehicle owner).  Early last week, Amtrak management made organizational changes at the facility in Oakland. Since this restructuring, there has been small, measured progress in terms of mechanical-related delays. In fact, none of yesterday’s mechanical delays were attributable to the Oakland facility. We are also working with Caltrans Rail (the owner of the locomotives and rail cars) to determine if adjustments can be made to the current vehicle overhaul program to increase the availability of equipment assigned to the Capitol Corridor and San Joaquin train services.

The Capitol Corridor Joint Powers Authority (CCJPA) and our service partners take great pride in the delivery of train service to our most important partner- our passengers. Today, and in a few prior instances over the past few months, we did not deliver the superior service you are accustomed to and should expect every time you board a Capitol Corridor train.  We have learned some lessons from yesterday’s events and I am confident that the CCJPA and our Capitol Corridor operating partners will rise to the occasion and restore a superior level of service.  I would like to highlight that in spite of today’s delays the on-time performance (OTP) for the Capitol Corridor is 94% and continues to be one of the best in the Amtrak network, primarily due to the disciplined dispatching and a dedicated state of good repair program by Union Pacific. 

Once again, I extend my apologies to all of you impacted by any of these events.  You have my commitment as Managing Director that the CCJPA will be working with our operating partners to improve the Capitol Corridor train service we deliver to you every day.

Sincerely,

David B. Kutrosky

Capitol Corridor Breaks Annual Ridership Record

Date October 23, 2012

First, the Operational Issues
For those of you who are regular, frequent riders, I want to extend my sincere apologies for the recent spate of mechanical delays over the last three weeks.  Please know that I’m committed to providing a superior intercity passenger rail service for the Capitol Corridor riders. I recently received an action plan from Amtrak’s management team at the Oakland Maintenance Facility in response to these mechanical delays.  The CCJPA Mechanical team will be working with Amtrak to initiate an updated process and protocol for pre-service inspections.  This will ensure that each trainset goes through a thorough testing and evaluation prior to its scheduled departure from the terminal.
The CCJPA mechanical team will be working closely with Amtrak maintenance to track how this action plan is being implemented.

Capitol Corridor Breaks Annual Ridership Record
Over 1.75 million people rode Capitol Corridor trains in Federal Fiscal Year 2012 (FY12), which began on October 1, 2011 and ended on September 30, 2012, representing a 2 percent increase over FY11, thus breaking a previous ridership threshold we set in 2011! 
The good news doesn’t end there: revenue  for the year was up 9 percent, we achieved a 50 percent operating ratio and maintained the top spot for reliability for passenger rail!  We recorded a 94 percent  on-time performance for the entire year!
If you’d like to view a table of the Capitol Corridor September performance, or past reports to the CCJPA Board, click here.
I was thrilled when we started off FY12 with a double digit increases:  October 2011 showed a 14 percent increase compared to October 2010.  Clearly the first eight months, from October to May 2012 demonstrated the continued popularity of the Capitol Corridor, but our upward ridership trend began to dip in June. Yet, despite experiencing four consecutive months of declining ridership, overall Capitol Corridor performance was the best in the history of our service.  I checked our ridership to date for October 2012, and preliminary data shows we are experiencing another strong start.  I’m sure skyrocketing gas prices help to inspire travelers to try our trains, but it’s our wealth of passenger amenities—free Wi-Fi, eTicketing, pleasant crews, electrical outlets in every car, food and beverages for purchase on every train, and the ability to do so many things you can’t do while driving—that keeps folks riding the Capitol Corridor!

Deep Discount Offered to Fill Weekend Seats
With the ridership on weekends for June through this September surprisingly lower than the same period last year, the CCJPA’s Marketing Team is working to fill the weekend ridership gaps by offering a 50 percent train fare discount for weekend travel. This online-only discount offers two ways to save: two passengers traveling together on the same itinerary can buy one to get the second ticket free or for those traveling alone; this offer can be used to get 50 percent of one’s train fare. The CCJPA is offering it only on-line as part of its social media strategy.  In 12 months, Capitol Corridor Facebook fans and Twitters followers have skyrocketed 620 percent and 65 percent respectively and we intend to use this resource to help build awareness about our service.California Steps Closer to a New Fleet of Railcars
Also in September, the California Department of Transportation (Caltrans) issued a news release announcing its multi-state partnership to procure 130 bi-level, assembled in America passenger railcars. Of the 42 new assembled in the US rail cars assigned to California, we expect 10 rail cars will be assigned to the Capitol Corridor. Delivery will begin in 2015 with final delivery expected by early 2018.  With the thousands of new passengers riding our trains every year, those 10 cars can’t come fast enough.

California Steps Closer to a New Fleet of Railcars
Also in September, the California Department of Transportation (Caltrans) issued a news release announcing its multi-state partnership to procure 130 bi-level, assembled in America passenger railcars. Of the 42 new assembled in the US rail cars assigned to California, we expect 10 rail cars will be assigned to the Capitol Corridor. Delivery will begin in 2015 with final delivery expected by early 2018.  With the thousands of new passengers riding our trains every year, those 10 cars can’t come fast enough.

Cab Car Renovated to Accommodate More Bikes
While I’m on the topic of customer-focused initiatives, our readiness to listen to our riders is another factor that helps inspire customer loyalty.  Our surveys show that riders who bike to and from trains have grown to 10% of our customer base.  Bicycle storage on-board is a crucial issue for Capitol Corridor service as demand for on-train storage is higher than we can generally supply.  In 2011, CCJPA staff established a Bicycle Access Work Group to address this issue.  I have used my blog to solicit feedback and folks have been using our web site to contact us as well.  In earlier blogs I let you know that we were in the process of working with Caltrans to modify Cab Cars to create more storage for bikes, while keeping aisleways clear to sustain accessibility for our wheelchair using riders.  I’m pleased to announce our first retrofit, Cab Car 8302, was completed in September.  Here are photos to let you see what to expect as we continue this retrofit program.

Modified Cab Car bike racks with a wider wheel hook that Capitol Corridor bike users suggested.
 
Seating area and ADA area space with added Segway tie downs.
Modified Cab Car with roomier bike/luggage storage area!
New configuration of lower level that adds more space for wheelchair users and bike storage.

Observing Rail Safety & Fall Promotions

Date September 24, 2012

 

Capitol Corridor Observes Rail Safety Month

While Rail Safety is a daily priority of the Capitol Corridor Joint Powers Authority, like other rail operators in the state, we observe September as California’s Rail Safety Month. California experiences the highest number of train-related deaths resulting from people crossing or walking on the tracks when a train approaches. Unfortunately, the Capitol Corridor is not immune to these tragedies and for us one life lost because of unsafe practices is one too many.

Capitol Corridor staff began our annual Rail Safety Month public awareness efforts in August. Those efforts began on August 16th, when CCJPA staff conducted an Operation Lifesaver presentation about Rail Safety on board Union Pacific Railroad’s (UPRR) “Safety Train.” At least twice a year, UPRR invites community leaders, elected officials and the media to ride its special Safety Train along the Capitol Corridor route. This summer, UPRR ran the train from Oakland to Pinole. Along with the safety presentation, folks on this special train saw the CCJPA’s investment to secure the tracks in the City of Richmond from trespassers via fence projects the CCJPA paid for in North Richmond.

At the end of August, to help get the word out about rail safety, the CCJPA issued a news release, posted messages on Facebook and Twitter, and sent out public service announcements to local radio stations to build public awareness that September is Rail Safety Month in California.

Ridership Report
Our loyal riders who board at Placer County stations (Roseville, Rocklin and Auburn) may have noticed their trains are less crowded. It’s not your imagination. For the past three months, ridership has dipped in our northeastern stations and on weekends. While August data shows we carried 8,885 more customers than in July, the 146,232 August ridership count represents a five percent decline compared to August 2011.

The good news is we are still the most reliable passenger rail service in the nation thanks to Union Pacific Railroad’s expert, safe and prompt dispatching. As of this writing, we are at 96% on time performance and, as I’ve heard people say, “You can set your watch to Capitol Corridor trains.”

So, what are our ridership expectations? The student ridership, which represents five percent of the Capitol Corridor market, should start to increase with the beginning of fall semesters at the five universities we serve. To target the dip in weekend ridership, the CCJPA Marketing team launched new fall promotions. This includes our discounts for train fares to Cal Bears (an online promotion found on capitolcorridor.org) and the annual Oakland Raiders home game discount. If you’re 62 years or older, our mid-week Seniors 50 percent off promotion will end on September, 30—but don’t despair! Seniors and riders of all ages can use ourWeekend Free Companion Fare” offer, which begins October 1, 2012. This online-only discount offer is good for up to 50 percent off the regular (full) adult rail fare when two passengers traveling together on the same itinerary. Single travelers can also use this online offer to get 50 percent of their ticket. This great weekend deal ends on April 25, 2013.

Don’t forget that our Oakland A’s home game 25 percent discount is in effect until the end of their regular season. We hope you take advantage of this season’s discounts and hop on board the Capitol Corridor this fall!