Falling Gas Prices, Mild Winter Depress December Amtrak Ridership on Michigan, Indiana Routes

Lower gasoline prices and mild winter weather took a toll on Amtrak ridership in the Midwest in December.

News reports this week indicated that ridership on the Chicago-Grand Rapids, Michigan, Pere Marquette fell by 24 percent in December.

Amtrak logoPartronage had fallen 18 percent in the fourth quarter of 2015, for a loss of 4,800 riders between October and December.

Nearly half of that decline (2,559) occurred in December when revenue fell by $68,000 in December. For the quarter, Pere Marquette revenue fell by $132,675.

Ridership declined by 7.8 percent in St. Joseph, Michigan; about 9 percent in Chicago; 11 percent in Bangor, Michigan; 25.6 percent in Holland, Michigan; and 28 percent in Grand Rapids.

The Chicago-Indianapolis Hoosier State saw its December ridership fall from what it had been in December 2014.

An online report said the Hoosier State carried 3,043 last month versus 3,259 in 2014.

Earlier in 2015, Iowa Pacific Holding took over management of the Hoosier State, assigning its own equipment and on-board service crews. The IP service includes business class service that provide hot meals in a dome car.

Ticket revenue for the Hoosier State was $76,413 in December 2015 versus $83,878 in December 2014 when it was an Amtrak train.

Amtrak engineers and conductors continue to operate the quad-weekly Hoosier State under contract with IP.

Amtrak patronage at New Buffalo, Michigan, which is served by the Chicago-Detroit (Pontiac) Wolverine Service trains, rose 3.8 percent in December. On the same route, Niles saw a decline of 22.4 percent while Dowagiac was down 4.1 percent.

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