Issue 42, December 2010

December 3, 2010

Dear Riders:
On behalf of the team at Capitol Corridor Joint Powers Authority (CCJPA), I’d like to wish you a joyful holiday season! In fact, if you’re on Train 538 on December 7th or Train 544 (between San Jose and Martinez) on December 9th come join me in the Café Car—where we will host our quarterly Rider Appreciation Events—so I may extend my season’s greetings to you in person!

The holiday season is often the time one reflects on the high points of the year while preparing for the next. From our perspective, the CCJPA has much to be thankful for this past year. Despite a shaky start, we’re ending 2010 on a positive note. Because of new and loyal passengers, ridership and revenue are steadily climbing. Our host railroad, Union Pacific Railroad (UPRR), has helped us achieve a stellar on-time performance (OTP) of 96%, which continues to make Capitol Corridor the nation’s OTP leader. We are pleased that this year you, the passengers, rated Capitol Corridor and Amtrak, our operating partner, the highest satisfaction levels since we began the bi-annual on-board surveys over ten years ago.

Completed Projects
Part of our customer service strategy is to improve communications with our riders and enhance security and safety on our trains, in the stations and along our corridor. Our 2010 projects included:

  • Introducing Capitol Corridor’s E-Updates program so passengers may receive real-time schedule changes and service alerts. More than 270 riders have visited capitolcorridor.org to sign up for this free service.
    Replacing the wall display board in the Sacramento station as well as the Passenger Informational Digital Signs (PIDS) at each station along the corridor. The new signs can carry more text and are easier to read.
    Using Proposition 1B (the voter-approved transportation bond) money to fund the completion of new fencing in Richmond and Oakland-Jack London Square which will help deter trespassers.
    Deploying our hand-held automated ticketing validation (ATV) device pilot program.
  • Looking Ahead In 2011

  • The CCJPA is committed to working with our service partners to retain and attract new riders, enhance passenger safety, maintain excellent service reliability and provide superior customer service. In 2011, we plan to:
    Use Proposition 1B funds toward installing fences at other UPRR-identified areas to prevent trespassers.
    Full deployment of ATV devices on all trains. The goal of the ATV project is to improve ease of ticketing for passengers. Implementation of these devices lays the groundwork for print-at-home ticketing once Amtrak launches its “E-ticketing” program.
    Work with Amtrak to install a wireless system onboard our train cars so our passengers may have free access to the internet while riding our trains.
  • Changes to the Board
    CCJPA Introduces New Chair and Vice-Chair
    On November 17, the CCJPA Board of Directors unanimously voted in Director Bob Franklin as CCJPA Chair and Jim Spering as CCJPA Vice Chair for the 2011-2012 term. Chair Franklin, who represents part of Contra Costa and Alameda counties, will have the distinction of concurrently serving as the Bay Area Rapid Transit District Board President in 2011 as well. He has served on both Boards since 2004 and brings a wealth of transportation and green initiatives to the dais. Vice Chair Spering is fondly known as the “father of Capitol Corridor” as he played a key role in establishing the service. He represents Solano County Board of Supervisors.

    Farewell to Directors Dickinson, Augustine and Chu
    Three members of CCJPA’s 16-member board will be leaving us in 2011: Roger Dickinson, Len Augustine and Dean Chu.

    I extend hearty congratulations to CCJPA Director Roger Dickinson, a leading progressive voice on the Sacramento County Board of Supervisors, who was recently elected to represent the 9th Assembly District. He has served on the CCJPA Board since 2000.

    I wish all the best to Director Augustine, who in July of this year announced his decision to retire and to not run for re-election. As former chair of the Solano Transportation Authority and long-time Mayor of Vacaville, the CCJPA benefited from his years of public service and transit leadership.

    Finally, I want to thank Dean Chu, Metropolitan Transportation Commissioner and former City of Sunnyvale Mayor, for his role in representing Santa Clara County on the CCJPA Board. Director Chu will finish his tenure on our board at the end of 2010. This was his second term on our Board as he also served as a CCJPA Director in 2006 and 2007.

    Act Now!
    Support Parity Between Parking & Transit Commuter Benefits
    Does your employer offer you pre-tax transit benefits? If you’re one of the thousands of employees who take advantage of the IRS increased transit benefit of $230/month, you may want to act today to help preserve it. The increased transit benefit, which puts it equal to the parking benefit, is set to expire on December 31, 2010. Please visit preservethelimit.com to add your voice to the thousands of others who have emailed their Congressperson or Senator asking them to permanently enact the $230 pre-tax transit limit.

    Happy Holidays
    Let me again wish you a joyful holiday season and extend our gratitude for your continued loyalty. We hope that we have succeeded in making your Capitol Corridor experience a pleasant one. Our continued goal is to deliver you, the paying customer, a high-quality transportation experience. If I don’t see you on one of our trains, please contact us via capitolcorridor.org or at 877-974-3322 to let us know how we’re doing!

    Season’s greetings,
    David B. Kutrosky
    CCJPA Managing Director

    Issue 41, September 2010

    September 22, 2010

    Dear Riders:
    Greetings from the Capitol Corridor team! As seasons change it serves to remind me that it’s time to send an updated Message to Riders.

    Although temperatures didn’t rise much this summer, Capitol Corridor’s performance and ridership did! Ridership began trending upward in May with a 1.4% increase compared to the same period in 2009. In June, ridership jumped 7%. Additionally, a remarkable 5% more riders chose to ride the train instead of drive their cars in both July and August.

    Also in July and August, the Capitol Corridor attained a 97% and 96% on-time performance respectively—the best in our history. Kudos to the Union Pacific Railroad (UPRR) and Amtrak, our rail partners, for helping us achieve this milestone!

    Tips for Riders
    With more people on the trains, here are a few of our top tips to help your experience on Capitol Corridor go smoother:
    Please be ready to present your ticket to the conductor once you are seated, or to the motorcoach bus driver at the time of boarding. Even if you are a frequent rider, hold a multi-ride ticket and are familiar with the conductor or driver, you must still present your ticket every time.
    It’s a good idea to purchase tickets in advance and arrive early at stations as parking is limited at many stations.
    Please make sure to have a valid government-issued identification card with you when purchasing tickets and at all times when riding the train.
    Riders are limited to two pieces of carry-on baggage. Each carry-on bag must weigh less than 50 pounds and be tagged with your name and address.
    We ask that you be considerate of your fellow passengers and keep your shoes off the seats.

    September is Rail Safety Month in California
    California lawmakers have designated September as “Rail Safety Month.” The Capitol Corridor Joint Powers Authority (CCJPA) is working with Amtrak, Union Pacific and Caltrans Division of Rail staff to build public awareness about safety near railroad tracks. Rail Safety Month gives us the opportunity to remind the public that they need to keep safety in mind each time they approach a rail crossing—trains can’t swerve to avoid people walking, playing or illegally crossing railroad tracks.

    Since the very first Rail Safety Month was declared in 2009, rail trespassing incidents involving Capitol Corridor trains decreased 58% compared to the prior year. We want that trend to keep spiraling downwards, so we ask that you please follow these safety precautions and share them with your friends and family:

  • Cross tracks ONLY at designated pedestrian or roadway crossings. Observe and obey all warning signs and signals.
  • Make sure to look both ways when crossing railroad tracks at designated walkways. If you see a train coming, don’t try to ‘beat’ it, stay off the tracks.
  • Always expect a train at every railroad crossing intersection. Freight trains do not travel on a predictable schedule and schedules for passenger trains change.
  • If there are rails on the railroad ties, assume that the track is in use, even if there are weeds or the track looks “rusty.”
  • Modern trains are quieter than ever, with no telltale “clackety-clack” sound. They can move in either direction at any time. Also, an approaching train will always be closer and moving faster than you think.
  • Don’t socialize on or near train tracks.
  • Remember:
    Stay off the tracks, stay alive!

    CCJPA Seeks Federal High Speed Intercity Passenger Rail Funds to Improve Service
    In my June Message to Riders, I shared CCJPA’s investment plan to enhance our service. On August 5th we threw our hat in the competitive grant process ring for the Fiscal Year 2010 (FY 2010) Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) High Speed Intercity Passenger Rail (HSIPR) funding awards. CCJPA submitted an application for $57 million that if awarded, will allow us to increase service frequency between Auburn and Sacramento by adding one additional round trip as well as improve reliability between Fremont and Newark. If we are successful in getting FRA HSIPR dollars, UPRR will commit $10 million of their own resources to complete the track upgrades for the added train to/from Auburn. This match of private funding helps put the CCJPA’s application on the competitive edge as it shows this project can create jobs and be up-and-running sooner rather than later.

    Our application also includes upgrades for our South Bay passengers as well. We hope to get funding to lengthen the Fremont platform, which will improve train meets at that station. The improvements include connecting the sidings between Mowry Avenue and Automall Parkway, which will improve reliability for trains operating between Oakland and San Jose.

    These FY2010 project applications set the groundwork to link the Capitol Corridor to the future High Speed Rail system at Sacramento and San Jose stations.

    Get Connected to Capitol Corridor!
    This summer, the CCJPA team enhanced communications with our passengers by migrating to a new digital subscription service that allows users to subscribe to one or more Capitol Corridor-related topics. Through the E-Updates programs you’ll still get the CC Rail e-newsletter, but you can also sign up to receive schedule changes and service alerts. Service alerts for major train delays can be delivered to you via email or SMS text messages.

    Thank you for your continued loyalty. We strive to be your preferred travel choice. Many of you ride our trains for business travel and we hope you choose Capitol Corridor for your leisure travel as well. Take advantage of the discounts we are offering to seniors, families with kids, group travel, and A’s and Raider fans. Details of all our discounted promotions can be found at capitolcorridor.org.

    We consider customer service and passenger safety to be our top priorities. Our goal is to deliver you, the paying customer, a high-quality transportation experience. We’d like to know if we are successful in meeting that goal. Let us know how we are doing via our website at capitolcorridor.org or by phone at 1-877-9-RIDECC.

    Sincerely,
    David B. Kutrosky
    CCJPA Managing Director

    Issue 40, June 2010

    May 25, 2010

    Dear Riders –
    This is only my third message since taking the helm of Capitol Corridor and I’m stunned to realize that 2010 is nearly at its midway mark! I have much to share in this latest “Message to Riders.”

    Fight Hunger – One Stop at a Time
    The Capitol Corridor Joint Powers Authority (CCJPA), in partnership with our colleagues at Amtrak and six northern California food banks, will embark on its very first food drive to help “Fight Hunger – One Stop at a Time.” From June 1 to June 15, 2010, Capitol Corridor and Amtrak will have food collection bins at the following stations: Sacramento, Davis, Martinez, Emeryville, San Francisco Ferry Building, Oakland Jack London Square and San Jose.
    The beginning of summer is a critical time to replenish food banks. During the school year, many needy children are served meals at school, but they lose that resource when classes break for summer. The CCJPA wants to fight hunger by asking our passengers and the communities along our corridor to donate nutritious, non-perishable food items at the stations listed above.
    You can also help by publicizing the food drive. At staffed stations, ask your station agent for a handful of our Fight Hunger flyers or bookmarks and please share the information with your fellow train riders, friends or co-workers.

    State Funding to Support Intercity Passenger Rail in Latest Budget Proposal
    In my last issue I reported that a transit-saving bill was on the Governor’s desk to include in the state budget for Fiscal Year 2011. Transit-supportive California lawmakers responded to the Governor’s initial state budget, which did little to support California’s Intercity Passenger Rail (CA IPR) program, by proposing to increase sales tax on diesel. This solution supports the CA IPR Program and provides the ability for CA IPR services to apply for Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) High Speed Intercity Passenger Rail (HSIPR) grants that are available under our current FY2010 federal appropriation. Fortunately, the Governor accepted the diesel tax proposal; thus once the budget is final, the CA IPR program should be financially “safe” for now as the diesel sales tax proceeds will provide a stable program of annual operating funds to support the existing Capitol Corridor service levels and future expansion.
    While we’re on the topic of expansion and federal appropriations, the CCJPA is in the process of developing several significant corridor applications for the FY 2010 round of FRA HSIPR grant funding. We are applying for funds that will allow us to increase service frequency between Auburn and Sacramento (one additional round trip) and between Oakland and San Jose (four additional round trips). We will file these applications this summer, and if we are awarded the grants, our intent is to implement the Auburn service expansion as soon as funding is secured; whereas the more extensive service expansion to San Jose will require construction of numerous projects that will be implemented over the next five years.

    Reinvesting to Improve Our Service
    The CCJPA has a long history of using its resources to reinvest in our system to expand service, enhance communications with our riders and improve security. Recently, the CCJPA funded construction of new crossovers on the Union Pacific rail line. Crossovers benefit our riders by improving train operations and reducing delays. In Emeryville, two new crossovers are being constructed which will reduce/eliminate delays that sometimes occur when more than one train needs to access the station. We expect to complete the Emeryville crossovers in June. Similarly, at Benicia we completed an additional crossover in April. The two crossovers along that span of track will improve train operations around the Benicia industrial facilities by reducing delays the Capitol Corridor sometimes experiences while waiting for freight trains to serve these facilities. Here’s an update of planned Capitol Corridor projects and activities:

    Customer Communications
    Passenger Service Alerts program: In response to rider feedback, CCJPA is working with a vendor to improve communications with you via text message alerts (SMS) and email. In June we expect to implement Phase 1, which will migrate our current e-newsletter, CC Rail Mail to the new service. A trial program will also offer subscription-based email or SMS alerts about major train delays and service changes.
    Sign Upgrades: By June 1 we will have replaced all of the electronic platform message signs. The new signs are being installed, which will be followed by software upgrades to expand the display to four lines of text to convey detailed real-time service information to you at our platforms.
    Sacramento Interior Electronic Message Board Replacement: By mid-July we expect to complete the board replacement in Sacramento station. This board is the large display which shows train data to our riders. The upgraded board will have less glare and be easier to read.

    Enhanced Security
    Security Cameras at Unstaffed Stations: This summer we will put a Security Camera Installation contract out to bid and expect to have cameras and related security equipment completely installed at unstaffed stations by the end of this year.

    As always, it’s our pleasure to serve you. Please take advantage of the many discounts we are currently offering for seniors, kids, group travel, J.M. Barrie’s Peter Pan at Ferry Park and A’s fans. Details of all our summer promotions can be found at www.capitolcorridor.org.
    At the Capitol Corridor we pride ourselves in delivering a high-quality transportation experience. As paying customers you are entitled to the best we can offer. Feel free to drop us a note and let us know how we are doing via our website at www.capitolcorridor.org or by phone at 1-877-9-RIDECC.

    Sincerely,
    David B. Kutrosky
    CCJPA Managing Director

    Issue 39, March 30

    March 12, 2010

    Dear Riders –We are well into 2010 and there is much to share with you! You’ll be pleased to know that Union Pacific Railroad’s (UPRR) multi-year track infrastructure project, which affected Capitol Corridor service in January, February and March should be completed by the time you read this message. Although this work is necessary to keep the railroad in good condition, the service plan didn’t go as smoothly as we had hoped.
    I sincerely apologize to any Capitol Corridor rider who may have experienced connection delays as a result of the latest bus bridge we operated between the Martinez and Jack London Square stations. Please be assured that we are doing a “Lessons Learned” on this bus bridge and should we ever need to implement another extended bus bridge (hopefully not for a couple of years) it will operate much smoother.
    The good news is, once this project is complete, UPRR will be done with major track work for this year! The better news is overall, in January and February the Capitol Corridor achieved a 93% on-time performance record. Year-to-date we have an on-time performance measure of 92%, which makes Capitol Corridor the most reliable multi-frequency Amtrak service in the nation.

    Capitol Corridor Scores Stimulus Funds

    For the first time in our history, the Capitol Corridor Joint Powers Authority (CCJPA) will receive $29.2 million in federal funding for three projects in Northern California to improve Capitol Corridor service. In January, Congresswoman Doris Matsui (D-Sacramento) joined us to announce that federal High Speed/Intercity Passenger Rail (HSIPR) stimulus funds were allocated to projects along our corridor. These HSIPR funds were awarded through a competitive grant program administered by the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) within the U.S. Department of Transportation.
    $6.2 million was awarded to the Sacramento Rail Relocation Project which will fill a funding gap and allow for the installation of a new passenger platform as part of the City of Sacramento’s
    intermodal station development program. The remaining $23 million will be allocated to easing bottleneck conditions between Sacramento and Davis—known as the Yolo Crossover—and to
    expand the San Jose station platforms and tracks. Upgrading station boarding platforms will help address passenger capacity issues and promote intermodal transit use, and the Yolo Crossover will help improve Capitol Corridor train reliability by improving meets with freight and other passenger trains.
    Not only will this $29 million federal grant improve Capitol Corridor service, it positions our San Jose and Sacramento stations to become major connections with the planned high-speed rail trains that will serve these stations.
    State Lawmakers Approve Budget Plan that Supports Public Transit
    The Governor’s proposed FY 2010-11 State Budget would abolish California’s sales tax on gas. Getting rid of state gas taxes would eliminate the Public Transportation Account (PTA), the sole source of operating and capital funds for the Capitol Corridor and the other two intercity passenger rail (IPR) services (San Joaquin and Pacific Surfliner). While there would be enough PTA funds to finance the state’s successful IPR services for two years, in FY 2012-13 these train services would compete for funding in the State’s underfunded General Fund. If the Governor’s proposed budget passes, California’s IPR operators will have nowhere to turn as IPR trains are supported only by state transit funds—no local, regional or federal funds support our day-to-day operations or capital programs. With this potential funding shortfall, there would be massive service cuts/reductions to Capitol Corridor, as well as lost opportunities to seek federal grants to help us expand our service.
    Fortunately, the state Assembly has come to our rescue! In response to the proposed Governor’s budget plan above, transit-supportive Assemblymembers developed and enacted legislative bills that support the CA IPR Program and provide the Capitol Corridor the opportunity to apply for federal capital grants, similar to the ARRA High Speed Intercity Passenger Rail (HSIPR) capital program grants awarded to us in January. At the time this message went to print, these transit-supportive budget solutions were passed by the Assembly and Senate and are on the Governor’s desk for review and hopefully signature.

    Fare Increase Effective March 30, 2010
    Now that I’ve shared good news, historical news and legislative news–I must segue to the less-than-good news. The poor economy and the “Furlough Fridays” that are imposed on state government workers continue to contribute to an overall ridership reduction of 9%, with the furloughs contributing to over 5% of our total ridership decline. To maintain our current service level, effective March 30, 2010, all ticket prices will go up 2% for city pairs between Sacramento and San Jose. This modest fare increase helps us meet our revenue and farebox operating ratio projections for this fiscal year. The Capitol Corridor train service depends on two sources of operating revenue: passenger fares and annually allocated state funds. Given the state’s dire financial situation, it is becoming clear that a slight fare increase is required to meet this year’s revenue projections and maintain our current service levels.
    Please know that we tried to lessen the blow to your wallets as much as we could. We cancelled the November 2009 fare increase and postponed and lowered this adjustment—it was initially planned to be a 3% increase effective February 2010.
    We truly appreciate your continued loyalty and thank you for continued patronage during the weeks of track work. We consider Capitol Corridor to be your service and we strive to provide the best service that we can.

    Sincerely,
    David B. Kutrosky
    CCJPA Managing Director

    Issue 38, December 2009

    December 14, 2009

    Dear Riders:
    Last month, the Capitol Corridor Joint Powers Authority (CCJPA) Board of Directors bid farewell to retiring Managing Director Eugene (Gene) Skoropowski, and I was appointed as his replacement. As an introduction, I worked with Gene for 10 years, the last four as his deputy. Gene was a great mentor, friend and colleague and it was a pleasure to work closely with someone who is considered a leader in the passenger rail industry. Gene successfully guided the CCJPA team for the last 10 years, and I am looking forward to continue our success into the future.

    As your new Managing Director, I am honored to be at the helm of the management team and excited to sustain and build upon the upward performance trends the Capitol Corridor rail service has achieved. I have been with the CCJPA since its inception in December 1996 and was one of the first employees on the team who began managing the Capitol Corridor service in October 1998. Since that time, the CCJPA has steadily built ridership and a solid track record of financial and operational success for the Capitol Corridor. Our annual ridership has more than tripled and service levels quadrupled – from 8 daily train trips between Sacramento and San Jose to the current schedule of 32 daily trips.

    To our regular riders, I want you to know how muchI and the CCJPA team and Board of Directors value your support and your feedback. Our success was made possible because we made a commitment to offer you superior customer service and followed an intercity passenger rail plan that focuses on operational efficiency, safety and security, collaborative planning and partnerships. It’s my goal to continue this vision and improve our service delivery, reliability and customer satisfaction.

    Thank you for being loyal partners, not only in our success but also in our efforts to provide a service that protects the environment—taking cars off the road, and reducing gasoline usage, carbon dioxide emissions and other automobile-related pollutants.

    End-of-Year Summary
    As the year comes to a close and a new one approaches, it’s a fitting time to reflect on what we’ve accomplished. The challenging economic climate affected all sectors of the travel and transportation industry, including intercity passenger rail. Although our performance in 2009 was not as strong as 2008 —when high gas prices and a stronger economy drove record ridership—we continued the positive growth trend from 2007 and years past, and reinforced our record of prudently managing public funds to deliver a high-quality passenger rail service. One major accomplishment was our impressive improvement in on-time performance. This commitment from Union Pacific Railroad allowed the Capitol Corridor to achieve an all-time high of 93%, making the Capitol Corridor the most reliable multi-frequency train service in the Amtrak national system. Also, customer satisfaction scores continued to improve with the continued hard work and dedication from our operating partner, Amtrak, in delivering Capitol Corridor passengers the best passenger rail experience in the nation.
    In our surveys, you, the riders, let us know that protecting the environment was one of the top reasons they choose to ride the Capitol Corridor. In November, we joined several clean-air partners to unveil the cleanest passenger locomotive in the nation. Updating the fleet to cleaner technology is another way to maximize the environmental benefits of rail travel and to help maintain healthful air in the communities along our corridor.

    This year, we partnered with Caltrans Rail (the owner of rail cars and locomotives) to make customer-related improvements to our fleet. In addition to adding new bike racks to our cab cars, train car interiors were refreshed with new upholstery, carpets and curtains to make your ride more comfortable.

    Plans for 2010
    In 2010, we will continue to seek funding to enhance our service to implement safety, communications and reliability-improvement projects. In addition, we hope to define a plan with Union Pacific Railroad and secure future capital funding sufficient to meet the CCJPA’s goal for expanded train service to San Jose and Roseville/Auburn.

    In order to continue our stellar on-time performance record, Union Pacific maintenance crews will again be performing an extensive two-part tie-renewal project between January and March. Phase one will take place from mid-January to mid-February where UPRR work crews will be working between Roseville and west Davis. For this period, some late-morning and mid-day trains will be bus bridged between Sacramento and Suisun. No changes are planned for the busier early morning and late afternoon/evening trains. The CCJPA is working with Amtrak and Union Pacific to develop a schedule that will have the least impact on these busy trains and hope to release that schedule by the end of December.

    Phase two of the tie-renewal project will take place between Richmond and Oakland Jack London stations from approximately the end of February to mid-March. Once again, we are still working to find a schedule that will allow our busiest trains to travel through the work area. As this portion of route is the most heavily utilized with numerous users (UPRR freight, San Joaquin trains, Amtrak long distance trains), we may have to extensively modify our schedule to accommodate the work crews.

    Please remember that these intensive maintenance projects are to keep the tracks we operate on safe and in a good state of repair, thereby ensuring a continuing high quality, reliable ride on the Capitol Corridor trains.

    Watch for updates as we solidify dates for phase two of this project. We know you are anxious to plan your schedule and as soon as we come to an agreement on the schedule with our operating partners, we will release it to you.

    Happy Holidays!
    Throughout the past 10 years we have continuously improved our service, and I’m eager to continue CCJPA’s upward trend for the next10 years. We’ve attained a solid performance record that makes us a viable transportation option for those who travel between Placer County and Silicon Valley. As always, we are committed to improving the quality of life for our passengers and the communities we serve by providing safe, frequent, reliable, affordable intercity train service–and a “greener” way to travel. On behalf of the CCJPA and our member agencies and partners, I thank you for your ongoing loyalty to the Capitol Corridor. We are honored to serve you. May you have a safe and joyful holiday season, as well as a happy, healthy, and prosperous 2010!

    Sincerely,
    David B. Kutrosky
    CCJPA Managing Director