Amtrak Sets New Ridership Record, Rivals Air Travel

For its fiscal year ended Sept. 30, Amtrak set a new annual ridership record of 28,716,857 passengers, from whom it collected a record $1.74 billion in ticket revenue, it announced last week, calling the strong performance "evidence that the demand for passenger rail service is rising" and proof that more Americans are choosing Amtrak because it's "a greener and more convenient travel mode."

Year-over-year, total Amtrak ridership grew by 5.7 percent, or about 1.55 million passengers, while ticket revenue increased by 9 percent, or more than $140 million. Since FY2000, ridership is up nearly 37 percent.

"We thank every passenger for choosing Amtrak to meet their intercity travel needs," Amtrak President and CEO Joseph Boardman said in a statement. "More and more people see passenger rail as a way to get to where they need to go, and when our front line employees put them first, it helps to bring passengers back for another trip."

Amtrak said it owes its success to several factors, including a moderately improved economy, which facilitated a business travel recovery along the Northeast corridor; the increased appeal and popularity of rail travel; effective marketing campaigns; the introduction of WiFi on high-speed express trains; sustained high gasoline prices; and continued consumer dissatisfaction with air travel, which has helped it capture 65 percent of the air-rail market between Washington, D.C., and New York and 52 percent of the air-rail market between New York and Boston.

To maintain its growth going forward, Amtrak said it's pursuing several initiatives, including partnering with states to expand existing services and establish new routes, buying 130 new passenger cars with which to modernize its fleet, expanding capacity in the Northeast to support growing demand, and promoting its vision for a next-generation high-speed rail service capable of achieving 220 miles per hour.

For more information, including complete ridership data from each of Amtrak's lines, visit