Capitol Corridor commute from Sacramento to South Bay now 5 minutes faster, officials say

Capitol Corridor commuters traveling between Sacramento and the South Bay Area just got five minutes of their lives back, transportation officials say.

A new timetable went into effect Monday, reportedly reducing travel times and delays of nearly a dozen trains on the 170-mile route between San Jose and Auburn, according to a Capitol Corridor news release.

The new schedule released by Capitol Corridor Joint Powers Authority marks the completion of its $12 million rail infrastructure improvement Travel Time Savings Project in partnership with the California Department of Transportation, the California State Transportation Agency and Union Pacific, according to the release.

CCJPA began the project on October 2016 with the goal of reducing run times between Sacramento and San Jose by 10 minutes, according to a December 2018 project update. Sacramento-San Jose trains now depart up to 10 minutes earlier and arrive up to 15 minutes earlier, according to the Capitol Corridor website. The commute features upgraded tracks and higher authorized speeds, CCJPA Managing Director David Kutrosky said in the project’s promotional video. Bus schedules were also adjusted to ensure travelers reach their connections on time.

“Not only do the upgrades reduce the overall time it takes a train to travel along the entire route,” said Kutrosky, “but the trains have also been more efficiently scheduled, so there’s less potential for delays, thus improving on-time performance for our passengers.”

The project is central to Capitol Corridor’s long-term vision and part of the state transportation agency’s Transit and Intercity Rail Capital Program vision, both aimed at increased ridership and reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

Capitol Corridor rider count has been increasing steadily since 2013. Ridership increased by 269 percent between 1998 and 2018, reaching a five-year high of 1.7 million riders, according to an annual report. Nearly two-thirds of riders reported that they would drive alone if they didn’t have the Capitol Corridor alternative.

The Transit and Intercity Rail Capital Program goal is to increase passenger rail ridership 11-fold by 2040, Caltrans Assistant Director Chief Kyle Gradinger said in the release.

More improvements are upcoming on Capitol Corridor Lines, according to CCPJ Board Chair Rebecca Saltzman.

“This project represents the first of many that we expect over the next several years to reduce travel times, improve reliability and enhance our customer service,” she said in the release.

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Caroline Ghisolfi, from Stanford University, is a local news reporter for The Sacramento Bee, focusing on breaking news and health care. She grew up in Milan, Italy.