[CORRECTION: THE CHART IN THIS POST ORIGINALLY REPORTED INCORRECT RIDERSHIP AND REVENUE FOR KEYSTONE SERVICE AND SPRINGFIELD-NEW HAVEN SHUTTLES. THE CHART HAS BEEN UPDATED.]
Amtrak carried a record 28.7m passengers and took in $1.7B in revenue in FY 2010. [For a North American market-share comparison, Amtrak’s passenger volume falls between Alaska Airlines (15m) and Air Canada (30m)]. Though most media outlets have reported this as significant year-on-year growth for Amtrak (up 5.7% from FY 2009), it is more accurate to view these statistics as a successful recovery to pre-recession levels. After all, 2010 ridership is only.015% higher than 2008, or 450 additional annual passengers.
Furthermore, system-wide statistics obscure both important regional trends and homogenize an Amtrak system that offers widely varying levels of service quality. Far more interesting are the train-by-train breakdowns listed in the report.
Mirroring some trends in the broader economy but bucking others, ridership fell in Western Michigan (Pere Marquette), Indiana (Cardinal), and California (Capitol Corridor), but grew substantially in Eastern Michigan (which introduced longer trains), the Pacific Northwest (Cascades), the Northeast Corridor, and North Carolina (Piedmont, which added a second daily train). Below is a chart that maps annual passengers, annual growth, and revenue per passenger.
The report affirms that our trains perform very well relative to the Amtrak system as a whole. Cascades service benefited greatly from the additional Vancouver BC service, with ridership up 13% from 2009 and 10% from 2008. The Empire Builder and the Coast Starlight, meanwhile, have the highest ridership among long-distance trains.