Get On Board (formerly Message to Riders)
Number 43 ● July 2011
Dear Valued Riders:
The year is half over and I have a lot of news to share. First the very good news! Last month Governor Brown passed the State budget, which means State funding for Capitol Corridor operations is secure for this fiscal year. In addition, the budget provides the required match for the federal funding allocated for new rail cars. You may remember my May announcement of the U.S. Department of Transportation’s award of $68 million for state-of-the-art rail cars. Securing that federal grant depended on a State match, so the Governor’s budget is welcome news for passenger rail services throughout California. The next steps to procure these new cars are to develop and execute the agreement obligating the $68 million to the State of California.
The Capitol Corridor Joint Powers Authority (CCJPA) is especially thrilled to expand our rail car fleet as our upward performance trend is now at sixteen consecutive months where ridership and revenue have exceeded prior year monthly results. We need more rail cars to accommodate both our new and loyal customers.
Speaking of expansion, in November the Capitol Corridor will add another stop in the Silicon Valley. Caltrain is expected to complete their renovations and add a grade-separated center platform at the Caltrain Santa Clara Station in Fall 2011. Stopping at this station means Capitol Corridor trains will serve customers going to the San Jose/Mineta International Airport and Santa Clara University.
Also, we expect the Capitol Corridor wireless project will be completed, which means free internet access for our riders by the end of 2011! Currently, the prototype trains are being outfitted with wireless equipment. Once these trains are fine tuned, tested internally and pass muster, the rest of our fleet will be equipped.
Thanks for Fighting Hunger this Year!
We are grateful that so many people once again stepped up to the community plate to “Fight Hunger One Stop at Time.” We are proud to announce that this year’s food drive exceeded the results from last year’s efforts. Of the seven Capitol Corridor/Amtrak stations that hosted bins, similar to last year, Sacramento yielded the most donations. Donors who used that station gave 680 of the 1231 total pounds of food collected during the Fight Hunger One Stop at a Time campaign. In fact, donations in the smaller communities were up compared to last year as well:
• Davis Station donations went up 49 percent
• Martinez 54 percent; and in
• Emeryville we collected an amazing 207 percent more food!
Bikes on Board
A great number of our customers use bikes to access our trains to reach their final destination. While we welcome this green mode of transport, the CCJPA’s number one goal is the safe transport of passengers to their destinations. Our top priority, which is shared by Amtrak, our operating partner, is passenger and employee safety while traveling on Capitol Corridor trains. Safe bicycle storage on board Capitol Corridor trains is not only our concern, it is a requirement of federal regulatory agencies which govern passenger train travel, and therefore, we have raised our collective attention to on-train bicycle storage.
The demand for on-train bike storage space is tracking very closely with the recent rise in fuel costs as well as the continued surge in ridership. As such, the need for more bike storage space is at a premium on many Capitol Corridor trains. To this end we are working with Caltrans, the entity that owns the railcars, and Amtrak to address bikes on board–not only to increase bike capacity on Capitol Corridor trains, but on a new bicycle policy as well. This new policy is being developed by a working group consisting of CCJPA and Amtrak staff, plus Capitol Corridor bicycle users. We expect to roll out this new policy in the coming months.
When it comes to bicycle storage, there are individual measures which help our bicycle-using passengers collectively retain as much on-train bicycle capacity as possible. In addition, we recognize that many cyclists have solid suggestions to help create bicycle storage capacity on the train, so we welcome your constructive ideas. If you’d like to pass along your bike storage idea, feel free to contact us at [email protected]
Finally, I must speak to the recent spike of delays caused by trespasser incidents on our corridor. In June the Capitol Corridor experienced four trespasser incidents—three were fatalities—and we’ve had one fatality in July so far. These incidents are almost always avoidable and are devastating to the loved ones of the deceased, train crew members and the passengers onboard the trains. When near railroad tracks please follow rail safety practices:
Cross safely! The only safe place to cross railroad tracks is at a public crossing—designated by safety signs. Look both ways and listen before crossing train tracks. Expect a train at any time.
Don’t be distracted. Turn your cell phone and iPod or other MP3 players off when you’re near train tracks; texting or checking your emails can also be deadly distractions near the tracks. Trains are quieter than you think, go faster than they appear, and do not run on set schedules.
Never race a train. If you see a train coming, don’t try to ‘beat’ it, stay off the tracks. Also, an approaching train will always be closer and moving faster than you think
Avoid trespassing. Tracks, trestles and train yards are all private property. For your safety, we ask you to avoid socializing or ‘hanging out’ near railroad tracks.
Remember: Rail and recreation don’t mix! Never walk, bike, jog, or run down a train track; it’s illegal and it’s dangerous. By the time a locomotive engineer can see a person or a vehicle on the tracks, it is too late because trains can’t swerve! The train cannot stop quickly enough to avoid a collision.
In conclusion, despite the recent spike in these tragedies, I am thankful for the overall positive year we have had so far. We are fortunate that we have a solid fiscal structure, more riders on our trains and we’ve maintained the number one spot for on-time performance this year.
Thank you for your continued loyalty to the Capitol Corridor service. We strive to deliver you, our paying customer, a high-quality transportation experience. We welcome your comments; feel free to contact us via capitolcorridor.org or at 877-974-3322.
Thank you for riding the Capitol Corridor!
David B. Kutrosky
CCJPA Managing Director