Some good news. In the 2013 federal fiscal year which ended Sept. 30th, the National Railroad Passenger Corp. – better known as Amtrak – set a new ridership record meaning it broke the previous one set in FFY 2012. A total of 31.6 million passenger trips were made on Amtrak trains, according to Tim Sheehan in “Amtrak’s San Joaquin trains set ridership record” in the Oct. 14, 2013 The Fresno Bee. This is a 1.3 percent improvement over 2012 FFY numbers when 31.2 million such trips were made.
Thirty-one-point-six-million represents approximately 10 percent of the total U.S. population. If evenly distributed, this would be roughly 86,575 Amtrak trips made on average per day. What this means is that this many daily trips were not made in gross polluting motor vehicles. And, this is of tremendous benefit to the air and the environment.
Two corridors of particular note are the Chicago-to-St. Louis Lincoln service and the Bakersfield-to-Oakland/Bakersfield-to-Sacramento San Joaquin service which saw jumps of 9.7 and 6.6 percent over the prior year’s numbers, respectively. These were the number 1 and 2 best performing corridors in the nation, according to Sheehan.
Interestingly, “State-supported Amtrak’s corridor trains in the Northeast, Midwest, Northwest and California accounted for half the ridership total,” McClatchy News’ Washington, D.C. Bureau correspondent Curtis Tate reported. “Its long-distance routes also posted their best year in 20 years, said [Amtrak] president and CEO Joe Boardman.”
Bottom line, this is hardly a case of Amtrak ridership going nowhere fast, but rather the case can be made that train trips on the national passenger rail carrier have been going nowhere but up. And that speaks volumes!