Amtrak marked 17 consecutive months of year-over-year ridership growth, ending with the best March ever for the company and putting the railroad on track to set another annual ridership record.
"Our ridership has grown more than 36 percent since 2000, and I expect that trend to continue — and if gas prices continue to rise — to accelerate. Our only restriction will be the available capacity," Amtrak President/CEO Joe Boardman told a House Appropriations committee considering the national passenger railroad's FY 2012 budget request last week.
This strong performance is part of a long-term trend that has seen Amtrak set annual ridership records in seven of the last eight fiscal years, including more than 28.7 million passengers in FY 2010.
Specifically, there was a 5.5 percent increase in riders in March 2011 vs. March 2010, or more than 137,000 passengers. The 17 straight months of year-over-year ridership growth spans from November 2009 to March 2011 and averages a 6.3 percent growth rate over this period.
Comparing the first six months of FY 2011 (October to March) to the same time period in FY 2010 shows ridership is up 5.9 percent, or 802,745 passengers. In addition, during that same period ridership has increased on all three of Amtrak's major business lines: Northeast Corridor up 3.9 percent, state-supported and other short distance corridors up 7.7 percent, and long-distance trains up 5.3 percent.
Over the past six months ridership also is growing onboard most individual Amtrak train routes and across the country with strong gains in the Northeast, Southeast, Midwest and California.