Issue 26, July 7, 2006

Linsey Ettlin Message To Riders

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.