Amtrak exploring feeder bus routes on Crescent route

ATLANTA — Amtrak could add bus routes to cities located near, but not along, its Crescent route, which the railroad believes will increase “ridership and revenue while expanding the reach of the intercity passenger rail network,” the railroad said in a recent report.

Such bus routes would connect the Atlanta Amtrak station with Macon, Ga.; Columbus, Ga.; Dalton, Ga.; and Chattanooga, Tenn.; the railroad indicated. Amtrak estimates annual ridership on the routes would exceed 17,000 passengers and result in a net revenue of $600,000 per year.

The bus service is just one of several upgrades the railroad is considering making to the Crescent. Amtrak also is considering running shorter versions of the Crescent passenger train between Atlanta and New Orleans to save money because of lower ridership numbers.

“New passengers attracted by these feeder (bus) routes would utilize a portion of the newly created coach capacity north of Atlanta,” the railroad said. However, if Amtrak cannot implement its plan to run longer trains north of Atlanta because of operational limitations, the additional bus routes serving the Atlanta station would likely be dropped, the railroad indicated in its report.

Amtrak would first need permission from the city of Atlanta to create a bus stop on Deering Street where the station is located. However, Amtrak might be unable to implement the bus service in Atlanta because of the space constraints of the current station.

“The current station presents major difficulties for implementing connecting bus service due to the very limited availability of curbside space useable for bus loading and unloading,” the railroad admitted in its report.

As an alternative, the railroad could also consider changing the bus transfer stop from Atlanta to Gainesville, Ga., the train’s first stop north of Atlanta.