By Kimberley Donoghue
PBN Web Editor
WASHINGTON – Amtrak ridership reached 28,716,857 in the 2010 fiscal year that ended Sept. 30 and collected a record $1,742,991,134 in ticket revenue, mirroring its performance in 2008, the company said this week.
In 2008, Amtrak saw ridership grow to a record-high of 28,716,407 and saw $1,734,149,216 in revenue. The rail company slipped in 2009 to 27.2 million passengers and $1.6 billion in revenue, “mostly due to the recession,” said Amtrak representative Clifford Cole.
In a year-over-year comparison of Amtrak’s 2010 performance, ridership grew 5.7 percent - or about 1.55 million passengers - and ticket revenue grew by 9 percent or more than $140 million.
Amtrak said contributing factors to this year’s performance were: sustained high gasoline prices, the introduction of Wi-Fi on the high-speed Acela Express, a moderately-improved economic environment which encouraged business travel to pick up in the Northeast Corridor and the increased popularity of rail travel.
Consumer dissatisfaction and difficulties with air travel also added to Amtrak’s ridership in 2010, the train agency said, particularly in the Northeast Corridor, where the company holds 52 percent of the air-rail market between New York and Boston and 65 percent of the market between Washington and New York.
Ridership in the Northeast Corridor grew 4.3 percent from a year earlier to 10.4 million passengers. The Acela Express, which passes through Providence, saw ridership increase 6.6 percent to 3,218,718. The Northeast Regional, which passes through Providence as well as Westerly and West Kingston, added 3.3 percent more passengers to a total of 7.15 million. The two train routes brought in $440.1 million and $458.1 million in revenue, respectively.
Nevertheless, when compared with its 2008 levels, the Northeast Corridor ridership – including special trains – shrunk. Ridership in 2010 totaled 10.38 million compared with 10.9 million in 2008. Revenue also decreased to $899.1 million from $950.6 million two years earlier.
Amtrak noted that it is looking to expand capacity along the Northeast Corridor and is studying partnerships with states to expand existing services and establish new routes.
The company also said it has completed reviews of its long-distance trains as required under the Passenger Rail Investment and Improvement Act of 2008 and the reports are available on its website.