Posts Tagged ‘Amtrak ridership’

Amtrak Touts Increased Ridership in FY2019

May 3, 2019

Amtrak said this week that ridership in fiscal year 2019 is up 1.3 percent over where it was in March 2018 and that the passenger carrier is on pace to reach the break-even mark in operating earnings by FY2021.

If the performance thus far holds up for the remainder of FY2019, Amtrak said this would make its best performing year in its 48 years of operation.

President Richard Anderson said in a statement that Amtrak is experiencing record growth and is seeking to develop new markets that now have limited or no intercity-rail service.

Anderson’s statement spoke of a changing landscape in America.

The news release also said that Amtrak is investing billions of dollars into modernizing its aging infrastructure, fleet and facilities as much of its rolling stock and locomotives near the end of their useful lives.

Some infrastructure that Amtrak uses dates to the early 1900s.

Missouri River Runner Ridership Down, Revenue Up

April 11, 2019

Ridership of Amtrak’s Missouri River Runners is down in fiscal year 2019 compared to this point in the past fiscal year but the fare box proceeds have been higher.

Missouri Department of Transportation officials said the St. Louis-Kansas City trains have carried 111,891 in FY2019, a drop of 1,400 from this point in FY2018.

Revenue between November 2018 and February 2019 was $3.798 million, up from $3.632 million in FY 2018.

“We were down five percent in the first quarter and only down one percent in the second quarter,” said Bryan Ross, MoDOT railroad operations manager. “We had a good winter. Each month, passenger numbers were up. We were down July through October due primarily to low gas prices and work on the tracks, which led to freight train congestion.”

The top four stations by percentage of ridership were Kansas City, St. Louis, Kirkwood and Jefferson City.

At the latter station, ridership between November and February was 25,491 compared to 25,197 during the same period in 2018.

Ross said equipment assigned to the trains is being refurbished, a process that is expected to be completed in early 2020. The work includes new paint, upholstery and carpeting.

“Amtrak has 80 passenger cars in their Midwest fleet, and Missouri pools with other Midwest states to use those cars,” Ross said. “As those cars get refreshed, they cycle into our system.”

Six cars are typically assigned to the River Runners. Ross said new passenger cars are expected to reach the trains by summer 2020.

“Once the cars are manufactured, they have to go through six months of testing before going into service,” he said.

The new cars are expected to offer smoother rides and have new seats and safety measures.

Each car will have lifts to allow people in wheelchairs easier access.

Ross said ridership numbers are not yet available for March when the River Runners were suspended for a while due to an increase in freight traffic on the host railroad Union Pacific.

UP rerouted some traffic to its St. Louis-Kansas City line after flooding of the Missouri River closed some routes in Missouri, Nebraska and Iowa.

During the service suspension, Amtrak provided chartered buses to all River Runner stations.

“It will be interesting to see what those numbers show, but we usually have a very solid customer base,” Ross said.

Virginia May Seek Amtrak Fare Cuts

December 7, 2018

In an effort to boost ridership, Virginia officials are mulling a fare cut for Amtrak travel within the state.

A study found that a 15 percent fare reduction would draw an estimated 51,000 additional riders onto trains, a 7 percent increase.

It also would cost the state $683,000 annually, which is about 1.3 percent of what the state collects in ticket revenues.

Fares would only be reduced for trips within Virginia and Washington on the four trains funded by the state for travel to Newport News, Norfolk, Richmond and Roanoke.

The proposed fare cut was one recommendation of a larger marketing study commissioned by the state’s Department of Rail and Public Transportation to study sagging ridership.

Ridership on Amtrak trains funded by Virginia fell 1.4 percent to 839,446 during Amtrak’s fiscal year 2018, which ended Sept. 30.

The lost revenue would be considered modest, a consultant said, when seen in the context of the desire of transit officials to maximize ridership over ticket revenue in an effort to get more cars off the road.

Although state officials still need to discuss the fare cuts with Amtrak, they hope to lower fares within the first three months of 2019.

They blamed the falling ridership on train cancellations caused by construction and extreme weather.

The ridership loss also occurred during a time when Amtrak was removing a number of fare discount programs.

“They used to have AAA and student discounts and all kinds of other things, and they got rid of that, and we thought, well, there are fewer people riding the train, how price sensitive are Virginia customers?” said Chris Smith, the Department of Rail and Public Transportation’s policy director.

The marketing study conducted for Virginia included a passenger survey and focus groups.

It suggested a 25-percent-off “saver” fare for tickets purchased two-weeks or more in advance as well as creating other fare bargains for Virginia-sponsored trains.

The reduced fares, if implemented, would drop the price of a trip from Roanoke to from $49 to $41.

Amtrak saver fares would still be less expensive for travelers who can plan trips in advance.

The fare cut idea was presented this week to the Commonwealth Transportation Board’s rail subcommittee where it received a largely favorable reaction.

“There’s a lot of people who don’t even think about using this as a transportation mode,” said Hampton Roads District board member John Malbon. “During a time when you have the capacity, why don’t you just fill the trains up and it’s a new customer?”

Roanoke District board member Ray Smoot concurred.

“The train’s running anyway,” he said.

Virginia officials are also seeking to prod Amtrak into making improvements, such as more reliable on-board WiFi and better food offerings.

They also want to see Amtrak do better in cleaning its trains.

Amtrak Touts FY2018 Performance

November 19, 2018

Amtrak proclaimed in a news release last week that it posted the best performance in its 47-year history.

The carrier said that it ended the fiscal year on Sept. 30 with an operating loss of $168 million, which it said was a 13 percent improvement over FY2017

The loss is based on adjusted earnings and excluded depreciation and other expenses.

Amtrak CEO Richard Anderson told Bloomberg News that the railroad’s losses would likely have been less than $100 million if not for a December 2017 derailment of a Cascades train in Washington state and a February 2018 derailment in which the southbound Silver Star was inadvertently routed into the path of a parked CSX auto rack train.

Amtrak said its ridership in FY2018 narrowly missed setting a record with 31.7 million trips. Revenue increased 2.2 percent to $3.4 billion.

Other points that Amtrak made in its news release included spending in $1.46 billion in capital investment, which it called  “the highest level . . . in recent history.

In the past year Amtrak has installed positive train control on more than 13,000 miles of the Amtrak network and spent more than $51 million spent on ADA-related projects at more than 100 locations nationwide.

Ridership aboard regional and state-supported trains posted gains, but long-distance train ridership fell 3.9 percent.

Amtrak attributed that loss “to the hundreds of trains truncated or canceled due to weather events, infrastructure outages, planned repairs, and poor on-time performance across much of the host railroad network used by Amtrak trains.”

Roanoke Ridership Meeting Expectations

June 28, 2018

Amtrak said recently that ridership of its Northeast Regional service to Roanoke, Virginia, has met expectations.

Since service began last late last October, 14,178 passengers have boarded the once daily train in Roanoke through April 30. The service has seen 13,591 passengers travel to Roanoke, which lost Amtrak service on Oct. 1, 1979, when the Hilltopper was discontinued.

Until the service was restored, many in the Roanoke region had traveled to Lexington, Virginia, to board Amtrak.

Ridership from Lexington has fallen since Amtrak began operating to Roanoke.

Statistics kept by the state of Virginia, which helps fund the service, shows that the record ridership from Roanoke was 3,288 in December with 2,941 traveling to the city.

This past April, ridership was 2,343 arriving and 2,327 departing.

Amtrak Expects Large Memorial Day Ridership

May 22, 2018

Amtrak is projecting that it will carry more than more than 320,000 passengers during the Memorial Day weekend, which is considered the traditional start of the summer travel season.

In a news release, the carrier said it expects heavy ridership during the summer months due to a spike in gasoline prices.

The news release touted Amtrak has a way to explore a new city, catch a baseball game, experience a summer musical festival or make your way to the beach.

Amtrak Carried 2,770 From Roanoke

December 18, 2017

During the first 30 days of service, Amtrak boarded 2,770 people in Roanoke, Virginia, which averages to 92 passengers per day.

Service to Roanoke began on Oct. 31 by extending a Northeast Regional train that terminated in Lynchburg, Virginia, to Roanoke.

Amtrak had forecast that ridership at Roanoke during the first year of service would be 38,000, an average of 104 passengers per day.

Amtrak spokeswoman Kimberly Woods said the carrier still expects to meet that projection, noting that ridership changes with the seasons.

Chicago-St. Louis Ridership Up 9%

December 6, 2017

Amtrak said that ridership in its Chicago-St. Louis corridor is growing and is up about 9 percent when compared with last year.

Amtrak spokesman Marc Magliari said upgraded track conditions and the completion of various construction projects has resulted in an uptick in passengers.

“The construction disruptions we have been enduring since about 2010 are pretty well gone. We’ve been able to run trains in nearly all the slots, not substitute buses,” Magliari said.

“The track improvements are pretty much in place so the promised improvements here on this route are coming true and the passengers are coming back because of it,” he said.

“There are 59,000 more people riding these trains between Chicago and St. Louis largely because some of the work we have been doing is paying off.”

In addition to the Chicago-St. Louis Lincoln Service trains, the corridor also hosts the Chicago-San Antonio Texas Eagle.

Cardinal Ridership Up 7.25% in FY2017

November 21, 2017

Amtrak’s Cardinal saw a 7.25 percent ridership boost in fiscal year 2017.

Figures released by the national passenger carrier show the tri-weekly Chicago-New York train carried 112,432 passengers, up 7,601 from FY 2016.

“It’s been inching up, but to have that kind of an increase is a good thing,” said Chuck Riecks, a vice president with the national Rail Passengers Association and co-chairman of West Virginia-based the Friends of the Cardinal group.

Riecks described the ridership figures as encouraging given the on-time issues Nos. 50 and 51 have had during this year’s operational problems on host railroad CSX.

He said Amtrak’s addition of business class service to the Cardinal in January 2016 helped to boost patronage.

The Cardinal serves eight stations in West Virginia and most of them saw an increase in ridership.

White Sulphur Springs handled 5,878 passengers, a 12.6 percent increase. The station serves passengers headed for the famous Greenbrier resort and was a beneficiary of the business class service, which features 18 leather seats, complimentary beverages and a lounge area reserved for business class and sleeper car passengers.

Thurmond — the smallest town in America with regularly scheduled passenger rail service — saw the largest proportional jump, an 18 percent increase to 345 passengers.

Other stations posting slight increases included Charleston (9,812 passengers), Prince (2,988) and Alderson (449).

The ridership figures for Huntington and Hinton fell in FY 2017, in part because Amtrak had attributed to those stations passengers riding Amtrak coaches on the New River Train.

That added about 2,800 passengers each year to each city’s ridership figures.

Hinton’s Cardinal ridership in FY 2017 dropped by 81 passengers from 7,344 to 4,463.

Huntington’s ridership fell by 14.5 percent from 10,723 to 6,925 passengers, or a decline of 998 passengers.

During the past year Amtrak removed its ticket agents from Huntington, thus ending ticket sales and checked baggage at that station.

“That clearly reflects the loss of the station agent,” Riecks said of the decline in Huntington passengers.

Montgomery also saw a decline in ridership, dropping from 669 to 500 passengers.

In the Chicago-Washington Capitol Limited route, the two West Virginia stations posted ridership gains.

Martinsburg handled 11,267 passengers, up 146, while Harpers Ferry saw a 12 percent increase in passengers to 8,267.

Amtrak Ridership up 1.5% in FY2017; Operating Loss Was Lowest it’s Been in Decades

November 16, 2017

Amtrak recorded its lowest operating loss in decades this year the carrier said on Thursday. The national passenger carrier said it broke passenger and revenue records for the year ending Sept. 30, helping to narrow its operating loss to $194 million.

During the period Amtrak recorded 31.7 million passenger trips, a 1.5 percent increase over FY2016 and had total revenue of $3.2 billion, an increase of 1.1 percent over FY 2016.

In breaking out ridership by service type, Amtrak said it carried 12 million in the Northeast Corridor, up 1 percent, which set a record.

State-supported trains carried 15 million passengers, a 2.1 percent increase, while the long-distance routes carried 4.6 million riders, an increase of 0.9 percent

Amtrak also set a record for cost recovery, covering 94.7 percent of its operating costs with ticket sales and other revenues.

“Over the next several years, we’re aiming to cover total operating costs from ticket and other revenues by strengthening our services and continuing to drive efficiency,” said Amtrak Board Chair Tony Coscia in a statement. “To do this, we are making investments in tracks and stations, on our trains, and in the delivery of customer service so that we can serve more customers with a better experience.”

Amtrak said it cuts its debt from $3.3 billion on Sept. 30, 2007, to $1.2 billion on Sept. 30, 2017, a reduction of 64 percent over the 10-year period.

Other notable milestones for Amtrak in FY2017 included a 19 percent increase in membership in its Amtrak Guest Rewards program and launching a national partnership with ride-sharing service Lyft.