Highway and airport congestion along with higher gas prices may be factors behind Amtrak reporting that it is on target to set another new annual ridership record. Amtrak says its passenger counts across its national network for the first six months of fiscal year 2012 (October 2011 – March 2012) are up 3.7 percent over the same period last year when the current record was established.
All Amtrak business lines experienced growth in the first half of FY 2012 as compared to the same period the prior year, Amtrak says. This includes the Northeast Corridor (up 5.2 percent), long-distance trains (up 3.0 percent) and state-supported and other short-distance routes (up 2.7 percent.)
This ridership growth continues a long-term trend that has led to eight records in the last nine years, including 30.2 million passengers in FY 2011, Amtrak says.
“Amtrak achieving ridership records is important, but it is more critical that the right infrastructure be in place to continue this trend in the years to come and to provide safe, efficient and reliable rail transportation for all current and future passengers,” said President and CEO Joe Boardman.
Boardman explained the Northeast Corridor (NEC) in particular has seen strong ridership growth in recent years and demand for passenger rail service on this line is expected to significantly increase as population grows, highway and airport congestion worsen and gas prices rise throughout the region.
A record 30.2 million passengers traveled on Amtrak in FY 2011 on more than 300 daily trains that connect 46 states, the District of Columbia and three Canadian Provinces.