Thursday, August 23, 2012

Amtrak California revenue and ridership for July

The agenda for the August 30th LOSSAN meeting is now available and with it the revenue and ridership trends for July. There is also an agenda for joint meeting with the Coast Rail Coordinating Council which looks like it's a reiteration that they're more than a decade behind schedule for the Coast Daylight thanks to Union Pacific.

Ridership year over year
Surfliner: -5.0%
San Joaquin: +0.8%
Capitol Corridor: -3.1%
Coast Starlight: +11.4%
National: +0.8%
Coaster: -2.7%
Metrolink: +7.1%

Revenue year over year
Surfliner: -4.9%
San Joaquin: +2.4%
Capitol Corridor: +1.7%
Coast Starlight: +2.6%
National: -2.1%

The Surfliner Express gained passengers compared to the last couple months but is still 29% below July 2011's ridership. On-time performance dropped to a record low 47.6% thanks to to track work between Los Angeles and Fullerton. I really do have to wonder at what point they will simply pull the plug on what is obviously a failed experiment.

LOSSAN South OTP overall dropped to 52.6% for the Surfliner due to the aforementioned track work,  while Metrolink's OC Line, with tighter requirements for on time performance, was 83.9%

It's somewhat worrisome that the Surfliner's ridership decline is continuing and that it has now resulted in a drop in revenue, however, this may be a result of the track work delays again compounded by the fact that the raised fare period has run out (since this is the time of the summer peak fare). An additional partial cause may be cannibalization by increased Metrolink weekend service between Oceanside and Los Angeles, though I don't believe this would be a major factor.

As for the Coast Daylight, if the state has a legal right to the train slot as I've heard it does, it may very well be time to pursue some means of legal action against Union Pacific in order to launch the Daylight service. I do, however, continue to believe that it would be most successful as a premium fare night service running through between San Diego and Sacramento, timed to permit overnight business travel.

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