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Rail News: Passenger Rail

Rail ridership: Breaking records, building revenue


No matter how you measure it - whether by calendar year, fiscal year or day - rail ridership is on the rise.
The Transit Ridership Report for first-quarter 2000 (compiled by American Public Transportation Association) shows heavy rail ridership grew 7.41 percent January through March, compared with the same period in 1999.

Ridership for light rail increased 4.79 percent; commuter rail by 5.44 percent during the same period.
By comparison, bus ridership rose 3.66 percent and trolleybus ridership increased 5.52 percent.

Looking at agencies with the top 10 ridership gains, California clearly leads the field, with six agencies posting more-than-respectable growth. Moving east, Denver, Dallas, Memphis, Tenn., and Washington, D.C., fill out the geographic round-up.

Some passenger rail systems even are posting annual, quarterly, monthly and daily records.

Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority (WMATA) ended its fiscal-year 2000 on June 30 with 163.28 million trips taken - 8 million more than in fiscal-year 1999.

In June, WMATA's nearly 15.2 million trips taken surpassed June 1999 ridership by 1 million trips.
But March 2000 - raking in 15,232,909 trips - remains the agency's record month.

All this and Amtrak, too

At least one other passenger rail system had a good June.

Amtrak recorded its highest monthly ridership since 1991, with more than 2 million passengers opting to ride its trains.

And, June's strong ridership propelled the national passenger railroad to collect more than $100 million in monthly ticket revenue for the first time in the railroad's 29-year history.

Quarterly, Amtrak's ridership increased 8 percent, while its revenue increased 13 percent in April to June 2000, compared with the same period in 1999.
The ridership records set this summer include daily totals, too.

San Francisco's Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART) hit a record 353,000 trips taken on a regular weekday, nearly edging out the 357,000 trips taken during a single day in October 1989 when the Bay Bridge was closed due to the Loma Prieta earthquake.

As pockets of congestion continue to choke the nation's highways, rail ridership may likely continue its comeback.

Contact Progressive Railroading editorial staff.

More News from 8/25/2000