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GET ON BOARD! WITH DAVID KUTROSKY

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!

Negotiating Sacramento Valley Station’s “Path to Progress”

Date August 15, 2012

On the evening of Sunday, August 12, 2012, the City of Sacramento’s “Path to Progress” was put to use at Sacramento Valley Station as Capitol Corridor and Amtrak trains switched to the new platform. The City’s new pathway is 500 feet (comparable to a block and a half) longer than what loyal riders are accustomed to walking; therefore, in my previous blog, I suggested riders give themselves extra time for the longer distance.

My staff and I walk the talk. We ride the Capitol Corridor or use other forms of public transit to travel to work or get to Sacramento, so we understand how changes in one’s everyday travel plan may take a little getting used to. But I am also aware that there are folks—whom for whatever reason—may find the walk a challenge and may need extra help in negotiating the longer path or the grade between the tracks and the platform.

The purpose of this blog is to let you know that not only is CCJPA listening to your concerns we have staff who use this station each weekday, so we are observing the issues as well. Therefore, the CCJPA is actively working with Amtrak to see what changes should be made to accommodate those riders who need extra support.

For example, Amtrak modified its early morning jobs schedule there at the Sacramento Valley Station, which means Amtrak will have two ticket clerks on duty at 4am on weekdays. In addition, the CCJPA is using various avenues to publicize that mobility impaired, ADA or elderly passengers who want assistance going to the new platforms need only to go the ticket window to request an electric cart to transport them to the trains.

We will continue to make adjustments in order to ensure that passengers have a safe and pleasant experience at the Sacramento Valley Station as well at other Capitol Corridor stops or on our trains. We appreciate your patience. We know public transportation is a choice, and we are grateful for your continued loyalty.

Important Update — Weekday Train Service Changes, Effective August 13, 2012

Date August 3, 2012

Important Update — Weekday Train Service Changes, Effective August 13, 2012

Capitol Corridor customers may have heard recent news reports about changes in the Capitol Corridor weekday train service levels. This blog post is to accurately confirm specific information so Capitol Corridor riders will be aware of the very latest service news.

Discontinuing Trains 518 and 553

Effective Monday, August 13, 2012 Trains 518 and 553 will be discontinued. This decision to reduce weekday service levels from 32 to 30 trains took months of careful consideration, but like other public transit systems, the CCJPA was faced with cost-effectiveness decisions that lead to this action.

We outlined our intention to reduce service in the CCJPA’s Business Plan published in January 2012 and adopted by the CCJPA Board in February 2012. This year, as we have for over 12 years, CCJPA staff and I boarded several trains in January 2012 to present the annual business plan and the related weekday service changes to the Capitol Corridor passengers. This outreach effort let those passengers know personally that we were discontinuing these trains.

To accommodate Train 518 riders, effective Monday, August 13 2012, an existing Davis to Sacramento Amtrak Thruway bus will be scheduled to begin its trip at Martinez. The bus will serve the Martinez and Suisun/Fairfield stations, as well as the current Davis and Sacramento stations and provide connections to San Joaquin train #702 to Bakersfield.

More About Train 553

In our new train schedule, you may notice that Train 553 will not be listed in the schedule. Train 553 is being renumbered to Train 551, this means the latest train out of Sacramento will still leave at 9:10PM. As we are merging two westbound trips (6:40pm and 7:40pm) into one train (#549) departing Sacramento at 7:10pm, our last trip out of Sacramento will be listed in Capitol Corridor’s train schedule as 551 at 9:10pm.

This is the first time in 20 years that we discontinued a train or reduced service, but changing from 32 to 30 trains per weekday will help CCJPA save approximately $1 million. These cost savings will be used to address steep increases in diesel fuel prices, while ensuring the continued operation of trains that have higher passenger counts.

Other Changes: Train numbers 520, 531, 549

Also effective Monday August 13, Capitol Corridor schedules for trains 520, 531, 549 (and again Train 551) will change as a result of the City of Sacramento’s track realignment project. The project will enable an additional train to be stored in Sacramento overnight, eliminating the need to operate an extra round-trip every day to move train sets to/from Oakland as we had to do when train storage space was limited. Therefore, several other trains have minor adjustments to provide better spacing between departures.

Eastbound changes:

  • Train 520 will operate 10 minutes earlier.

Westbound changes:

  • Train 531 will operate 10 minutes earlier.
  • Train 549 will operate 30 minutes later.
  • Train 551 will operate 90 minutes later (taking over slot currently used by train 553).

There will be no changes to weekend Capitol Corridor service (trains 720-751).

Sacramento Project Improves Your Safety

Speaking of the track relocation project, the four new station tracks will improve passenger safety because the new boarding platforms will provide grade- separated access to the trains. Passengers will never have to cross a track in order to reach their train. When the improvements are complete, new electronic signs will direct patrons to the proper boarding areas, and new canopies will protect the passengers from the elements on the walkways, ramps and boarding areas.

A new walkway will be put in service on August 13.  It is an extended walk from what riders are used to, so until you’re used to the new path, I’d suggest adding an extra 10-15 minutes to get to your train.

Get on Board – a message to riders from the managing director (no.46 / June 2012)

Date July 5, 2012

Dear Valued Riders:
As Managing Director for the Capitol Corridor Joint Powers Authority (CCJPA), I want to welcome you aboard our trains and provide a status update of several of our initiatives to enhance your experience on the Capitol Corridor trains.

Latest on CCJPA’s Bicycle Access Program
Cab car conversions have just begun which, over the span of about two years, will configure all cab cars to expand storage for up to 13 bicycles. These converted cab cars are slated to be included in Capitol Corridor’s service as soon as each one is returned to the fleet.

At stations, the CCJPA is taking a three-pronged approach to make bicycle access easier to and from the train. We are:

  • evaluating an innovative program to introduce ‘membership-style’ (like Zip Car or City Carshare) folding bicycles at select stations;
  • researching ways to increase or supplement existing secure bicycle storage at stations; and
  • working with cities and communities who are implementing true bike-share programs where such facilities at the local train station can be a viable option.

Please note that the “education phase” for the bicycle access program will be phasing out in late summer and we’ll move on to the next phase.  We will announce when the education phase is over.  In the next phase of the program, the conductors will expect passengers who bring their bicycles on-board to safely store their bicycle outside of aisle-ways and to also secure them to the train. As some of you may have experienced during this first educational phase, it takes working with your fellow passengers with bicycles and with the conductors to ensure that on the most bicycle-crowded trains, we can safely accommodate the mobility and safety needs of all passengers. If you have any questions about how to safely and securely store your bicycle, please visit the Bikes on Board page.

Tech Update
In response to customer comments and feedback from staff and train crews, in late May Amtrak and CCJPA initiated updates and enhancements to our Wi-Fi and e-Ticketing programs to improve performance. Further improvements are planned over this summer and fall. Thank you for your insight and comments, which were used to implement these upgrades!

Governor’s Revise of FY12-13 State Budget Helps to Support Rail
Also in May, Governor Brown released his Revise of the FY12-13 Budget, which updates his draft budget issued in January 2012.  The good news for public transit users is state funding support for transit via the Public Transportation Account (PTA) remains unchanged from the January 2012 proposed budget. This indicates clear and strong support for transit from the Governor. In the FY12-13 budget, the funds in the PTA (as protected under voter approved Prop 22), are projected to provide $90 million to support operation of the three state-supported Intercity Passenger Rail (IPR) corridors (Capitol Corridor, San Joaquin, Pacific Surfliner).  Pursuant to the CCJPA’s Business Plan, the CCJPA’s operating service plan for FY12-13 is
30 weekday/22 weekend Capitol Corridor trains.

 Capitol Corridor Reaches 20 Millionth Rider Milestone
In June, the Capitol Corridor carried our 20 millionth rider! Unlike past ridership milestones, instead of singling out one passenger to mark this special occasion, the CCJPA commemorated reaching its 20 millionth rider mark by hosting a community focused celebration.  On June 11, we offered complimentary coffee and tea to all of our morning train riders, held a banner breaking ceremony at Sacramento Valley Station and officials welcomed riders who, in the spirit of community, lined up to donate food for families in need as part of the CCJPA’s “Fight Hunger One Stop at a Time” food drive.

CCJPA Board Members Steve Cohn and Jim Holmes joined me to thank loyal Capitol Corridor riders as they dropped off non-perishable food items.  I’d like to thank all of our riders for helping us reach this milestone!

In the past 20 years, by riding Capitol Corridor trains instead of driving, our 20 million riders removed 1.4 billion vehicle miles traveled (VMTs) off of congested Northern California highways, preventing approximately 150,000 metric tons of CO2 from entering our atmosphere. These achievements took a community effort which deserved a community celebration.

What’s Next?
As Capitol Corridor riders who use Sacramento Valley Station can see, the City of Sacramento together with the Union Pacific Railroad are close to completing the project to relocate the railroad tracks and boarding platforms for this station.  The new facilities will be located about 500 feet north of the present ones, and are currently planned to be in operation by mid-August of this year.

The project includes four new station tracks, which means that passenger safety will be improved since the new boarding platforms will provide grade- separated access to the trains. Passengers will never have to cross a track in order to reach their train.  New electronic signs will direct patrons to the proper boarding areas, and new canopies will protect the passengers from the elements on the walkways, ramps, and boarding areas. The project is expected to be completed by early August 2012.

In addition to the safety merits of improving this station, this project will allow us to implement a service plan that will reduce operating costs while maintaining high quality, service performance levels.

The City of Sacramento has recently announced that they were successfully awarded $15M in federal funding, to be matched with an additional $15M in local funding for Phase 2 of the Sacramento Station Project, which will rehabilitate the Sacramento Valley depot.  This funding will help secure the future of the historic depot by repairing and renovating the building, and by opening some of the unoccupied spaces to other uses.  For more information see visit the City of Sacramento’s press release.

We have come to the half-way mark in 2012 and I am grateful for your continued loyalty.  Many of you are working with us to comply with the Bicycle Access Program, enjoyed the months we’ve achieved our remarkable 94 percent on-time performance record and rode patiently on the rare days when we did not. Thank you for choosing the Capitol Corridor and helping to protect our environment.

Thank you for riding the Capitol Corridor!
David B. Kutrosky
CCJPA Managing Director