Amtrak sets yet another ridership record

Amtrak setting the ninth annual ridership record in ten years is good news.  Amtrak setting the ninth ridership record in ten years after months of near constant Amtrak bashing is great news.  When NARP talks about there being "really basic factors that are driving the love for trains [that are] going to be difficult for any candidate to ignore," this is what we mean.

We’re printing the full press release, because this railroad deserves its day in the spotlight:

WASHINGTON – Amtrak carried more than 31.2 million passengers in Fiscal Year 2012 ending September 30, marking the highest annual ridership total since America’s Railroad® started operations in 1971 and the ninth ridership record during the last ten years.

A year-over-year comparison of FY 2012 to FY 2011 shows ridership grew 3.5 percent to a new record of 31,240,565 passengers and ticket revenue jumped 6.8 percent to a best ever $2.02 billion. In addition, Amtrak system-wide on-time performance increased to 83 percent, up from 78.1 percent and its highest level in 12 years.

"People are riding Amtrak trains in record numbers across the country because there is an undeniable demand to travel by rail," said President and CEO Joe Boardman. "Ridership will continue to grow because of key investments made by Amtrak and our federal and state partners to improve on-time performance, reliability, capacity and train speeds."

During FY 2012, ridership on the Northeast Corridor is up 4.8 percent to a record 11.4 million, state-supported and other short distance routes is up 2.1 percent to a record 15.1 million and long-distance services is up 4.7 percent to their best showing in 19 years at 4.7 million.

Also, FY 2012 produced other ridership achievements including new records for 25 of 44 Amtrak services, and 12 consecutive monthly records with July being the single best month in the history of Amtrak. Since FY 2000, Amtrak ridership is up 49 percent.

Boardman noted ridership numbers for FY 2013 will get an early boost this fall when the extension of Downeaster service to Freeport and Brunswick, Maine begins Nov. 1, and Amtrak Virginia Northeast Regional service is extended to Norfolk, Va., starting Dec.12.

Factors contributing to Amtrak long-term ridership growth include improved passenger services such as Wi-Fi and eTicketing, high gasoline prices, continued growth in business travel on the Northeast Corridor, the increased appeal and popularity of rail travel, dissatisfaction with congested highways and air travel, and effective marketing campaigns.

Amtrak intends to provide FY 2012 ridership information by state and station next week.


Ridership Highlights FY 2012 vs. FY 2011

Northeast Corridor (NEC) The NEC between Washington and Boston had a 4.8 percent increase in ridership to its best year ever with more than 11.4 million passengers. Specifically, ridership on the Northeast Regional service is up 6.6 percent to a new record of more than 8.0 million and the high-speed Acela Express is up 0.5 percent to its second-best year ever to nearly 3.4 million.

Northeast Ridership on the Keystone Service (New YorkHarrisburg) is up 5.8 percent to a new record of more than 1.4 million. Other ridership record setting routes include: Downeaster (BostonPortland) up 4.3 percent to more than 541,000; Adirondack (New YorkMontreal) up 5.3 percent to nearly 132,000; and Ethan Allen (New YorkRutland, Vt.) up 10 percent to more than 54,000. Routes with notable percentage growth increases include Vermonter (Washington – St. Albans, Vt.) up 5.5 percent to more than 82,000, Empire Service (New York – Albany) up 3.8 percent to more than 1.06 million and Pennsylvanian (New York – Pittsburgh) up 2.2 percent to more than 212,000.

Chicago Hub / Midwest The combined ridership on the Chicago-St. Louis corridor from Lincoln Service and Texas Eagle trains increased 11 percent to set a new record of more than 675,000 passengers. Other routes setting ridership records include: Hiawatha Service (ChicagoMilwaukee) up 2.3 percent to more than 838,000; Missouri River Runner (St. LouisKansas City) up 5.3 percent to nearly 196,000; and Blue Water (ChicagoPort Huron) up 1.1 percent to more than 189,000.

West Coast San Joaquin (BakersfieldOakland) is up 7.2 percent to new record of more than 1.1 million riders. Capitol Corridor (San Jose – Sacramento/Auburn) up 2.2 percent also set a new record with nearly 1.75 million passengers.

Virginia and North Carolina In Virginia, the WashingtonLynchburg service is up 14.1 percent to a new record of almost 185,000 and the WashingtonNewport News service is up 11.9 percent also to a new record of nearly 624,000 passengers. In North Carolina, the Piedmont (Charlotte – Raleigh) set a new record of more than 162,000 riders and had the best percentage increase of all Amtrak routes at 16.2 percent.

Long-Distance Routes All 15 Amtrak long-distance routes experienced an increase in passengers resulting in their best combined ridership numbers in 19 years. Routes setting new ridership records include: Lake Shore Limited (ChicagoNew York) up 4.3 percent to almost 404,000; Texas Eagle (ChicagoSan Antonio) up 12.8 percent to nearly 338,000; and City of New Orleans (ChicagoNew Orleans) up 8.5 percent to more than 253,000. Routes with significant percentage growth in ridership include: the Empire Builder (Chicago – Seattle/Portland) up 15.8 percent to more than 543,000; Coast Starlight (Los AngelesSeattle) up 6.5 percent to more than 454,000; and Cardinal (New YorkChicago) up 4.9 percent to more than 116,000.

Amtrak FY 2012 Ridership Facts

  • 25 of 44 Amtrak services set new ridership records
  • Amtrak set 12 consecutive monthly ridership records; July was the single best month in the history of Amtrak
  • Northeast Corridor had best year ever with more than 11.4 million passengers
  • State-supported and other short distance routes had best year ever with 15.1 million passengers.
  • All 15 long-distance routes saw an increase in riders and combined had best ridership in 19 years with 4.7 million passengers
  • From FY 2000 to FY 2012, Amtrak ridership is up 49 percent


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0 #3 Allan S. Eckert 2012-12-04 05:28
Quoting edd:
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0 #2 edd 2012-10-15 18:45
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0 #1 Woody 2012-10-12 19:15
The problem with Amtrak is the great nationwide shortage of it. There's enormous pent-up demand. Millions of people are waiting to ride the trains, but where are those trains?

We need that proposed fleet order of 200 railcars a year, not just for six years, but for a dozen and more. We need more capacity on the current trains, we need more trains on existing routes, we need new and restored routes.

The population continues to increase AND to age, so the market is there. But the haters have kept Amtrak from growing to meet the national need. Now it's time to get on the move.

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