News Brief

NNEPRA reports May ridership missed FY2017 target by 5%, due to loss of approximately 2,500 riders because of weekend curtailments and heat restrictions. May ridership was only 261 passengers below May of last year. FY2017 YTD ridership is 9% ahead of target. When the June numbers come in, FY2017 promises to be a very successful year. 

NNEPRA held is regular monthly meeting on Monday. TrainRiders/NE's Legal Councilor F. Bruce Sleeper provided the following summary:

  • Executive Director Patricia Quinn said that April ridership is now about 1800 passengers more than last year, so the Downeaster continues to do well on that front, although a bit below the targets NNEPRA set even in January and March.  They are also below targets on revenues, again even in January and March.   Budget Manager Marina Douglas reported that about ½ of that is from reduced ticket revenue, and the rest is from reduced café income.  Overall, though, she reported that we are doing pretty well because costs are about $2.2 million less than budgeted, mostly because of fuel (budgeted at $3.50/gallon, actual at $1.62/gallon).  Food service expenses are down about 16%, but net cost is $47/passenger, with a budgeted figure of $.35/passenger.  Café cost recovery is 73% versus a goal of 83%.  Overall, the operational cost recovery for the service is about 53% versus a projected 50%.
  • There will be a schedule change effective on 5/23 to coordinate with an MBTA schedule change.  The late-night train will return to a 11:25 PM departure time to accommodate Red Sox fans, and Old Orchard Beach will resume at that time as well.
  • NNEPRA has submitted a grant request to PACTS for funds to help with the Royal Junction Siding. 
  • NNEPRA is in the process of reviewing modifications to its fare plan.  Currently, all commuter passes between Boston and stops north of Exeter cost $299, with the Exeter and Haverhill passes priced at $279 per month.  It appears that NNEPRA will be increasing all passes to $299 per month, which will allow all pass holders to travel the full-length of the service.  NNEPRA is also looking into modifying its ordinary tickets to reflect the various levels Amtrak has throughout its system, which are based upon the relative flexibility of cancellation and refund. 
  • Apparently, the FAST Act includes money for a State-Amtrak Intercity Committee to be distributed by the FRA to a state entity.  It looks like NNEPRA will be receiving the money and will contract with AASHTO to administer it.  Finally, Ms. Quinn and staff have started meeting with OPEGA, which hopes to complete its audit this September.

Other News:

  • On Time Performance for March was 93%!
  • Customer Satfisfaction was 92 as opposed to Amtrak's 86.