Northeast Drives An Amtrak Ridership Record

A Washington-bound Acela Express train in Jamaica Plain (Night Owl City/Flickr)

A Washington-bound Acela Express train in Jamaica Plain (Night Owl City/Flickr)

Even though you can get to New York on a $15 bus ticket, more and more people are opting to take the train.

More than 10 million people rode the Washington-New York-Boston rails in the fiscal year ending Sept. 30, a 4.3 percent increase over the year before, according to new data from the company. That amounts to almost $900 million in ticket revenue.

“People are now starting to get back to traveling again after the heart of the recession hit about a year ago,” said Cliff Cole, an Amtrak spokesman. (Last year, ridership dropped for the first time since 2006.)

The company says the growth in the Northeast Corridor drove a nationwide ridership record. “It’s one of our biggest moneymakers,” Cole told me.

Why are more people taking the train when the bus is cheap? Gas prices are still high. Road congestion is still exhausting. Air travel is still unpleasant.

Amtrak tickets from Boston to New York run $50 to $200, depending on time of day and amenities. The fast, business-oriented Acela Express — which saw 7 percent growth last fiscal year — offers free Wi-Fi. (So do some bus services, such as the Greyhound-operated BoltBus, but the connections are spotty in my experience.)

Since fiscal year 2000, Northeast ridership is up 37 percent. Now we have to wait about 30 years for super-high-speed trains that can do Boston-New York in 84 minutes. That would beat the pants off a bus ride, which can take five hours on a Friday night.

One thought on “Northeast Drives An Amtrak Ridership Record

  1. JoLee Montgomery

    I travel between Boston and New York at least 3 times per week and have been doing so for the past 10 years. At first, it was air travel but the time kept getting longer and longer due to security checks, traffic, etc. The planes had become dirty with few amentities and by the time I reached my office in lower Manhattan I was wiped. Then I tried Acela about 3 years ago at the advice of a freind. Forget the bus, it takes way too long and is like traveling in trailer park heaven. Acela is wonderful! It’s exceptionally well run, fast, on time, clean and I can work and have something to eat (food is great) and arrive in New York refreshed. The best part is, I get to my office in often less time than it took me to fly! The staff on Acela are terrific, knowlegable and friendly. You would have to pry me out of my railroad seat to get me to fly again. It only seems to get better with time. My next pleasure trip to see my sister in Maine will be by train, I am buying a ticket on the Amtrak Downeaster, I’ve heard good things about it.

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