Amtrak Thursday said it expects record ridership in fiscal year 2010, noting that with its first two fiscal quarters completed, rail ridership of 13.6 million was up 4.3% compared with the first half of FY09. Amtrak ridership set a record in fiscal year 2008 of 28.7 million.
The company said March ridership was strong, up 13.5% systemwide, up 14.3% on Acela high speed service, and up 12.9% on its Northeast Regional trains.
Ridership on long-distance trains increased by 16% in March and is up 5.2% for the first two quarters of FY10. Ridership on all short-distance routes also increased, with many routes notching double-digit gains.
“Americans are beginning to travel again and are choosing Amtrak as an affordable and efficient way to move around the country,” said President and CEO Joseph Boardman, noting a slowly improving economy and continued high fuel prices as factors in Amtrak ridership growth.
Boardman said the ridership growth demonstrated the presentand growing need for the carrier to replace, expand, and modernize its fleet of aging locomotives and passenger rail cars, calling it Amtrak’s “most urgent unfunded need.” Amtrak has requested $446 million from Congress to fund its Fleet Acquisition Program.