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Amtrak ridership reached a record high in fiscal-year 2011, which ended Sept. 30. The 40-year-old national intercity passenger-rail service transported 30.2 million riders, a 5 percent increase compared with 2010’s ridership and an all-time high. Twenty-six out of 44 Amtrak routes set a ridership records, with seven — up from five a year ago — transporting more than 1 million passengers.
Amtrak’s three main business lines all gained passengers during the fiscal year, with the Northeast Corridor and state-supported and short-distance routes setting new records. Long-distance trains had their “best ridership in 16 years,” Amtrak officials said in a prepared statement.
“Amtrak is fulfilling its national mission and is part of the solution to meet America’s growing transportation and energy needs,” said Amtrak President and Chief Executive Officer Joseph Boardman.
Transit agencies also experienced rising interest in rail during the first half of 2011. Although all major modes of public transportation registered more riders for much of the year, heavy rail and light rail gained the most in ridership during the period of January through June, according to the American Public Transportation Association (APTA).
Nationwide, heavy-rail ridership climbed 3.8 percent during the first half, APTA officials said. Heavy-rail systems that posted the greatest growth included those in San Juan, Puerto Rico; Cleveland; Baltimore; Boston; Miami; San Francisco; and Lindenwold, N.J., Port Authority Transportation Corp.
Meanwhile, light-rail ridership rose 3.7 percent and commuter-rail ridership increased 10 percent during the first half of the year. Light-rail systems that posted double-digit gains included those in Seattle; Portland, Ore.; Oceanside, Calif.; Alexandria, Va.; and Salt Lake City. Commuter-rail systems with double-digit increases included those in Portland, Maine; Albuquerque, N.M.; Stockton and Oakland, Calif.; and Pompano Beach, Fla.