Issue 26, July 7, 2006

July 7, 2006

Message from the Director

From me to you…

I am going to discuss only two issues in this Message. The first is the great news about expanded train service and the new schedules that will go into effect on August 28. The other is a plea for cooperation from you, our riders. It is a follow-up to my discussion about seat occupancy in the last Message.
Well it is finally going to happen! More trains to/from San Jose, every day. We worked hard to utilize our train sets and the Amtrak crews as efficiently as possible to give you the service you have asked for, and have long awaited.
We will now offer a total of 32 weekday trains, and 22 weekend/holiday trains. Long-time riders will remember that less than eight years ago, there were only 4 trains each way.
We have worked hard to provide you with as much service as we can, given the constraints of available locomotives and coaches and limited state funding. A big thank you is also in order for our partners in this effort: Amtrak, Caltrans, and Union Pacific Railroad. Union Pacific’s completion of the State-funded construction projects between Oakland and San Jose has made this service expansion possible. Like they say on highway projects, “These are your tax dollars at work.”

More Ways to San Jose

Weekdays, the first two trains to San Jose will stay in their existing slots, but there will be a later morning train (for those late sleepers) arriving in San Jose at 10:00am, and another that arrives at 1:15pm. A new mid-late afternoon train will get to San Jose at 6:45pm. Existing trains will continue to run in about the same time slots as they do now. Trip times between Oakland and San Jose will be reduced by 5-10 minutes. Heading north, existing trains will stay about where they are. However, there will be a new departure from San Jose at 9:10 am, and an earlier afternoon train at 3:05 pm. The “last bus” will be transformed into the “last train,” leaving San Jose at 7:15 pm. This last train is probably the single most-requested service we have had on the route.
On weekends, the schedule will be the same as now, but with the addition of an afternoon departure from San Jose at 4:25 pm (the same as the new weekday departure time) and an arrival at 6:45 pm in San Jose, again, the same as the new weekday train.
Nearly all the San Jose trains will operate directly to/from Sacramento via Oakland. We are still finalizing the schedule, so there may be minor changes to what I’ve listed here, but overall, we are very pleased to bring you additional service. New schedules will be posted in advance at all stations. Some train numbers will change, even if the train times remain unchanged.

More trains to/from Sacramento, too!

Weekdays, the schedule will increase from 12 trains each way to 16.From Sacramento, additional morning trains will leave at 7:00 am, and 8:30 am. Existing train times are revised for later morning trains at 9:20 am, and 10:10 am. The big hole between 2:10 pm and 4:40 pm from Sacramento to Oakland (and San Jose) will be filled with a new departure at 3:35 pm and a new train at 7:40 pm. The last train will run a half-hour later at 9:10 pm. Going to Sacramento, there will be a new early bird train from Oakland at 4:30 am, arriving in Sacramento at 6:30 am. The current 10:45 am train from Oakland will run earlier at 10:15 am. Afternoon departures from Oakland will be at 12:15, 1:25, 2:50, 3:30, 4:10, 4:50, and 5:30 pm, a major improvement. The 3:30 train will still run through to Roseville and Auburn. There will also be a new later train from Oakland to Sacramento at 9:20 pm, again, by popular request.
On weekends, service will increase from 9 trains to 11 trains each way. As with weekdays, the two added round-trips will fill big gaps in afternoon and evening service. The 3:35 pm departure from Sacramento will go all the way to San Jose, just as it will on weekdays. A new 7:10 pm train from Sacramento will provide added choices for riders to travel to the Bay Area, and connect by bus to points south as far as Santa Barbara. From Oakland to Sacramento there will be new trains leaving Oakland at 4:25 pm, and 7:55 pm, again filling service gaps. And, the train to Roseville and Auburn will operate two hours later on weekends/holidays, giving day train-travelers two more hours in San Jose, San Francisco or Sacramento on weekends. Again, this last change is among the most popular rider requested changes.

Joint Ticketing with San Joaquin trains

As an added bonus, by arrangement with Caltrans (California Department of Transportation, Division of Rail), all passengers between Oakland and Martinez will be able to use any train operating between those two points using any valid Capitol Corridor or San Joaquin ticket. For riders in this busy part of our corridor, this will offer you 20 trains per weekday in each direction, or 40 weekday travel choices. San Joaquin trains stop at Oakland, Emeryville, Richmond and Martinez. They DO NOT stop in Berkeley. These San Joaquin trains will now be shown in the Capitol Corridor Timetable as a convenience to our riders.

Seat Occupancy

Now for the “flip side” of all this good news. We need your help and cooperation to continue to improve the Capitol Corridor service, and to use all the state-owned trains in the most efficient manner possible (to generate as much farebox revenue and keep fare increases as low as possible). I wrote about this issue in my last Message. Please do not be a “Seat Hog.” We try to provide every passenger with a seat. There are more seats on every train we run than there are passengers, even on those described as “crowded”. These trains are only “crowded” (meaning riders cannot find a seat without someone or something in it) because passengers are placing themselves or their belongings on more than one seat.
Please, limit yourself to one seat so that others may be able to sit. A seat with a person in it generates revenue to help us run the Capitol Corridor. A seat with “stuff” or legs and feet traveling on one ticket denies us the revenue from that seat. We need to fill as many seats as possible to generate revenue, otherwise YOUR fare will have to be increased because a paying passenger’s seat is filled with “non-revenue” stuff. So please help here. Use the overhead bins/racks to stow your extra belongings. Conductors may ask you to move your things to make room for others who are looking for seatsóplease cooperate. If you want to stretch out, take a window seat, but leave the seat next to you free for another rider.
I am personally riding those trains I get complaints about, and I am counting all seats filled with stuff or extended bodies occupying seats that should be available for paying customers. Soon, you can expect me personally to be asking you to remove these items to make room for other passengers. It is not a job I relish, but if I need to be a “church usher” on the trains, that’s what I will be doing. That is how important this issue is right now.
I ask, beg, and plead for your help and cooperation on this issue. It is key to our continued success.
We hope you are looking forward to the added service, and as always, we appreciate your continued patronage.

Issue 25, April 13, 2006

April 13, 2006

Message from the Director

From me to you…

How are things going now?

I probably don’t have to tell you that service performance has improved dramatically since my February “doom and gloom” message. We are now averaging well above 80% on-time even with some remaining slow orders, some maintenance and construction work, lots of rain (which hopefully will go away soon!), and just as much freight and passenger traffic along the Capitol Corridor Route as at any time in recent memory.

So, what has changed?

Several things: The major track improvement program between San Jose and Oakland was largely completed by Union Pacific (UP). Only selected street-crossing work remains, and this work will be done on weekends. Also, UP has implemented some management changes in its Omaha Dispatching Center, and track maintenance crews have worked to catch up with the slow orders imposed early in the year, mostly due to the rainy weather. This series of events has really made a positive difference in the delivery of on-time performance of our trains. Again, we aren’t there yet, but we are clearly moving in the right direction.

We are sorry for the Winter delays

To sincerely apologize to you, our riders, and to invite back those who had given up on us, we are offering a discount of 10% on the purchase of your May 2006 Monthly Tickets (they went on sale on April 16), and are also offering a 10% reduction in the price of 10-Ride Tickets sold between April 16 and May 15. You can pick the start date of your 10-ride ticket, and the tickets are good for 45 days.

Are there grace periods on tickets?

THERE ARE NO GRACE PERIODS ON TICKETS. PERIOD.

There is a long-standing Amtrak and Capitol Corridor policy regarding the dates during which tickets are valid. Tickets are valid ONLY for the dates indicated on the ticket, after that, they have NO VALUE. When an expired ticket is presented, the conductor must collect that ticket and charge an applicable regular one-way fare for travel. The passenger is entitled to keep the coupon stub receipt only.I am addressing this issue because some passengers have become angered at the conductor when asked to pay the regular full fare when their out-of-date ticket is not accepted. PLEASE abide by the rules. A conductor can lose his/her job for failure to abide by these long-established rules. Discounted tickets are offered as an incentive for frequent travel, and abuse of the rules jeopardizes that benefit for everyone. Just as it is when traveling by airplane, tickets have a valid time period and are NOT valid for use outside the dates printed on the ticket. Again, please abide by the rules. I trust I have cleared up any misunderstanding on this issue. This same information will be printed in our Timetable so that everyone is aware of the policy and guidelines of use of discounted tickets.

Why can’t I find a seat on some trains?

I have received several complaints about lack of available seats on some trains. Yes, some trains are very crowded, particularly train #523 and train #538. In fact, train #538 handles more passengers than any other train we operate. That is why you will often see an extra car (if we have it available) on Friday nights. We handle about 1,000 more people on a Friday than any other day of the week.

How crowded is it?

It is sometimes difficult to find a seat, but it is usually because people who are paying for only one seat are occupying two or more seats with their body or their belongings. This situation is neither right nor fair.
I am asking all our riders to PLEASE MAKE ROOM FOR OTHER RIDERS TO SIT DOWN. The ability to accommodate more riders on our trains is essential if we are to generate the revenue we need to control fare increases and improve service. We have a limited number of coaches, so we must deploy what we have in the most efficient way possible. We ask for your cooperation. Empty seats are being counted at the maximum load points (when there are the highest number of people on board) on every train to try to deploy the right number of seats on each train. The general policy is never to have a train with more than 80% of its seats occupied at its maximum load point, and to try to increase the number of seats when that load point gets to 72% of available revenue seats.

Again, we need your help.

We aren’t magicians who can make more train cars appear overnight. We are desperately trying to deliver you the best service we can, but frankly, from my own countings on trains, there are a lot of potentially available seats if “stuff” (e.g. feet, pillows, entire bodies) are relocated to allow each paying passenger to occupy one seat. If you want to pay for a second seat, please inform the conductor when your ticket is collected, and he/she will gladly sell you the extra seat, and will issue you a second seat-check for the additional seat. Our seats give you a lot more room than in any airplane, and we will try not to stuff you into about two square feet of floor space, as do airplanes. But we do need your cooperation to make efficient use of the state-owned train cars and the seats that are in them.

So what does the August schedule look like?

A new timetable comes out on April 24, 2006 with minor changes to schedule. However, the August 28, 2006 schedule will reflect a major increase in frequency of service. Every day there will be 14 trains (7 each way) between Sacramento and San Jose. On weekdays there will be 32 trains (16 each way) between Oakland and Sacramento, and 22 trains (11 each way) on weekends and holidays. There will still be only the two daily trains (1 each way) between Sacramento and Auburn.
Proposed Fall 2006 Schedule

Issue 24, Feb. 10, 2006

February 10, 2006

Message from the Director

From me to you…

What has happened to the reliability of our Capitol Corridor train service???
To borrow a line from The Kingston Trio’s 1950’s hit song Charlie on the MTA: “These are the times that try men’s souls.”
This Message is, without a doubt, the most difficult one I have had to write to you-our riders and our customers. A year ago, on-time Capitol Corridor performance was higher than it has ever been, and Union Pacific’s dispatching performance was nearly 100%.

How far down have we dropped?

From February 1, 2005 right up until February 3, 2006, it has been a downward spiral, with this past October, November and December being bad, and January being particularly horrific. Hundreds of you have written to me asking for an explanation, and asking when you can expect things to get better. I have stayed at the office late most nights so I can read your letters. I apologize to each and every one of you.

You have asked fair questions, and you deserve answers.

While I do not have a ‘crystal ball’ to predict the future, I can tell you what we have done, what we are doing, and I will try to give you a timeline for recovery. First, the ongoing track improvement program (replacement of deteriorated wood ties by Union Pacific crews) between Oakland and San Jose should be completed February 14. I guess we can call that “a St. Valentine’s Day present”. While we expected SOME disruption and delay, and we did put out an advance notice telling everyone about it, virtually every train that travels south of Oakland has been delayed, and not just by minutes, but sometimes by hours. Even trains that should NOT have been impacted at all by the trackwork, those that start or end their run in Oakland, have been badly delayed as well.
Union Pacific Railroad (UPRR) owns the entire 170 miles over which we operate, with the exception of about 2 miles. UPRR dispatchers control Capitol Corridor trains. While Union Pacific’s freight business has grown substantially in the last two years, this growth has had a negative impact on the reliability of your passenger service. UPRR’s handling of Capitol Corridor trains is not simply a matter of ‘convenience’ or ‘preferential priority’ for passenger trains. Union Pacific has a contract to operate our passenger trains at 90% on-time or better. UPRR also has the opportunity to earn an incentive payment when Capitol Corridor trains achieve an on-time monthly average of 92% or better. Disappointingly, no incentive money has been earned by UPRR since January 2005. This is the one check we WANT to write.
When the State of California made its initial $57 million investment into the then- Southern Pacific (SP, now UPRR) tracks between Oakland and Sacramento, on-time contractual provisions were included. Since then, the state through the CCJPA, has invested about another $60 million in capacity and reliability improvements to UPRR property along the Oakland-San Jose and across Yolo Causeway. These capital investments were made with the concurrence and support of UPRR, and each publicly funded project included a provision to accommodate additional growth of UPRR’s freight business. The public now owns the right to operate 22 trains in each direction between Oakland and Sacramento. Only 16 of those slots are currently being utilized, and with the proposed Capitol Corridor train service increases in late August, 20 of the 22 publicly owned slots will be utilized.
UPRR has an obligation to the people of this state, who have paid for the improvements to UPRR’s property and facilities, to operate these passenger trains at least 90% on-time, as per their contract, and on the schedule to which UPRR previously agreed.
Two years ago, almost to the day, UPRR crews completed building a second track across Yolo Causeway, eliminating the last major single track congestion point between Oakland and Sacramento. Everyone benefited from this investment. The following April, we reduced travel time by 10 minutes between Oakland and Sacramento, thereby getting Capitol Corridor passenger trains out of the way of freight trains 240 more minutes per day than in the previous schedule. The CCJPA’s top priority for funding is now the installation of a universal crossover at the west end of the Yolo Causeway, a project that was planned but not initially constructed due to limited state capital dollars available when the second track across the Causeway was being built.
What happened to UPRR’s Capitol Corridor performance following the April 2004 schedule change? The service never ran so well. UPRR delivered our trains on time for eight consecutive months at 90% or better, to you, our customers. UPRR’s dispatching performance was between 96% and 98% on time. However, since February 2005, that top quality service performance has continually eroded, and is still in decline. During this entire time period, there was no change to the number of scheduled Capitol Corridor trains. Our train frequency is the same as it was in April 2003. January 2006 brought new havoc: rain, mudslides between Martinez and Pinole, and a BNSF track ‘blitz’ in the Central Valley that caused BNSF freights to be added to UPRR freights out of Oakland.

What have we done to try to improve the situation?

We have continued regular meetings with UPRR through the Corridor Improvement Team, but these meetings have not yet accomplished their intended goal of better reliability. The Chair of the Capitol Corridor Board, Roger Dickinson of Sacramento (and a Sacramento County Supervisor), went to Omaha and raised the issue of poor on time performance face-to-face with Mr. Dennis Duffy, Executive Vice President of Operation of UPRR. Mr. Dickinson conveyed his concern and displeasure with the UPRR’s performance of our trains, based on his own experiences in using Capitol Corridor trains. Mr. Duffy explained the complex problems UPRR is facing in the growth of its freight business, but he did state that UPRR will make a concerted effort to deliver Capitol Corridor trains more reliably, and that this objective would be more likely to be achieved once the current track renewal work south of Oakland is completed. As I said earlier, this track work is slated to be complete by February 14.
Additionally, the crescendo of complaints has now reached officials far above my office. Many of these officials deal with issues involving freight service across the state and across the nation. Many participants in formulating state policy now actually ride the Capitol Corridor trains to/from Sacramento, and their personal experiences are coloring the public perception of UPRR among major California public funding agencies, agencies whose jurisdiction includes consideration of major capital funding programs that will also benefit freight railroads and goods movement. We have worked hard to establish a real partnership with Union Pacific, and we remain hopeful that Union Pacific will be able to deliver on its share of that partnership, as it was delivering a year ago.

So what’s next?

Following February 14, we expect to make an announcement that regular riders, who have endured day-after-day of less-than-expected reliability, will be offered a substantial discount on monthly and 10-trip tickets for an upcoming month-most likely April. We recognize that it will do us no good to reduce the price of a ticket if the service doesn’t get any better. We will monitor closely UPRR performance for a few weeks after February 14 before we say to you “come on down” and buy a ticket. The last thing we want is to have lots more folks coming back to our trains with bargain-priced tickets and then getting continued unreliable service. When you pay to ride our trains, you should get what you are entitled to: a train that runs on its published schedule, at least 90% of the time–maybe more, but certainly not less.
We will continue to work for you until you have the level of on-time service you deserve, and it is sustained. You have my personal commitment to this goal.
Again, this has been a very difficult Message for me to write, both because the news is not as good as it could be and because this situation has strained our good working relationship with Union Pacific. I would not normally talk about this in public. However, the current circumstances are not normal, and the conditions of Capitol Corridor train unreliability have become painfully public by themselves.
I do believe we will get through this difficult time by March or April, and that your service will once again be restored to the level of reliability you deserve.

Issue 23, Dec. 8, 2005

December 8, 2005

Message from the Director

From me to you…

Well, here it is St. Nicholas Day again (December 6), and, as has been my tradition for over 35 years, my holiday “Message” gets written. The Holiday Season is a special time for me and all of us at the Capitol Corridor office to say “thank you” to you, our loyal customers and riders of the Capitol Corridor trains. May this festive season bring peace and hope to you, your families and friends, and may the coming year bring you all health, happiness and prosperity.
The Capitol Corridor trains are truly your trains–built, bought and operated with your passenger fares and state tax dollars. The Capitol Corridor office staff exists solely to serve you and provide you with the highest quality passenger rail service we can deliver. We know that it is not yet a perfect service, but we, along with our partners at Amtrak and Union Pacific Railroad, are striving to make it the best passenger service we can provide.
It has been another eventful year, with some real highs, and a few “not-so-highs.” On the “not-so-high” side, our on-time performance has suffered, and reliability has not been where it should, can and must be, since January 2005. I can provide a list of reasons, none of which matter when you count on the train being on-time. Every effort is being made by the Capitol Corridor office, Amtrak and Union Pacific Railroad to restore the high level of on-time performance enjoyed prior to February 2005. The construction work between Oakland and San Jose (more tracks) and the maintenance work all along the line (tie replacements, new crossover switches, a dedicated UPRR track maintenance gang) will contribute substantially to our ability to deliver better on-time service when completed late next summer.
Virtually every other performance statistic indicates continuous growth and demand for our train service. Ridership increased 8% above the prior year, to a new record-high of more than 1,260,000 passengers, cementing the Capitol Corridor as the third busiest route in Amtrak’s national system. More impressive, our revenue increased 16%, with big gains in off-peak and weekend travel, the places where we have had the greatest available capacity. On weekday mornings and evenings, it is no secret that some trains are close to full, which is compounded by some passengers still occupying more than one seat, thereby denying other passengers the opportunity to sit down until a conductor has to request removal of a body, parcels or feet from otherwise unoccupied seats.
This revenue growth also results in a cost-recovery-from-fares ratio of 43% (up from 38% last year), the highest in the history of Capitol Corridor service since 1998, and well on the way to achieving the state’s goal of a 50% recovery.
All of this growth has happened with no change in the number of trains operated, for more than two-and-a-half years now. This is what the industry calls “pure growth”.
Our successful ridership growth is putting pressure on the train equipment and track infrastructure – driving the need for capital investment for more locomotives and passenger coaches and railroad projects (double and triple track, added crossovers, new track alignments and bridges and/or structures).
Elimination of vehicular highway crossings is also high on our list for safety and security of the right-of-way, as is the provision of more modern technology for security upgrades at stations and on the trains, selling and collecting tickets, and establishing real-time passenger manifests (who is on-board) for every train. You will see increased emphasis on modernizing these functions in the coming years. You may also see some new on-board customer amenities involving electronic technology, as well as continuation of our efforts to provide wireless internet service on all our trains.
Probably the most visible changes, and the most attractive to riders, will be the expansion of Capitol Corridor train service next fall. There will be more trains to/from San Jose. At least 7 trains will operate each way daily, and there will also be a significant increase in service between Oakland and Sacramento, with as many as 16 trains each way on weekdays, and 12 on weekends. These new trains should spread the current ridership demand to the new trains, relieving some of the crowding pressure off of our most heavily traveled trains. Overall, this service expansion is the equivalent of a 25% increase in our scheduled seated capacity to try to better accommodate your needs and the needs of the new riders who seem to “discover” our trains every day.
The Capitol Corridor service exists for you, our riders. You are the reason we exist, and we are committed to making the Capitol Corridor the best public service offered by a transportation entity, anywhere. As I’ve said before, we are not where we want to be by a long shot, but we are in way better shape today than we were 7 years ago, and we are well on our way towards accomplishing the goals set for the Capitol Corridor by our Board some 4 years ago.
Happy Holidays!

Issue 22, Nov. 1, 2005

November 1, 2005

Message from the Director

From me to you…

Dear Capitol Corridor Riders and Friends,
It’s been quite a busy few months since my last message to you. There’s a lot happening with Capitol Corridor that I’m excited to tell you about.

Oakland Coliseum Station

The new station opened as scheduled on June 6, and it has been doing a growing business, especially now that Raiders and A’s fans have discovered how well the train works for catching weekend day games at the Coliseum.

Oakland-San Jose Construction Progress

Union Pacific track and signal forces have been building more capacity between Oakland and San Jose in anticipation of increased Capitol Corridor service to/from San Jose next year. Two of the three construction segments have been completed and are now in service. Unfortunately, the recent hurricanes in the south, and the unprecedented growth in the rail freight business have made the market for railroad parts (ballast, rail, ties, and signal components) much more competitive – resulting in later delivery times for some of our materials. Consequently, the start date for the expanded service to San Jose has changed from spring 2006 to late summer 2006. Caltrain is procuring and installing the signal materials for the junction in Santa Clara at “CP Coast” where the Capitol Corridor and ACE trains join the Caltrain Line into San Jose. Delivery time for those materials should allow for completion of the signal installation also in late summer.

Oakland-San Jose Track Improvement Program

To provide you with overall improved service, we have been trying to get the EXISTING tracks upgraded between now and the time the new service goes into effect. I am pleased to report that this effort has been successful. Union Pacific, ACE and Capitol Corridor are sharing in the cost of this track improvement program between Oakland and San Jose, with Union Pacific contributing the largest share of the cost. The first section (a wood tie installation/replacement program) started in mid-October and will be finished in mid-November. This has caused both Capitol Corridor and ACE trains to institute buses on certain days between Oakland or Fremont and San Jose. This has also caused delays to some trains operating between Oakland and Sacramento. We apologize for those delays, but we also want you to know that the “gain” after the “pain” will be more reliable service for all riders and a better ride quality, in addition to more frequent service.
By February or March of next year you will also see something relatively new along the Capitol Corridor: concrete ties. Union Pacific is upgrading its track construction standards by using more concrete ties throughout its system. Concrete ties are more stable and retain their alignment and placement for a longer time than wood ties. One of the first places you will see these ties is through station platform areas. The new second main track across Yolo Causeway (the track on the north side of the Causeway) was Union Pacific’s first concrete tie installation on the Capitol Corridor route.
You may also have noticed that your ride is a bit smoother when traveling over switches along the Capitol Corridor. Once again, Union Pacific is installing a new component for these switches (called “a spring frog”). These devices dramatically reduce wear on the rail crossing points and reduce the “banging” on the wheels as the train moves more smoothly over the switch. As an added bonus, the spring frogs are more likely to keep the track within acceptable federal tolerances so trains are less likely to encounter “slow orders” due to damaged or worn “frogs”. Spring frogs almost eliminate the need for welding at these crossing points, and more importantly, the need to reduce train speeds to 10 mph while repairs are being made. You don’t see much of this from the train, and you may not even notice the new crossing points, but they have a lot to do with our efforts to keep your trains on time and provide you with a comfortable ride.

On-Time Performance

We know that on-time performance has slipped in the past month or so, in large part due to the trackwork along the Capitol Corridor route. Union Pacific replaced the rail on some curves along the route during September. The track improvement program will likely impact service until mid-November, and then again early in 2006 for a few weeks. When the construction dates are firm, we will post trackwork dates and information at stations, on board trains, as well as on our website and e-newsletter (CC Rail Mail).

Performance Statistics

How did we do for the Fiscal Year that just ended September 30, 2005? Pretty darn well. In fact, we can say with confidence that “it was our best year yet”. Are we where we want to be or need to be? Not by a long shot, but every effort is being made to bring you the service you deserve. All our plans and our efforts are designed to accomplish this goal. Here are the FY2005 results compared to FY2004:

  2004 2005 Change
Riders 1,100,000 1,253,000 +8%
Revenue $13,5000,00 $15,200,000 +16%
Cost-recovery from Fares 38% 43% +13%
On-Time Performance 85% 85% n/c

New Call Center and Phone Number

Effective October 1, 2005, CCJPA initiated our next phase of improved customer service by opening a locally based call center. The new phone number is 1-877-9RIDECC (1-877-974-3322). What this means for our passengers is improved customer care with local representatives who are familiar with the Capitol Corridor service, route and connecting transit options. Localizing the call center also results in a cost savings that ultimately translates into more amenities and improved service for you.

Fare Changes

Even with the dramatic rise of fuel prices, we are not planning a Capitol Corridor fare change until spring of next year. We have been able to allocate other savings in our budget to cover fuel increases without having to come back to you with another fare increase. Our state funding is again flat (for the 5th consecutive year). However, with our regular, relatively small fare increases, we can continue to deliver a quality service to you and expand that service modestly, to give you more value for your money. Our fares, especially the discounted multi-ride fares, are now much more than competitive with costs for auto travel, and we want to keep them that way. Every dollar of increased revenue is reinvested into your service.

Federal Funding/ Amtrak

Congress is listening. The U.S. Senate adopted an Amtrak appropriation of $1.45 billion; while the House number is $1.2 billion. The final number will be agreed to in their “Conference Committee,” and is likely to be somewhere between the two. This is good news for Amtrak and good news for the Capitol Corridor. You may want to let your Congressional representative know how important train service is to you during the Congressional recess.
We are also hopeful that Senate Bill 1516 (a bi-partisan comprehensive bill to improve our nation’s passenger rail service) will be enacted this Congressional session. It contains a provision for establishment, for the first time ever, a federal share for states to invest in intercity passenger rail. As most of you know, California is the leader in passenger rail development and expansion, virtually all with state, voter-approved, tax dollars. The trains you are riding are owned by the State of California, and California is well positioned with existing matching funds to take immediate advantage of any new federal capital funding program.
California’s Position on Intercity Passenger Rail: Both of California’s legislative houses (Assembly and Senate) have adopted a joint resolution in support of Amtrak funding and the federal capital investment capital program. This places the highest elected legislative body of the most populated state in the nation (California) clearly on record with Congress as being in support of the major components of Senate Bill 1516. If you have the opportunity, say “thank you” to your state legislators for passing AJR-18 on August 30, 2005. AJR-18 was authored jointly by Assembly Members David Jones (D-Sacramento) and Tim Leslie (R-Tahoe City) and in the Senate by Senators Abel Maldonado (R-Santa Maria), Denise Ducheny (D-San Diego) and Christine Kehoe (D-San Diego).