Placer-Bay Area commuter rail link picks up steam

By: Gus Thomson, Journal Staff Writer
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The Capitol Corridor commuter-rail system between Auburn and San Jose is back on track after suffering through some recessionary bumps. With some sectors of the economy in recovery mode, the rail service is reporting a steady upward trend in ridership and revenue – as well as unprecedented on-time performance thresholds. September saw Capitol corridor achieve 98 percent on-time performance – the best intercity passenger rail performance in the nation. Jim Holmes, a Placer County supervisor who chairs the Capitol Corridor Joint Powers Authority, said the Oakland-based commuter service is grateful for September’s spike in ridership to 1.6 million passengers. “Although ridership results struggled in the first five months of the fiscal year, we were thrilled to see it increasing 4 percent in the last seven months,” Holmes said. “”Revenue for the fiscal year also showed a 4 percent increase when compared to the previous fiscal year.” Holmes, who represents the Auburn area on the county board, said that a significant factor has been the consistent, high level of on-time performance the Capitol Corridor achieved all year. “We’re proud to have the most reliable intercity passenger rail service in the nation,” Holmes said. Ridership totals have benefitted from money-saving promotions as well as the recovering economy and improved performance on the Union Pacific tracks, said David Kutrosky, authority managing director. A Kids Ride Free on Weekends program and a Seniors Ride Half Off promotion lasts through the end of the month. Through August, more than 15,400 family members and 11,120 seniors took advantage of lowered fares along the 170-mile rail corridor. “Thousands of families and seniors took advantage of our discounted fares this summer, which helped fill our seats during off-peak travel periods,” Kutrosky said.