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RAIL EMPLOYMENT & NOTICES



Rail News Home Passenger Rail

1/20/2011



Rail News: Passenger Rail

Annual ridership up for Washington's Amtrak Cascades, Twin Cities' Metro Transit


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Ridership on Amtrak Cascades hit a 16-year high in 2010 at 838,251 passengers, a 10 percent increase compared with 2009, according to the Washington State Department of Transportation (WSDOT).

"This tremendous growth in ridership confirms the demand for Amtrak Cascades and the need to continue improving the service and reliability," said WSDOT Secretary Paula Hammond in a prepared statement. "The next steps in our long-term plan will improve rail infrastructure, reduce freight- and passenger-train congestion, and expand Amtrak Cascades service."

The state of Washington received $782 million in federal stimulus funds for high-speed rail in 2010. WSDOT plans to invest the federal money in Amtrak Cascades, a high-speed passenger rail service, state officials said.

In the fourth quarter, Amtrak Cascades set a new ridership record, too, with an increase of more than 1,700 riders vs. 2009, making it the highest fourth-quarter ridership since 1994.

Meanwhile, Metro Transit in Minneapolis/St.Paul reported a 2.3 percent increase in 2010 ridership on trains and buses compared with 2009.

For the fourth time in 30 years, annual ridership exceeded 78 million, said Metro Transit officials in a prepared statement.

Hiawatha light-rail trains logged 10.5 million rides, a 6 percent year-over-year increase and the highest annual ridership in the line’s six-year history.

However, ridership on the new Northstar commuter-rail line ended its first year at 710,400, nearly 21 percent below expectations. The rush-hour service, intended for commuters, was affected by a 7 percent unemployment rate, according to Metro Transit.

Still, Northstar's average weekday rides in December were 2.5 percent higher compared with 2009, a trend that has continued into January, with average weekday ridership up more than 14 percent, said Metro Transit General Manager Brian Lamb.