NEW YORK – As Amtrak ridership across the country grew last fiscal year, some of the largest increases were seen in routes that travel through New England.
The Downeaster, operating daily between Portland, Maine and Boston, Mass., showed a dramatic 31 percent increase in comparison to passenger counts for the same time period a year ago. Downeaster trains carried 474,492 passengers during Fiscal Year 2008, which ended Sept. 30, 2008. Ticket revenue climbed by over 36 percent to over $6.5 million during the same period compared to Fiscal Year 2007.
“Our continued ridership growth is certainly impacted by the global economy and a growing awareness about the benefits of public transportation,” said Patricia Quinn, Executive Director, Northern New England Passenger Rail Authority, which funds the operation of the Downeaster service. “But it is also a reflection of the excellent service provided by the Downeaster crews, the efforts we have made to market the service, and our customer focus. People feel good when they ride the Downeaster, and that’s what keeps them coming back.”
Amtrak’s Empire Service, operating daily between Albany, Niagara Falls and Toronto, Canada, also enjoyed a strong year, with ridership levels increasing by almost 23 percent over the previous fiscal year and 19 percent higher than budget. 354,492 passengers traveled along this route in FY ’08, compared to 298,238 a year ago. Ticket revenues rose by over 29 percent, a $4.9 million hike, over FY ’07.
The Vermonter, which runs daily between Washington, DC and St. Albans in Northern Vermont, had another impressive year, surpassing last year’s ridership levels by more than 14 percent, 10 percent over budget, carrying 72,655 passengers during FY ’08 Ticket revenue was up by over 17 percent from the same time period a year ago. The Vermonter, which is run by Amtrak, is also supported by the State of Vermont.
Amtrak system-wide ridership in Fiscal Year 2008 increased to 28,716,407, marking the sixth straight year of gains and setting a record for the most passengers using Amtrak trains since the National Railroad Passenger Corporation stated operations in 1971.
“After another record-breaking year, in which the railroad achieved double-digit growth, Amtrak has solidified its role as a leader in the nation’s transportation network and proven intercity passenger rail’s relevance in today’s world,” said Alex Kummant, President and CEO of Amtrak. “Highway and airway congestion, volatile fuel prices and increasing environmental awareness all contributed to Amtrak’s successful year, as did our continually improving service and on-time performance.”