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Rail News: Passenger Rail

Amtrak breaks records during 'lazy days of summer'


As summer draws to a close, Amtrak is breaking ridership and revenue records. The national passenger rail system drew more than 2 million riders in August — its highest monthly ridership in 21 years. And it also smashed its all-time monthly ticket-revenue record, pulling in $108.4 million.

"Summertime is always busy," says Karina Van Veen, Amtrak manager media relations, adding that people are growing tired of dealing with increased highway traffic and flight delays.

Through June, July and August, Amtrak carried more than 6 million passengers, up 6.6 percent over the same period in 1999. Ticket revenue for the same period was $317.7 million in 2000, a 16.5 percent increase over last year.

Acela Regional service, introduced earlier this year, scored highest-yet August numbers, with ridership of more than 72,000 and ticket revenue of just less than $4 million.

"Acela Regional is going gangbusters," says Van Veen. "Ridership is up 45 percent; revenue, 76 percent, compared with fiscal-year 1999 numbers on the trains Acela Regional replaced."

Overall, Amtrak’s northeast trains carried more than 1 million passengers (up 10.9 percent) and recorded ticket revenue of $53 million (up 21.5 percent from August 1999).

Amtrak’s long-distance trains also posted double-digit increases. Texas Eagle (Chicago-San Antonio-Los Angeles) carried 15,000 passengers, an increase of 55.9 percent compared with last year, and posted $1.66 million ticket revenue, up 44.7 percent compared with last year. Capitols service (Reno, Nev.-San Jose, Calif.) carried 83,771 passengers, an increase of 55.4 percent compared with August 1999. Ticket sales brought in $862,431, a 36.2 percent increase compared with the same period last year.

Amtrak’s fiscal year concludes Sept. 30. With October-to-August ridership of nearly 20.7 million, the passenger rail system is on target to surpass last year’s 21.5 million riders — and possibly even break Amtrak’s all-time ridership record of 22.2 million.

Kathi Kube

Contact Progressive Railroading editorial staff.

More News from 9/13/2000