WASHINGTON — Amtrak ridership in Fiscal Year 2007 increased to 25,847,531, marking the fifth straight year of gains and setting a record for the most passengers using Amtrak trains since the National Railroad Passenger Corporation started operations in 1971.
This total, for the period October 1, 2006-September 30, 2007, topped the 24,306,965 for the previous 12 months and is greater than the passenger count of 25.03 million reached in 2004, before Amtrak transitioned some services to a commuter rail operator.
Total ticket revenue for the fiscal year, $1.5 billion was an 11 percent increase over the $1.37 billion in FY06. If other income from contract services is included, the railroad’s total revenue was $2.2 billion for the fiscal year.
“Highway and airway congestion, volatile fuel prices, increasing environmental awareness, and a need for transportation links between growing communities, are some of the factors that make intercity passenger rail extremely relevant in today’s world,” said Alex Kummant, President and CEO of Amtrak. “Combined with the efforts of the hardworking men and women of Amtrak who make our service work, our investment in the Northeast Corridor is paying dividends with improved on-time performance (OTP), and that draws in more ridership and revenue.
“Our record setting ridership and ticket revenue in FY07 indicate the stage is set for Amtrak to take on a role as not only a contributor to the nation’s transportation network, but as a leader among modes,” he added.
Revenue growth was the greatest in the Northeast, where revenue reached $829.3 million, a 14 percent increase over last year’s ticket revenue.
The popularity of the Acela Express service continued in FY07 as is evidenced by the 20 percent increase in ridership (3.1 million passengers) and 23 percent climb in ticket revenue ($403.5 million) versus last year. Acela Express service saw an increase in OTP, frequently surpassing its goal of 90 percent. At year-end, the OTP for Acela Express was 87.8 percent, up more than three percent over the same period last year. The popularity and high demand for this service also prompted the creation in July of another weekday Acela Express round trip between New York and Washington.
Regional Service ridership continues also to rise: 6.6 million passengers rode Regional trains in FY07, an increase of 1.2 percent. Additionally, Regional passenger ticket revenue for period rose 7.2 percent.
The Keystone Service, which operates between Harrisburg, Philadelphia, and New York City experienced significant growth with a 20.7 percent increase in ridership, reaching 988,454 in FY07. Moreover, ticket revenue increased by nearly 30 percent, to $20,582,838.
Last fall, Amtrak and the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation with support from the Federal Transit Administration, introduced all-electric service with speeds up to 110 mph on the Keystone Corridor, which has reduced travel times between Harrisburg and Philadelphia and Harrisburg and New York City by between 15 and 45 minutes. Weekday roundtrips have also increased from 11 to 14 — with ten traveling through to New York.
The Downeaster, operating daily between Portland, Maine and Boston, Massachusetts, added a fifth round trip to its service this past August. The service achieved a seven percent increase in ridership in FY07, reaching 361,634. The Downeaster also brought in $4.8 million in ticket revenue, a 5.3 percent increase from a year ago.
Huge gains are tied to increased frequencies in Illinois, with the three routes between Chicago and downstate communities showing large increases. The Illinois Department of Transportation (IDOT) has more than doubled the size of its contract with Amtrak, providing three of the five round-trips on the Chicago-St. Louis corridor and two round-trips each on the Carbondale and Quincy routes, starting late last October.
On the Chicago-St. Louis Lincoln Service corridor, ridership on state trains more than doubled, rising by 108 percent, while total ridership on the corridor rose by 42 percent to 477,888. Ridership between Chicago and Carbondale, the route the Illini and Saluki trains share with the City of New Orleans, is up by 67.4 percent for the state-supported trains and 46 percent for the corridor, totaling 263,809. For the Chicago-Galesburg-Quincy route of the Illinois Zephyr, Carl Sandburg and other trains, ridership has gained 41.4 percent for the state-sponsored trains and 33 percent for the route, with 194,535 passengers.
Also from the Amtrak hub in Chicago is the Hiawatha Service, with up to seven daily round-trips sponsored by the Wisconsin Department of Transportation with IDOT. Nearly 600,000 passengers rode the trains between Milwaukee and Chicago last year, an increase of 2.6 percent.
The state-supported routes in Michigan — Grand Rapids-St. Joseph-Chicago Pere Marquette and the Port Huron-East Lansing-Chicago Blue Water — also posted increases. Ridership on the Pere Marquette was up 2.8 percent and on the Blue Water, 3.1 percent.
California’s Capitol Corridor service which operates between Auburn and San Jose, carried more than 1.4 million passengers in FY07, a 15 percent increase over the same period last year. Ticket revenue topped $18 million, a 21 percent increase over the previous 12 months. In addition, the San Diego-San Luis Obispo Pacific Surfliner, showed a nine percent increase in ticket revenue, reaching more than $46 million.
Among the trains on the Amtrak national network, the Empire Builder is again the most popular overnight train. With more than a half-million passengers, the daily Chicago-St. Paul-Seattle/Portland train showed an increase of 1.6 percent.
Also, the Auto Train, which operates between the Washington, D.C and Orlando areas, posted a ridership increase of five percent from last year.
Long-distance trains recording above-average ridership performances include the New Orleans-Tucson-Los Angeles Sunset Limited (up 22.1 percent), Chicago-Albuquerque-Los Angeles Southwest Chief (up 5.4 percent) and Chicago-Memphis-New Orleans City of New Orleans (up 3 percent). In addition, the New York-Miami Silver Service trains (Silver Meteor-Silver Star) achieved ridership gains of 6.9 and 5.7 percent respectively and the Palmetto’s passenger number jumped by 7.5 percent over the previous 12 months.