Capitol Corridor Breaks Annual Ridership Record

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.