Best January ever for Auburn-to-San Jose Capitol Corridor commuter train

By: Gus Thomson/Journal Staff Writer
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A double-digit spike in ridership for January has helped the Capitol corridor commuter rail service set a record for the month. The Oakland-based Capital Corridor Joint Powers Authority reported setting a new ridership threshold for January on the Auburn-to-San Jose route. A total of 130,860 passengers rode trains last month – an 11 percent increase from the 117,860 who boarded Capitol Corridor trains in January 2010. Over the past 12 months, the Capitol Corridor has carried 1.62 million riders, which is a 4 percent increase compared to February 2009 through January 2010. Capitol Corridor officials credit the rise in ridership and revenue to a stellar on-time record, exceptional customer service and affordable fares. The one-way fare is $14 between Auburn and Sacramento. To Oakland, it’s $31. Several discounts are offered. “Our 96 percent on-time performance puts us at the top spot in the nation for reliable passenger rail service,” new Capitol Corridor Chairman Bob Franklin said. Franklin added that on-time performance is teaming with rising gas prices, stress-free rides, onboard comfort and frequency of trains to make riding the rails an affordable, viable and green alternative to driving. The Capitol Corridor is also banking on the addition of free wireless Internet by the end of the year to add one more reason to take a train. Placer County Supervisor Jim Holmes, who served as Capitol Corridor chairman for the past two years, said that wireless Internet is an example of how the service caters to customers. The late Robert Conheim, an Auburn-area resident who helped establish the C.C. Riders passenger group, helped establish an open communications link with the Capitol Corridor, he said. “Robert Conheim helped set it up so any rider with issues could give us a call,” Holmes said. “We go out of our way to make sure that riders’ needs are met.” Total ridership for passengers either boarding or exiting at Auburn in January was 2,339. The total for Rocklin was 2,810 passengers. In Roseville, the count was 4,668. A ruling by the California Transportation Commission allowed $3.75 million in cost savings from one Capitol Corridor project to be used to fund an on-board wireless system, said Managing Director David Kutrosky. Business model forecasts indicate that offering free wireless Internet access on trains, Kutrosky said. “This is a winning scenario for the communities we serve because more people on trains mean fewer cars on the road and cleaner air,” he added. ------------------------------------------------- By the numbers: Capitol Corridor on track 130,860 – number of passengers who rode Capital Corridor trains in January 11 – percent increase from same period a year earlier 2,339 – number of passengers who rode the Capitol Corridor to and from Auburn in January 2,810 – number of passengers on train to and from Rocklin 4,668 – number of passengers on Capitol Corridor to and from Roseville Source: Capitol Corridor Joint Powers Authority