Thursday, December 11, 2014

Winning bid for next construction segment of CAHSR is literally a joke

High-Speed Rail Authority Announces Bid Results on Next Segment of Construction in the Central Valley

SACRAMENTO, Calif. – The California High-Speed Rail Authority (Authority) has identified Dragados/Flatiron/Shimmick as the apparent best value team for the design-build contract for Construction Package 2-3 (CP 2-3), the next 65 mile segment from Fresno to North of Bakersfield.
The Authority has estimated the cost of CP 2-3 to be between $1.5 billion to $2 billion. The Authority determined that Dragados/Flatiron/Shimmick, who bid $1.2 billion, was the “apparent best value.” The ranking and scores for all three proposals are attached.
CP 2-3 represents the continuation of construction of the high-speed rail program to the south. CP 2-3 will extend in excess of 65 miles from the terminus of Construction Package 1 at East American Avenue in Fresno to one mile north of the Kern-Tulare County line. CP 2-3 includes approximately 36 grade separations in the counties of Fresno, Tulare and Kings, including viaducts, underpasses and overpasses.

However, the exact bid amount? $1,234,567,890. I'm just curious as to whether this was an intentional joke on their part or an internal joke during the draft that they didn't spot before sending out the bid.

There's no point to 100% fare enforcement on Metrolink

Metrolink is touting their reception of an utterly ridiculous $1.7 million grant for 100% fare enforcement on the Antelope Valley Line.

LOS ANGELES – Los Angeles County Mayor Michael Antonovich Thursday introduced a motion at the Metro Board of Directors Meeting to allocate an additional $1.7 million for the purpose of ensuring 100 percent fare enforcement on all Metrolink Antelope Valley Line trains through June 30, 2015. This funding allows continuation and augmentation of a pilot program being implemented by Metrolink which began on October 31, 2014. The Metro Board approved the motion unanimously.
...
In October, Metrolink launched a full fare enforcement pilot program on the Antelope Valley Line to curb fare evasion on the system, adding assistant conductors to trains to help check for tickets. Metrolink also instituted a policy at Los Angeles Union Station to prevent people without a ticket from boarding the train, and provided aggressive fare inspections at the Glendale and Burbank stations to prevent passengers from making “short-buys”, where a passenger buys a ticket for a shorter (and less costly) trip than they intend to make.
The effort has also involved multiple conductor announcements, prominent signage at all stations and periodic security sweeps by Los Angeles County sheriff’s deputies at intermediate stops along the line.
The initial program was scheduled to conclude in December, but with the support of Mayor Antonovich and the Metro Board, the program will continue through June 2015.
Metrolink staff will return to the Metro Board by the June 2015 Board meeting to provide an evaluation of the program and its effectiveness in improving the quality and security of Metrolink’s Antelope Valley Line service. Metrolink’s goal is to secure funding and resources to have 100 percent fare enforcement on all its lines spanning more than 500 miles of track in Los Angeles, Orange, Riverside, San Bernardino, Ventura, and San Diego counties.

Now the Antelope Valley Line, running up into Lancaster and Palmdale, has the worst passenger reputation of any of Metrolink's lines. Logically, this line would have the highest rate of fare evasion. So how many people did the 100% fare enforcement program actually catch? Well, according to Metrolink (page 64), a total of 230 citations were issued and 507 people turned away for lack of a ticket during the period of November 1 to November 20. It sounds mildly impressive until you realize that this was for a total of 328 trains with a resulting average of 2 fare evaders caught per train. Or, put another way, it's 37 fare evaders per day, less than 1% of the total passenger load on that line. At an average yield of $6.46 per passenger (page 45), there would have to be over 260,000 fare evaders, nearly 1,500 every day,  for this program to make sense.

In short, Los Angeles County and Metrolink are spending nearly two million dollars on a completely pointless feel good program that targets an evidently non-existant problem rather than doing something useful, like putting that money towards the estimated $24 million cost of replacing Metrolink's long outdated and constantly failing ticket vending machines or towards the cost of an online and mobile ticketing system.

Friday, November 14, 2014

Anaheim passengers will be able to drink their Metrolink sorrows away

Nano-brewery and "speakeasy" to open at new Anaheim train station

The depot, scheduled to open Dec. 13 (that’s 12-13-14, for you Lotto folks), will house under its three-story dome a handful of original concepts by intrepid Orange County food entrepreneurs.
Among them is Roland Foss, a former Taco Bell marketing guy who owns Mission Market. His grab-and-go convenience store, which has a location in Fullerton, plans to accept bitcoin. It likely will be the only food tenant open when ARTIC debuts next month.
Others aren’t expected to come aboard until early next year, including organic coffeehouse The Lost Bean, whose flagship cafe is in Tustin. Owner Bodie Rasmussen, who has been reluctant to expand “just anywhere” over the years, said he jumped at the chance to open at ARTIC because he’s a supporter of public transportation, having lived in Europe.
Like others, he also sees the potential: ARTIC is expected to serve about 10,000 commuters a day.
Leonard Chan, who has several restaurants in various developing stages across O.C. and Los Angeles, is opening three eateries and a barbershop at ARTIC. His most notable venues are Iron Press in Costa Mesa and the Anaheim Packing House. At ARTIC, he plans to open R.A.D. – a nano-brewery serving comfort food; Hive Bar, an “approachable” speakeasy focusing on hand-crafted cocktails and rare beers; and SILO, a healthy food and poke bowl concept.
Linh Nguyen, owner of Ritter’s in Santa Ana and Huntington Beach, is bringing his steam kettle cooking concept to ARTIC’s second level, as well as The Oyster Bar.

While it's a bit gratifying to see that there is apparently a good level of demand for the restaurant space in ARTIC (which actually opens December 6th, with the grand opening ceremony on the 13th), there's a real question as to how sustainable it will be since the 10,000 daily commuters estimate is rather overblown and dependent on buses that do not actually exist. Unless they're able to attract a lot of patronage from the surrounding development or from those visiting other nearby attractions, Anaheim's new train station will probably be quite empty by the time 2016 comes around.

That's not to say that it couldn't happen mind you. It could very well be the case that, by word of mouth, Yelp, and other means, the restaurants will attract patrons from Angel's Stadium, the Honda Center, and the City Grove. It could even be that they will choose to take the train for convenience with future trips because of the restaurant and brewery amenities as a pre or post-event meal. I am, however, quite doubtful that that will be the case. Housing, office space, or even a hotel (especially given Disneyland and the Convention Center and the planned streetcar connection) are far more likely to draw in additional commuters and to remain a paying proposition for the station.

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Amtrak routes by 2014 cost recovery

In what is now an annual tradition of sorts, here are Amtrak's routes ranked according to their cost recovery and color coded for for discernment between the Northeast Corridor (blue), state supported corridors (green), and the long distance trains (orange). To eliminate the effects of state subsidies (which pushed the Vermonter and Carolinian into profitable territory this year), the state supported corridors use only ticket revenue while the Northeast Corridor and long distance trains use total revenues. This does mean that up to several million dollars in private varnish and food and beverage revenue is lost while their costs remain; keep in mind therefore that the state trains may actually be performing better by a few percentage points.


Revenue 2014
Expenses 2014
Cost recovery 2014
Profit/loss
Acela
$603,800,000
$295,800,000
204.12%
$308,000,000
Washington-Lynchburg
$12,604,973
$8,300,000
151.87%
$4,304,973
Northeast Regional
$625,600,000
$448,900,000
139.36%
$176,700,000
Washington-Newport News
$22,057,190
$18,700,000
117.95%
$3,357,190
Washington-Norfolk
$7,748,910
$7,900,000
98.09%
($151,090)
Auto Train
$80,900,000
$85,200,000
94.95%
($4,300,000)
Carolinian
$19,136,311
$20,700,000
92.45%
($1,563,689)
Maple Leaf
$24,712,104
$29,700,000
83.21%
($4,987,896)
Empire Service
$47,472,663
$57,600,000
82.42%
($10,127,337)
Washington-Richmond
$9,594,953
$12,200,000
78.65%
($2,605,047)
Keystone Service
$37,804,213
$52,300,000
72.28%
($14,495,787)
Hiawathas
$16,794,044
$24,500,000
68.55%
($7,705,956)
Pennsylvanian
$11,447,786
$16,800,000
68.14%
($5,352,214)
Palmetto
$18,300,000
$28,800,000
63.54%
($10,500,000)
Silver Meteor
$44,300,000
$74,400,000
59.54%
($30,100,000)
Adirondack
$7,538,465
$12,700,000
59.36%
($5,161,535)
Vermonter
$5,531,708
$10,000,000
55.32%
($4,468,292)
Downeaster
$8,638,103
$15,700,000
55.02%
($7,061,897)
Empire Builder
$60,500,000
$113,800,000
53.16%
($53,300,000)
Pacific Surfliner
$65,514,742
$124,300,000
52.71%
($58,785,258)
Lake Shore Limited
$34,500,000
$66,500,000
51.88%
($32,000,000)
Ethan Allen Express
$2,898,957
$5,600,000
51.77%
($2,701,043)
Silver Star
$41,200,000
$81,500,000
50.55%
($40,300,000)
Wolverines
$18,900,614
$38,200,000
49.48%
($19,299,386)
New Haven-Springfield
$12,238,623
$25,400,000
48.18%
($13,161,377)
California Zephyr
$55,800,000
$118,300,000
47.17%
($62,500,000)
Coast Starlight
$47,700,000
$101,300,000
47.09%
($53,600,000)
Capitol Limited
$23,000,000
$48,900,000
47.03%
($25,900,000)
Blue Water
$6,487,869
$13,800,000
47.01%
($7,312,131)
City of New Orleans
$22,300,000
$47,500,000
46.95%
($25,200,000)
Illini
$9,272,724
$19,800,000
46.83%
($10,527,276)
Texas Eagle
$27,400,000
$59,200,000
46.28%
($31,800,000)
Chicago-St. Louis
$16,792,321
$37,100,000
45.26%
($20,307,679)
Southwest Chief
$49,400,000
$111,000,000
44.50%
($61,600,000)
San Joaquins
$38,087,608
$86,300,000
44.13%
($48,212,392)
Crescent
$35,900,000
$82,100,000
43.73%
($46,200,000)
Pere Marquette
$3,101,530
$7,400,000
41.91%
($4,298,470)
Cascades
$28,440,469
$68,000,000
41.82%
($39,559,531)
Piedmont
$3,402,929
$8,200,000
41.50%
($4,797,071)
Capitol Corridor
$27,105,046
$70,000,000
38.72%
($42,894,954)
Cardinal
$8,700,000
$24,100,000
36.10%
($15,400,000)
Illinois Zephyr
$5,521,055
$16,300,000
33.87%
($10,778,945)
Kansas City-St. Louis
$5,341,229
$15,800,000
33.81%
($10,458,771)
Sunset Limited
$14,200,000
$51,200,000
27.73%
($37,000,000)
Heartland Flyer
$1,965,642
$9,200,000
21.37%
($7,234,358)
Hoosier State
$802,581
$6,000,000
13.38%
($5,197,419)

For an alternate view, here is each route ranked according to profit or loss.


Profit/loss
Acela
$308,000,000
Northeast Regional
$176,700,000
Washington-Lynchburg
$4,304,973
Washington-Newport News
$3,357,190
Washington-Norfolk
($151,090)
Carolinian
($1,563,689)
Washington-Richmond
($2,605,047)
Ethan Allen Express
($2,701,043)
Pere Marquette
($4,298,470)
Auto Train
($4,300,000)
Vermonter
($4,468,292)
Piedmont
($4,797,071)
Maple Leaf
($4,987,896)
Adirondack
($5,161,535)
Hoosier State
($5,197,419)
Pennsylvanian
($5,352,214)
Downeaster
($7,061,897)
Heartland Flyer
($7,234,358)
Blue Water
($7,312,131)
Hiawathas
($7,705,956)
Empire Service
($10,127,337)
Kansas City-St. Louis
($10,458,771)
Palmetto
($10,500,000)
Illini
($10,527,276)
Illinois Zephyr
($10,778,945)
New Haven-Springfield
($13,161,377)
Keystone Service
($14,495,787)
Cardinal
($15,400,000)
Wolverines
($19,299,386)
Chicago-St. Louis
($20,307,679)
City of New Orleans
($25,200,000)
Capitol Limited
($25,900,000)
Silver Meteor
($30,100,000)
Texas Eagle
($31,800,000)
Lake Shore Limited
($32,000,000)
Sunset Limited
($37,000,000)
Cascades
($39,559,531)
Silver Star
($40,300,000)
Capitol Corridor
($42,894,954)
Crescent
($46,200,000)
San Joaquins
($48,212,392)
Empire Builder
($53,300,000)
Coast Starlight
($53,600,000)
Pacific Surfliner
($58,785,258)
Southwest Chief
($61,600,000)
California Zephyr
($62,500,000)

Most routes performed a bit better this year than they did the year previously thanks to Amtrak's cost cutting measures; this was particularly evident on the long distance routes which collectively cut $111.5 million from their costs and OPEBs. The Auto Train is the standout performer, somehow cutting $25.9 million in costs which, in addition to $5.5 million in additional revenue, allowed to to come only $4.3 million away from breakeven.

I've trimmed some figures relating to year over year changes in the interest of presentation, but they remain available in the Excel file (converted from Numbers). As always, the figures come from Amtrak's September Monthly Performance Report.