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Rail News Home Passenger Rail

October 2018

Part 1 : Progressive Railroading's Passenger Rail at a Glance 2018: Preface

Part 2 : Progressive Railroading's Passenger Rail at a Glance 2018: Amtrak, California, & Colorado

Part 3 : Progressive Railroading's Passenger Rail at a Glance 2018: District of Columbia, Florida, Georgia and Illinois

Part 4 : Progressive Railroading's Passenger Rail at a Glance 2018: New Jersey, New York, Ohio & Oregon

Part 5 : Progressive Progressive Railroading's Passenger Rail at a Glance 2018: Pennsylvania, Texas, & Washington

Rail News: Passenger Rail

Progressive Railroading's Passenger Rail at a Glance 2018: Preface


By Julie Sneider, Senior Associate Editor

In first-quarter 2018, commuter-rail ridership in the United States ticked up 0.8 percent compared with Q1 2017’s total, with 14 out of 30 transit systems reporting increases, according to American Public Transportation Association (APTA) data. Some cities even reported double-digit ridership increases.

At the same time, overall ridership on U.S. heavy-rail — subways and elevated trains — and light-rail systems fell by 3.8 percent and 5.6 percent, respectively, in the first-quarter compared with the same period a year ago.

APTA officials attribute the ridership decline in part to the popularity of ride-share services such as Uber and Lyft. In response, several transit-rail agencies and passenger railroads are partnering with Uber, Lyft and similar companies to address the “first-and-last-mile dilemma,” which means helping riders get from their homes to the train station and back.

Figuring out how to survive in a transportation landscape that’s in flux is just one major challenge that transit-rail agency leaders say they’re facing this year, according to survey responses they submitted to Progressive Railroading for the 2018 edition of “Passenger Rail at a Glance.” Several indicated their high-priority concerns were similar to those expressed in more recent years: keeping their trains and rail infrastructure in a state of good repair; continuing to build rail extensions to connect outlying communities to downtowns and employment centers; refurbishing and rehabbing rail stations; tightening security; improving safety; and completing implementation of positive train control systems.

Overlaying all those issues is figuring out how to pay for it all. “Funding, funding, funding,” is how one transit official described their agency’s top concern. Other agencies’ leaders cited the general uncertainty over federal grant funding, particularly for new transit projects. To be sure, how that and other trends evolve will be closely watched by passenger-rail execs and their staffs over the coming year.

Why isn’t my railroad listed?

As in prior years, Passenger Rail at a Glance is created primarily from survey information submitted by transit-rail agencies. If your railroad is not included in the 2018 guide and you would like it to be included in the 2019 guide, please contact me at

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