April 9, 2013

Ridership up on Downeaster route

The Associated Press

Ridership on Amtrak's Boston-to-Maine passenger train continues to rise.

Amtrak announced Tuesday that 256,000 passengers rode the Downeaster in the first six months of the current fiscal year, from October through March. That's up nearly 5 percent over the same period last year.

Amtrak says the Downeaster had the 11th biggest percentage increase for the period among its 45 routes nationwide.

Ridership on all Amtrak trains increased about 1 percent for the first half of the 2013-14 fiscal year, with March setting a record for the single best month ever.

Ridership grew despite disruptions from weather including superstorm Sandy, Amtrak said.

The railroad said October, December and January also set individual monthly records. Amtrak expects to end the fiscal year at or above last year's record of 31.2 million passengers.

"The continued ridership growth on routes across the country reinforces the need for dedicated, multi-year federal operating and capital funding to support existing intercity passenger rail services and the development of new ones," Amtrak President and CEO Joe Boardman said.

Routes with the most ridership growth in the October-to-March period included the Palmetto, which connects New York City and Georgia, up 10.5 percent, and the Coast Starlight, which operates between Los Angeles and Seattle, up 10 percent.

Amtrak said ridership was up 9.8 percent on the Illini/Saluki, which operates between Chicago and New Orleans; 8.9 percent on the San Joaquin in California, 8.6 percent on the Piedmont in North Carolina and 8.2 percent on the Wolverine route in Michigan.

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