Amtrak sets ridership record during 2012 fiscal year

Amtrak set a new ridership record in FY2012, carrying 31.2 million passengers. Photo: Todd DeFeo

ATLANTA, Oct. 13, 2012 — More than 31.2 million passengers took Amtrak during 2012, setting a new ridership record for the railroad.

At the same time, Amtrak, which relies on taxpayer dollars, also reported a 6.8 percent increase in ticket revenue for the year, collecting more than $2 billion. That includes a 3.3 percent increase in ticket revenue on the Acela trains that operate in the Northeast.

Amtrak credits higher gas prices, more business travelers on the Northeast Corridor and “improved passenger services,” such as eTicketing, for the uptick in the number of travelers who chose rail. The Northeast Corridor, for example, saw a 4.8 percent increase in ridership to a record 11.4 million passengers.

People are riding Amtrak trains in record numbers across the country because there is an undeniable demand to travel by rail,” Amtrak President and CEO Joe Boardman said in a statement. “Ridership will continue to grow because of key investments made by Amtrak and our federal and state partners to improve on-time performance, reliability, capacity and train speeds.”

Amtrak, which noted a 49 percent increase in the number of passengers since 2000, said 25 of its 44 services set new records during the 2012 fiscal year, which ended Sept. 30. In addition, all 15 of its long-distance trains saw an increase in the number of passengers during the year, and July was the best single month in terms of ridership in the railroad’s 41-year history.

Amtrak’s busiest routes include the Acela and Northeast Regional trains operating on the Northeast Corridor and the Pacific Surfliner (between San Luis Obispo and San Diego in California), the Capitol Corridor (from the San Francisco Bay Area to Sacramento in California) and Keystone trains (between New York and Harrisburg, Pa.).

In 2011, the previous high mark for ridership, Amtrak ferried 30.2 million passengers.

The railroad isn’t expecting to see a slowdown anytime soon and is now gearing up what it expects to be a busy Thanksgiving.

Amtrak, which saw a record 724,000 travel by train during the Thanksgiving holiday a year ago, in a statement last week said it will “operate every available passenger rail car in its fleet.” In addition, the railroad “is scheduling extra trains to accommodate additional passengers in the Northeast, Midwest, and on the West Coast.”

The railroad is urging passengers to book their Thanksgiving holiday train tickets early to avoid missing out on the best availability and pricing.

Amtrak is expecting its ridership to increase moving forward, in part, as a result of new services.

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Todd DeFeo

Todd DeFeo jouned The Washington Times Communities in May 2012. He covers travel and Georgia. A marketing professional who never gave up his award-winning journalistic ways, DeFeo revels in the experience and the fact that every place has a story to tell. He also serves as editor of The Travel Trolley.


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