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Rail News Home Passenger Rail

November 2006

Rail News: Passenger Rail

Transit News

Amtrak posts ridership, revenue records in FY06

For the fourth-consecutive fiscal year, Amtrak posted record ridership. During the fiscal year ending Sept. 30, the national intercity passenger railroad carried 24.3 million passengers, up 1.3 percent compared with FY2005’s 24 million, which was adjusted from a record 25.4 million to reflect an October 2005 agreement to transfer “Clocker” service operations to New Jersey Transit.

The railroad also recorded all-time-high ticket revenue of $1.37 billion — $132 million more than FY2005.

Business thrives in the Northeast
In the Northeast Corridor, Amtrak’s ticket revenue reached $725.4 million, a 12 percent increase compared with FY2005 totals. However, ridership dipped slightly from

9.6 million to 9.4 million, in part because Amtrak reduced ticket discounts in FY2006, according to the railroad.

Ridership on state-supported and short-distance services outside the Northeast Corridor totaled 11 million, a 4.5 percent increase compared with FY2005 totals. Ticket revenue of $287.8 million rose 11.9 percent compared with FY2005’s figure.

The Portland, Maine-to-Boston Downeaster, which carried 337,921 passengers, posted the largest year-over-year short-distance corridor gain. The line also recorded ticket revenue of $4.6 million, up 27.2 percent.

On the Harrisburg-to-Philadelphia Keystone Corridor, ridership grew 12.7 percent to 823,097 and ticket revenue rose 15.4 percent to $15.9 million.

At 580,333 passengers, the Milwaukee-to-Chicago Hiawatha service surpassed FY2005’s ridership record by more than 10 percent. The service’s ticket revenue totaled $6 million, a 14 percent increase compared with FY2005’s total.

Meanwhile, ridership on Amtrak’s long-distance routes fell 1 percent compared with last year’s total despite ridership gains on the Silver Star, Palmetto and Lake Shore Limited services

WMATA’s GM search still on after Tangherlini resigns
Last month, Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority (WMATA) interim General Manager Dan Tangherlini announced he was resigning. He will take on the position as D.C. city administrator — provided that Democratic mayoral candidate Adrian Fenty was elected on Nov. 7.

Tangherlini had served as WMATA’s interim GM since February, when Richard White left the agency. A former director of the D.C. Department of Transportation, Tangherlini was a candidate for WMATA’s permanent chief. The board will continue to conduct a national search to fill the position. For now, WMATA’s Chief Operating Officer for Bus Jack Requa will serve as acting GM.

A 20-year vision in Dallas
The Dallas Area Rapid Transit (DART) board has approved a 2030 Transit System Plan, which outlines projects, construction schedules and budgets for the next 20 years.
The plan calls for adding another 40 miles of service to DART’s light-rail system, which currently is undergoing a separate expansion. The long-range plans include a Blue Line extension to South Port; 26-mile express service between the Red Line and DFW International Airport; a 4.3-mile Green Line branch; 4.3-mile Red Line extension; and six-mile line in West Dallas.

Metro-North notes shift in ridership patterns

What used to be the bread and butter of MTA Metro-North Railroad’s business isn’t anymore.

Of the record 74.5 million passengers who rode the system in 2005, 49.5 percent traveled from their suburban homes to New York City. Off-peak, reverse commute and intermediate passengers now make up the majority of Metro-North’s ridership.

Although ridership has grown in all categories, the number of NYC-bound commuters has increased 17 percent while other commuting segments have shot up 126 percent since Metro-North opened in 1984.

More riders are using Metro-North trains to travel from New York City to suburban employment centers and between stations not including NYC’s Grand Central Terminal, and for non-work-related trips, the agency said.

Metro-North officials attribute the shift in regional travel patterns to the dispersion of the financial, insurance and real estate industries, growing suburban corporate office parks and development of high-rise office towers in suburban cities. The agency has pursued those markets by adding trains, adjusting schedules, advertising and providing shuttle buses between stations and job sites.

“We knew our real growth opportunity lay in the non-traditional markets, where we had the empty seats,” said Metro-North President Peter Cannito in a prepared statement.

October a ground-breaking month for several agencies
Last month, two transit agencies broke ground on rail projects while a third got closer to doing so.

The Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Agency began the 8.5-mile downtown L.A.-to-Culver City Exposition light-rail line. Scheduled to be complete in 2010, the $640 million project includes building eight stations.

At the Tri-County Metropolitan Transportation District of Oregon, the agency started building the 14.7-mile Beaverton-to-Wilsonville Washington County commuter-rail line. Scheduled to be complete in September 2008, the project includes replacing and realigning track; building five stations and a vehicle storage facility; installing a signal system; and adding a second track along portions of the line.

Meanwhile, Virginia’s Hampton Roads Transit is getting closer to launching construction on a passenger-rail line. The Federal Transit Administration gave the agency the go-ahead to begin final design on the $232.1 million Norfolk Light Rail Project. Scheduled to be completed by early 2010, the 7.4-mile, 11-station line would run from the Eastern Virginia Medical Center through downtown Norfolk along the Interstate 264 corridor. Hampton Roads expects to obtain a Full Funding Grant Agreement for the project next year.

Contact Progressive Railroading editorial staff.