Dear Riders –We are well into 2010 and there is much to share with you! Youâ€™ll be pleased to know that Union Pacific Railroadâ€™s (UPRR) multi-year track infrastructure project, which affected Capitol Corridor service in January, February and March should be completed by the time you read this message. Although this work is necessary to keep the railroad in good condition, the service plan didnâ€™t go as smoothly as we had hoped.
I sincerely apologize to any Capitol Corridor rider who may have experienced connection delays as a result of the latest bus bridge we operated between the Martinez and Jack London Square stations. Please be assured that we are doing a â€œLessons Learnedâ€ on this bus bridge and should we ever need to implement another extended bus bridge (hopefully not for a couple of years) it will operate much smoother.
The good news is, once this project is complete, UPRR will be done with major track work for this year! The better news is overall, in January and February the Capitol Corridor achieved a 93% on-time performance record. Year-to-date we have an on-time performance measure of 92%, which makes Capitol Corridor the most reliable multi-frequency Amtrak service in the nation.
Capitol Corridor Scores Stimulus Funds
For the first time in our history, the Capitol Corridor Joint Powers Authority (CCJPA) will receive $29.2 million in federal funding for three projects in Northern California to improve Capitol Corridor service. In January, Congresswoman Doris Matsui (D-Sacramento) joined us to announce that federal High Speed/Intercity Passenger Rail (HSIPR) stimulus funds were allocated to projects along our corridor. These HSIPR funds were awarded through a competitive grant program administered by the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) within the U.S. Department of Transportation.
$6.2 million was awarded to the Sacramento Rail Relocation Project which will fill a funding gap and allow for the installation of a new passenger platform as part of the City of Sacramentoâ€™s
intermodal station development program. The remaining $23 million will be allocated to easing bottleneck conditions between Sacramento and Davisâ€”known as the Yolo Crossoverâ€”and to
expand the San Jose station platforms and tracks. Upgrading station boarding platforms will help address passenger capacity issues and promote intermodal transit use, and the Yolo Crossover will help improve Capitol Corridor train reliability by improving meets with freight and other passenger trains.
Not only will this $29 million federal grant improve Capitol Corridor service, it positions our San Jose and Sacramento stations to become major connections with the planned high-speed rail trains that will serve these stations.
State Lawmakers Approve Budget Plan that Supports Public Transit
The Governorâ€™s proposed FY 2010-11 State Budget would abolish Californiaâ€™s sales tax on gas. Getting rid of state gas taxes would eliminate the Public Transportation Account (PTA), the sole source of operating and capital funds for the Capitol Corridor and the other two intercity passenger rail (IPR) services (San Joaquin and Pacific Surfliner). While there would be enough PTA funds to finance the stateâ€™s successful IPR services for two years, in FY 2012-13 these train services would compete for funding in the Stateâ€™s underfunded General Fund. If the Governorâ€™s proposed budget passes, Californiaâ€™s IPR operators will have nowhere to turn as IPR trains are supported only by state transit fundsâ€”no local, regional or federal funds support our day-to-day operations or capital programs. With this potential funding shortfall, there would be massive service cuts/reductions to Capitol Corridor, as well as lost opportunities to seek federal grants to help us expand our service.
Fortunately, the state Assembly has come to our rescue! In response to the proposed Governorâ€™s budget plan above, transit-supportive Assemblymembers developed and enacted legislative bills that support the CA IPR Program and provide the Capitol Corridor the opportunity to apply for federal capital grants, similar to the ARRA High Speed Intercity Passenger Rail (HSIPR) capital program grants awarded to us in January. At the time this message went to print, these transit-supportive budget solutions were passed by the Assembly and Senate and are on the Governorâ€™s desk for review and hopefully signature.
Fare Increase Effective March 30, 2010
Now that Iâ€™ve shared good news, historical news and legislative news–I must segue to the less-than-good news. The poor economy and the â€œFurlough Fridaysâ€ that are imposed on state government workers continue to contribute to an overall ridership reduction of 9%, with the furloughs contributing to over 5% of our total ridership decline. To maintain our current service level, effective March 30, 2010, all ticket prices will go up 2% for city pairs between Sacramento and San Jose. This modest fare increase helps us meet our revenue and farebox operating ratio projections for this fiscal year. The Capitol Corridor train service depends on two sources of operating revenue: passenger fares and annually allocated state funds. Given the stateâ€™s dire financial situation, it is becoming clear that a slight fare increase is required to meet this yearâ€™s revenue projections and maintain our current service levels.
Please know that we tried to lessen the blow to your wallets as much as we could. We cancelled the November 2009 fare increase and postponed and lowered this adjustmentâ€”it was initially planned to be a 3% increase effective February 2010.
We truly appreciate your continued loyalty and thank you for continued patronage during the weeks of track work. We consider Capitol Corridor to be your service and we strive to provide the best service that we can.
David B. Kutrosky
CCJPA Managing Director