Amtrak announced that it is on pace to break its annual ridership record carrying a best ever 13,619,770 passengers during the first six months of fiscal year 2010 with the historically busier summer travel season still ahead.
The 13.6 million passengers who rode on Amtrak trains during the first two quarters of FY 2010 (October 2009 - March 2010) contributed to a 4.3 percent increase over the same period the prior year. It also is about 100,000 more riders than the 13.5 million posted in FY 2008, which turned out to be Amtrak's best ridership year in company history when America's passenger railroad carried 28.7 million passengers.
"Americans are beginning to travel again and are choosing Amtrak as an affordable and efficient way to move around the country," said President/CEO Joseph Boardman, noting a slowly improving economy and continued high fuel prices as factors in Amtrak ridership growth.
Comparing March 2010 to March 2009, ridership increased by 13.5 percent to a record 2.47 million passengers for the month. In addition, every single Amtrak route carried more passengers with several experiencing double-digit growth.
The Northeast Corridor experienced strong ridership growth in March with Amtrak's high-speed train, Acela Express, seeing a 14.3 percent increase and Northeast Regional trains up 12.9 percent. For the first six months of FY 2010, Acela service increased 2.9 percent and Northeast Regional service grew by 4.7 percent.
Ridership on long-distance trains increased by 16 percent in March and is up 5.2 percent for the first two quarters of FY 2010. Long-distance trains posting strong six-month numbers include City of New Orleans (Chicago - New Orleans ) up 16.4 percent, Sunset Limited (New Orleans - Los Angeles) up 15.1 percent, Silver Star (New York - Raleigh - Tampa - Miami) up 8.3 percent and Coast Starlight (Los Angeles - Seattle) up 7 percent.
The FY 2010 Amtrak ridership figures are consistent with the annual growth seen during the last several years that saw a 32 percent increase in passengers from FY 2002 to FY 2008. In order to continue to accommodate increasing demand for intercity passenger rail service, Amtrak recently requested $446 million from Congress to fund its Fleet Acquisition Program, which will help replace, expand and modernize its fleet of aging locomotives and passenger railcars.