Amtrak Ridership Recedes from Record High

Amtrak's ridership figures took a hit during Fiscal Year 2009, as a nearly 9% drop in its Northeast Corridor services dampened respectable performance elsewhere and led to a retreat from FY 2008's record-setting 28.7 million passengers carried. Amtrak hauled nearly 27.2 million passengers in FY 2009, which was the second highest ridership total since the National Railroad Passenger Corporation started operations in 1971.

"In a difficult year for the economy — particularly in the travel industry — Amtrak ridership has remained strong albeit with some regional variation," said Amtrak President and CEO Joseph H. Boardman. "In particular, reduced business travel along the Northeast Corridor prevented us from reaching the ridership we achieved last year."

The 27,167,014 total passengers for the 12 months ending September 30, 2009, exceeded the FY 2007 total by 5.1%. Total ticket revenue for the FY 2009 reached $1.6 billion.

Boardman said the FY 2009 Amtrak ridership figures are consistent with the annual growth seen since FY 2002; FY 2008 saw a jump due in part to that summer's record-high gasoline prices.

Several short-distance routes did achieve new highs, including the Chicago-St. Louis corridor (up 6%), the Raleigh-Charlotte Piedmont (up 3.8%), the Harrisburg-Philadelphia-New York Keystone Service (up 2.7%), and the Washington-St. Albans Vermonter (up 1.9%). The Pacific Surfliner service saw ridership down 10.6% (and down 4.2% from FY 2007), and the Heartland Flyer (-9.1%), Pere Marquette (-7.6%), and New Haven-Springfield Shuttles (-7.0%) services also saw substantial drops from FY 2008 totals.

Long-distance trains that posted gains in FY 2009 were the Los Angeles-New Orleans Sunset Limited route (up 9.8%), the San Antonio-Chicago Texas Eagle (up 3.6%) and the New York-Miami Silver Meteor (up 3.4%) and Silver Star (up 1.1%). Ridership on the Los Angeles-Seattle Coast Starlight ridership was up 22.3%, driven largely by recovery from a 15-week service disruption in 2008. The rest of the segment experienced declines from last year's figures, though all remained above the levels seen in FY 2007.

For further information, consult Amtrak's FY 2009 Ridership and Revenue Chart.