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3/10/2011    Ridership

Rail News: News

Amtrak reaches 16-straight months of ridership growth


Amtrak's ridership rose 7.6 percent to 2.9 million riders last month, marking the national intercity passenger railroad’s best February on record.

The increase also marked 16 consecutive months of ridership growth, spanning from November 2009 to February 2011. Ridership averaged a 6 percent growth rate in the period.

Amtrak attributed the ridership growth to a "moderately improved" economy, higher gasoline prices, more effective marketing campaigns and the addition of Wi-Fi on high-speed Acela Express trains.

"We anticipate demand for rail travel will increase with the rise of gasoline prices," said Amtrak President and Chief Executive Officer Joe Boardman in a prepared statement.

February ridership highlights include:

• In the East, Acela Express ridership increased 9.7 percent in the Boston-New York City-Washington, D.C. corridor; 9.3 percent on the Adirondack from New York City to Montreal; 101.8 percent on the Piedmont service from Charlotte to Raleigh, N.C.; 28 percent on the Washington, D.C.-Lynchburg service; and 16.8 percent on the Washington-Newport News.

• In the Midwest, the Chicago hub's steep ridership gains were led by the Blue Water’s Chicago-to-Huron service at 26.4 percent. Also, ridership on the Chicago-Pontiac Wolverine service rose 18 percent; Chicago-Carbondale route grew 16 percent; and Chicago-St. Louis corridor increased 8 percent. In addition, the Missouri River Runner service from Kansas City to St. Louis, Mo., rose 14.6 percent, and the Heartland Flyer service from Oklahoma City to Fort Worth, Texas, rose 8.8 percent

• In the West, California's ridership gains included the Capitol Corridor service from San Jose to Auburn at 8.4 percent, and the Pacific Surfliner service from San Luis Obispo to San Diego at 6.1 percent.

• Among long-distance trains, the Cardinal (New York City to Chicago) had the largest increase at 17.1 percent; followed by Palmetto (New York to Savannah, Ga.) at 16.6 percent; the Sunset Limited (New Orleans to Los Angeles) at 12.6 percent; the City of New Orleans (Chicago to New Orleans) at 10.9 percent; and the Lake Shore Limited (New York to Chicago) at 10.6 percent.

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