Northern California’s Capitol Corridor will introduce a new schedule March 29 “that better reflects current ridership demand,” with an eye on “restoring full, pre-pandemic service” in 2022, according to the Capitol Corridor Joint Powers Authority (CCJPA).
Changes to the intercity passenger rail service come nearly a year to the day that the pandemic and resulting travel restrictions required service cuts from as many as 30 trains per day to just 10, seven days per week, according to CCJPA. Capital Corridor serves 18 stations along a 170-mile route connecting the counties of Placer, Sacramento, Yolo, Solano, Contra Costa, Alameda, San Francisco (via bus) and Santa Clara (see map below). In June 2020, service increased to 16 weekday trains and 10 on weekends—55% of pre-pandemic levels.
The biggest spring schedule change is the addition of a direct, round-trip train on weekdays between Auburn and San Jose, allowing riders to travel the entire route without a transfer. The new schedule also includes the return of a sixth round-trip between San Jose and Oakland.
Described as a “pulse schedule,” it features adjustments to departure times so they are “more consistent and predictable,” and “a better distribution of trips throughout the day with smaller gaps between morning and midday trains,” CCJPA said.
While the schedule is temporary, as “local health officials continue to monitor conditions, businesses gradually open and people begin to feel more comfortable traveling,” CCJPA reported, Capitol Corridor expects to follow up “with additional increases in service this summer, with an eventual restoration of full service in 2022. The agency is also looking forward to phasing café service back in, hopefully this summer, as state guidance allows.”
“We cannot wait to welcome our passengers back,” said Rob Padgette, Managing Director of the Corridor. “There are a lot of variables involved in planning our return to our full, pre-pandemic level of service, including public health conditions, train equipment availability and budget. But now is the time to start moving in that direction, and this schedule puts us in a position to achieve that goal.”