Amtrak sets new ridership recordsSTAFF REPORT | October 15,2012Vyto Starinskas / STAFF FILE PHOTO
An Amtrak employee jumps back onto the Ethan Allen Express train to New York while it crosses West Street in Rutland.Amtrak says more people are riding its passenger trains, including the Ethan Allen Express.
The national high-speed rail operator says its trains carried more than 31 million passengers in the fiscal year ending Sept. 30.
That marks the highest annual ridership total since Amtrak started operations in 1971.
Records were also set in other regions of the country, including New England.
The Downeaster passenger service between Maine and Boston saw ridership rise 4.3 percent to more than 541,000 passengers. Ethan Allen ridership between New York and Rutland was up 10 percent to more than 54,000, and the Vermonter from Washington to St. Albans had 5.5 percent more passengers at 82,000.
“People are riding Amtrak trains in record numbers across the country because there is an undeniable demand to travel by rail,” Amtrak President and CEO Joe Boardman said in a statement announcing the ridership figures.
“Ridership will continue to grow because of key investments made by Amtrak and our federal and state partners to improve on-time performance, reliability, capacity and train speeds.”
Boardman said factors contributing to Amtrak long-term ridership growth include improved passenger services such as Wi-Fi and eTicketing, high gasoline prices, continued growth in business travel on the Northeast Corridor, the increased appeal and popularity of rail travel, dissatisfaction with congested highways and air travel and effective marketing campaigns.
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