Today’s yawner e-mail comes from the Capitol Corridor:
OAKLAND, CALIF., March 17, 2008 — The Capitol Corridor Joint Powers Authority (CCJPA) has announced the highest annual ridership in the history of the Capitol Corridor service. “The February statistics from Amtrak show that our 12-month ridership total hit 1,523,630 passengers last month,” said CCJPA Managing Director Eugene Skoropowski. “This ridership beat our previous threshold that we broke in January when 1,503,210 riders boarded our trains.”
My point is not to belittle the fine work of Luna Salaver, the Corridor’s new spokesperson. It’s just that setting records on public transit systems these days seems to happen every time a new set of stats comes out. That’s especially true of the Corridor.
If you’ve read the blog before, you probably know that it’s how I sometimes get to work from my quiet Central Valley enclave. I’m like so many other commuters, agonizing over the fact that driving is nearly always faster and hands-down more convenient when it comes to mobility at work.
But this is a different world we’re commuting in these days. I dread driving these days, knowing full well that gas alone will cost me about $17.50 even in my fuel-efficient compact Toyota. Tolls bring the tab about even with train fare, again without counting all the other costs of operating a car. I have trouble including those costs because I know I’m not going to get rid of my car just because I’m riding the train to work.
But it’s getting darned hard to find two unoccupied seats on the train these days. Corridor riders used to have the luxury of spreading out or laying across two seats and napping. That’s become nearly impossible at peak times.
As I’ve said before, what are we going to do when gas hits $4.50 a gallon? Then they’ll be standing on the train, and there won’t be any new cars to add to the trains, especially in this tight budget year.
Suddenly, the new emergency water transit agency is starting to make sense. At least there’s an area on its way toward a major expansion. When the Bay Bridge closed on Labor Day weekend, ferry riders were left waving at the dock for want of deck space.
BART can expand a little, but its ancient cars are in bad need of replacement and the agency is in court with the company that failed to come up with a system to make trains run more frequently through the Transbay Tube without compromising safety.
Yes, it was a lovely sentiment to think that people would regularly ride transit because they wanted to save the world, but this is about money, which, as they say, makes the planet go ’round.