For the fourth consecutive month, ridership increased on the Capitol Corridor over the corresponding month in 2013. A total of 119,425 passengers rode Capitol Corridor trains in July 2014, representing a 2.8% increase compared to July 2013. Revenue for July 2014 was the highest in the history of the service for July and represented an increase of 1.3% compared to July 2013. The year to-date (YTD) Operating Ratio remained at 52%, slightly below the business plan standard of 53% due to revenues being 7.3% below budget projections. YTD On-time Performance (OTP) remains a superb 96%, maintaining Capitol Corridor’s distinction as the most reliable service in the Amtrak system.
The following are ridership highlights from July 2014:
- Weekend ridership was up by 1% over weekend ridership in July 2013. This is attributed to the re-introduction of the Take 5 (small group/family) online fare promotion.
- Weekday ridership increased 3% compared to July 2013, which was primarily due to double-digit growth for the trains traveling to and from San Jose/Silicon Valley.
- Detailed data for stations through July 2014 has not yet been received from Amtrak.
Effective July 28, 2014, the CCJPA implemented a revised weekend train schedule that rearranged trains into and out of San Jose to better serve events at Levi’s Stadium in Santa Clara.
Customer Service Program Upgrades
CCJPA Bicycle Access Program: With the retrofitting of the 8300-series cab cars in the Northern California fleet for added bicycle storage and the installation of Positive Train Control hardware completed in May 2014, most Capitol Corridor weekday trainsets now have two (2) cars with enhanced bike storage, nearly doubling the bike capacity on these trains.
Caltrans Rail is about to initiate a program of modifications for HVAC and flooring in all first-generation bi-level rail cars, which means that it will be approximately 36 months before CCJPA will be able to consistently have two bicycle cars on each trainset. The rotation cycle of the equipment will mean that some of the trains with higher bicycle use will have, at times, less than optimal bicycle storage capacity.
The at-station bicycle facilities are one step closer to receiving the state funding allocated to install e-lockers and folding bicycle lease systems and are on track for launch in 2015.
Improvements to CCJPA Train Status Feature on Website: A vendor has been selected to implement upgrades to the train status feature on the CCJPA website. Once the selected vendor is formally under contract, it is anticipated that these updates will be done in six to eight weeks, and the first element will be a visual map display of train status.
- The Take 5 offer is in effect through mid-November.
- 25% discount offers for Oakland A’s baseball, Oakland Raiders, Cal Football and Levi’s Stadium/Santa Clara are currently in effect.
- “Partnering with Visit Oakland” to promote travel to Oakland from the Sacramento area
Safety Fences: Construction has been completed on a total of 15,802 feet of fencing that has been constructed along the Capitol Corridor route in several locations, including West Sacramento, Sacramento, Suisun, Oakland, and Hayward.
Security Cameras at Capitol Corridor Stations: With initial engineering design complete, installation will begin for camera and surveillance equipment at the Auburn, Rocklin, Roseville, Suisun, Martinez, Emeryville, Oakland Jack London, and Fremont stations.
Platform Safety Upgrades: CCJPA and Amtrak staff have begun a program of safety access upgrades at selected Capitol Corridor train stations, which include, but are not limited to, replacing broken platform tactile edges, repainting platform tactile edges, restriping yellow safety lines along the main platform, repainting safety text along platforms, and installing safety signs. After the Davis station was completed in May 2014, upgrades to the Suisun, Roseville, and Fremont-Centerville stations were completed in June 2014. The next stations to receive safety upgrades are Berkeley, Great America/Santa Clara, Hayward, Oakland-Coliseum, Richmond, and Auburn.
Sacramento to Roseville 3rd-Track Environmental Review/Preliminary Engineering: This project is officially in the environmental review process which started with the July 1, 2014 release of the Notice of Preparation (NOP). On July 16 and 17, 2014, two public scoping meetings were held in the Sacramento and Roseville area, respectively, as well as via an online, to provide a forum for commenting on the project. Two additional on-train scoping meetings were held on July 23 on train 536 and on July 24 on train 529. Additional opportunities for public input will be provided in fall 2014 and at future steps in the environmental documentation process.
Oakland-San Jose Phase 2 Track Project: Staff continues its negotiations with UPRR to determine the precise project mix relative to support the increased frequency of Capitol Corridor trains to/from San Jose (up to 11 daily round-trip trains). These discussions are supported by the California State Transportation Agency (CalSTA), which is responsible for the State Rail Modernization, which includes the Capitol Corridor service. Geographically, the Oakland to San Jose Phase 2 Projects can be split into northern and southern sections – southern projects between Newark and San Jose, and northern projects between Fremont and Oakland. Generally, the intent of these projects is to add a second track to the single-track segments in each section. A first segment is being explored that will attempt to ensure that key modifications are made around the Great America station to accommodate the expected demand for sporting and entertainment events at the new Levi’s Stadium.
Outlook – Closing
Ten months into FY2014, and the performance of the Capitol Corridor is steadily improving compared to the first quarter of the fiscal year. Ridership and revenues have been on the rise over the last four months, expenses continue to be slightly below budget, OTP remains the best in the Amtrak system, and customer satisfaction continues to be one of the highest in the nation.
With revenues lower than current budget-year projections, the YTD Operating Ratio is 51%, slightly below the FY2014 goal of 53%. Customer satisfaction (per Amtrak’s monthly mail-in survey) has notched above last year’s results, and Capitol Corridor remains among the top five in the Amtrak system. OTP continues to be a bright spot, with YTD reliability of 96% (best in the nation and in the history of the service.)
With the enactment of the State’s Cap and Trade Program, there is a path towards a sustained stream of capital funding for the Capitol Corridor and other transit services. To that end, the CCJPA will be participating with our colleagues in the transit industry in the development of the guidelines for the investment of these Cap and Trade revenues for transit/intercity passenger rail projects/services.