Rail Ridership Is Up And Is Staying Up
Many media reports over the past six months have touted Amtrak’s increasing ridership — up 15% for 2008 over the previous year. Most also cited the soaring price of gasoline as a major factor for that increase.
But now that the price of gas has fallen, the usual nay-sayers are telling us that the rail boom is over … that people will be getting off the trains and climbing back into their cars.
Really? That’s not what the latest numbers say. As just one example, Amtrak’s Silver Star, which runs daily between Miami and New York City via Tampa, was up 4 percent in the month of December … and another 18 percent in January.
The flip side to all this is that increased demand means a corresponding increase in the operating costs for these commuter lines. And for Amtrak, too. Since necessarily (and properly) all passengers rail systems are subsidized by government – local, state and federal – those increased costs are just adding to budget deficits raising their ugly heads at almost every level.