Last month, the Capitol Corridor Joint Powers Authority (CCJPA) Board of Directors bid farewell to retiring Managing Director Eugene (Gene) Skoropowski, and I was appointed as his replacement. As an introduction, I worked with Gene for 10 years, the last four as his deputy. Gene was a great mentor, friend and colleague and it was a pleasure to work closely with someone who is considered a leader in the passenger rail industry. Gene successfully guided the CCJPA team for the last 10 years, and I am looking forward to continue our success into the future.
As your new Managing Director, I am honored to be at the helm of the management team and excited to sustain and build upon the upward performance trends the Capitol Corridor rail service has achieved. I have been with the CCJPA since its inception in December 1996 and was one of the first employees on the team who began managing the Capitol Corridor service in October 1998. Since that time, the CCJPA has steadily built ridership and a solid track record of financial and operational success for the Capitol Corridor. Our annual ridership has more than tripled and service levels quadrupled â€“ from 8 daily train trips between Sacramento and San Jose to the current schedule of 32 daily trips.
To our regular riders, I want you to know how muchI and the CCJPA team and Board of Directors value your support and your feedback. Our success was made possible because we made a commitment to offer you superior customer service and followed an intercity passenger rail plan that focuses on operational efficiency, safety and security, collaborative planning and partnerships. Itâ€™s my goal to continue this vision and improve our service delivery, reliability and customer satisfaction.
Thank you for being loyal partners, not only in our success but also in our efforts to provide a service that protects the environmentâ€”taking cars off the road, and reducing gasoline usage, carbon dioxide emissions and other automobile-related pollutants.
As the year comes to a close and a new one approaches, itâ€™s a fitting time to reflect on what weâ€™ve accomplished. The challenging economic climate affected all sectors of the travel and transportation industry, including intercity passenger rail. Although our performance in 2009 was not as strong as 2008 â€”when high gas prices and a stronger economy drove record ridershipâ€”we continued the positive growth trend from 2007 and years past, and reinforced our record of prudently managing public funds to deliver a high-quality passenger rail service. One major accomplishment was our impressive improvement in on-time performance. This commitment from Union Pacific Railroad allowed the Capitol Corridor to achieve an all-time high of 93%, making the Capitol Corridor the most reliable multi-frequency train service in the Amtrak national system. Also, customer satisfaction scores continued to improve with the continued hard work and dedication from our operating partner, Amtrak, in delivering Capitol Corridor passengers the best passenger rail experience in the nation.
In our surveys, you, the riders, let us know that protecting the environment was one of the top reasons they choose to ride the Capitol Corridor. In November, we joined several clean-air partners to unveil the cleanest passenger locomotive in the nation. Updating the fleet to cleaner technology is another way to maximize the environmental benefits of rail travel and to help maintain healthful air in the communities along our corridor.
This year, we partnered with Caltrans Rail (the owner of rail cars and locomotives) to make customer-related improvements to our fleet. In addition to adding new bike racks to our cab cars, train car interiors were refreshed with new upholstery, carpets and curtains to make your ride more comfortable.
Plans for 2010
In 2010, we will continue to seek funding to enhance our service to implement safety, communications and reliability-improvement projects. In addition, we hope to define a plan with Union Pacific Railroad and secure future capital funding sufficient to meet the CCJPAâ€™s goal for expanded train service to San Jose and Roseville/Auburn.
In order to continue our stellar on-time performance record, Union Pacific maintenance crews will again be performing an extensive two-part tie-renewal project between January and March. Phase one will take place from mid-January to mid-February where UPRR work crews will be working between Roseville and west Davis. For this period, some late-morning and mid-day trains will be bus bridged between Sacramento and Suisun. No changes are planned for the busier early morning and late afternoon/evening trains. The CCJPA is working with Amtrak and Union Pacific to develop a schedule that will have the least impact on these busy trains and hope to release that schedule by the end of December.
Phase two of the tie-renewal project will take place between Richmond and Oakland Jack London stations from approximately the end of February to mid-March. Once again, we are still working to find a schedule that will allow our busiest trains to travel through the work area. As this portion of route is the most heavily utilized with numerous users (UPRR freight, San Joaquin trains, Amtrak long distance trains), we may have to extensively modify our schedule to accommodate the work crews.
Please remember that these intensive maintenance projects are to keep the tracks we operate on safe and in a good state of repair, thereby ensuring a continuing high quality, reliable ride on the Capitol Corridor trains.
Watch for updates as we solidify dates for phase two of this project. We know you are anxious to plan your schedule and as soon as we come to an agreement on the schedule with our operating partners, we will release it to you.
Throughout the past 10 years we have continuously improved our service, and Iâ€™m eager to continue CCJPAâ€™s upward trend for the next10 years. Weâ€™ve attained a solid performance record that makes us a viable transportation option for those who travel between Placer County and Silicon Valley. As always, we are committed to improving the quality of life for our passengers and the communities we serve by providing safe, frequent, reliable, affordable intercity train service–and a â€œgreenerâ€ way to travel. On behalf of the CCJPA and our member agencies and partners, I thank you for your ongoing loyalty to the Capitol Corridor. We are honored to serve you. May you have a safe and joyful holiday season, as well as a happy, healthy, and prosperous 2010!
David B. Kutrosky
CCJPA Managing Director