Amtrak Market Share/Ridership Numbers

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Re: Amtrak Market Share/Ridership Numbers

Postby neroden » Tue Oct 13, 2009 11:23 pm

Vincent wrote:Looking around the country, Amtrak has different challenges in different regions. In the Midwest there are numerous bottlenecks around the major population centers that can make the first and last few miles of every trip maddeningly slow. Also, the trackage between major cities is overused and badly in need of modernization. California (and the entire west coast) is challenged by geography. The cost of building HSR through mountainous terrain is huge and technically challenging but necessary to achieve the required speeds for competitive service.


This is rather important: the bottleneck improvements in the Midwest are mostly relatively cheap (until you get to the "new station in downtown Chicago"). The mountain improvements in California are much more expensive relative to the benefits.
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Re: Amtrak Market Share/Ridership Numbers

Postby MudLake » Wed Oct 14, 2009 9:30 pm

neroden wrote:The trains are far too slow and seriously delayed by freight in the Midwest. Remember that Chicago is the nation's freight hub and other Midwestern cities are pretty freight-heavy too. Also remember that Chicago is hugely congested for freight.

In contrast, most of the California passenger corridors are *separate* from the main California freight corridors, or are in broad corridors with lots of tracks. The busiest California corridor -- San Diego-Los Angeles -- has only minimal freight and is owned by passenger operators.

But isn't the LA-San Diego line even slower than most Midwest rail lines?

neroden wrote:Uh, no. Detroit, Toledo, Indianapolis, Cleveland. Trouble is, due to Indiana dragging its feet, the latter three of those have only overnight service. Detroit still generates a *lot* of passengers -- unfortunately a bunch of them want to go east, which they can't. (Detroit-Toledo would be a huge benefit.)

The Midwest plans are very modest but would quite clearly give huge returns. The explosion in ridership on Illinois trains with small increases in frequency, speed, and reliability are a good example. The fact that the same plans would improve the schedule speed of most of the LD trains on the system too is an added bonus.

Amtrak doesn't even operate "corridor" service to Toledo or Cleveland and I'd say it's dubious that they do to Indianapolis as well (only one train per day). From Ms. Bly's posts, I'd venture to guess that Amtrak isn't even counting traffic in the Chicago to Toledo or Cleveland markets when they arrived at their 1% market share figure.
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Re: Amtrak Market Share/Ridership Numbers

Postby walnut » Sun Oct 18, 2009 12:10 am

It is sort of amazing that all of the talk about the NEC misses a very obvious point: namely, that market share for the NEC should include so-called "commuter" trains.

Does the 16% market share only mean Amtrak and does it only mean between certain points? If so, the NEC clearly has a higher share of corridor traffic, because the vast majority of trips are on commuter trains.

Why this matters: the maximum load point on Amtrak NEC trains is between New York and Philadelphia, which is just about 90 miles long. The trip takes a little over an hour, and in the future it will take less than an hour. That is, for all intents and purposes, a commuter trip.

The way to dramatically increase market share in the Northeast is to integrate all train operations into one federation, and manage accordingly. This means that the train schedules, capacities, fares, and stopping patterns are all rationalized not based on the politics of individual state agencies, but rather the actual travel market.

Under that method, you wouldn't necessarily need to drop billions into infrastructure (although New York Penn and approaches is the real bottleneck). But you would need to change the Amtrak and commuter business models.

Rationalize fares at $0.22/mile for coach, and $0.40 for first class.

Divide schedules into:
Local -- mostly all stops on a set route
Zonal Express -- express for a while, then local stops.
Intercity -- no stops outside major cities
(and possibly regional - but not necessarily).

The above schedules would then be synchronized at transfer points, for moving between trains. Thus, you could travel between any two stations in the Northeast in the minimum amount of time by switching between intercity and local trains.

Intercity trains must then run at least every half hour for about 14 to 16 hours per day. With the reduced fares and no stops, ridership will grow rapidly, so trains will need to be long, and possibly double-deck. In other words, the "next generation corridor equipment" is critical, because it supports (or prevents) the new business model.

Now, would the above model satisfy Amtrak's goal to minimize federal subsidies? It depends on how you do your accounting. Are we minimizing subsidy per passenger, or to the corporation? Are we counting local subsidies? The real answer is that we can move many more people by rail than we do today (perhaps at least twice as many) although it will require new equipment, some infrastructure upgrades, and a total rethink of New York City terminal operations. But per passenger subsidies would probably come down, although total subsidy might be slightly higher (if you include the capital). But most of this money will be spent anyway, so the per passenger figure is the "ruling grade" in defining the public interest, in my opinion.

Amtrak comes out way ahead, because they operate the "intercity" trains. Because they will run so fast and because they now do more "work" due to lower fares and coordinated transfers, their overall operating economics may improve. It transitions from a "cream the market" transportation model to a "mass market" model based on larger volume. And it might just scale.
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Re: Amtrak Market Share/Ridership Numbers

Postby Batman2 » Sun Oct 18, 2009 12:54 am

I was looking at the data for the Lincoln Service and I decided I would do a very detailed market share analysis. Here goes:
Monthly ridership for July 2009: 53,827. This means a daily average of 1,736, and an average of 217 riders per train (8 trains per day).

What I want to find is what Amtrak's mode-share for this specific corridor is. Luckily those fellows at the BTS (Bureau of Transportation Statistics) actually keep track of the data I can use to find that. For 2009 (January-July), here's the airline data:

ORD-STL: 258,641, and MDW-STL: 123,675. This gives a Chicago-St. Louis airline travel total for 2009 of 382,316.
Amtrak monthly reports are based on fiscal year (October-October) but we can get the January-July numbers by subtracting off the October-December ridership. We end up with...
Lincoln Service: 296,031

So we end up with the following given that there were 212 days from January-July:
daily airline travel between Chicago and St. Louis: 1,803
daily Lincoln Service ridership: 1,396

The problem is that we don't have exact road and bus data (the bus data might be available, but for some reason I can't seem to get it on BTS.gov). But there are five daily Greyhound buses from Chicago to St. Louis, so I'm guessing there's a capacity of no more than 300 seats for them per day. I'm going to assume they have a load factor of roughly 75% on average, so I'll assume we end up with 225 daily bus passengers.

The roads are also tough, but IDoT comes to the rescue with average daily traffic counts. All we need to do is find the portion of I-55 with the lowest traffic count and voila! We end up with only 18,400 people on I-55 on the section of just west of Pontiac. The truck count lowers this to 12,500, but the average of 1.8 people per car (I think this is the average) raises our people count to 22,500. I'm going to set this as the absolute upper limit on auto travel between Chicago and St. Louis - it's very generous since I'm guessing not every single person using I-55 is actually going from Chicago-St. Louis, but then again, there are other factors involved in all of the modes (airlines have connecting passenger skewing the data, and Amtrak has other intermediate stops. Overall I'll just admit it's tough to control for those variables and responsively throw up my arms and shout "they balance!").

So we end up with the following numbers:
Amtrak: 1,400
Airlines: 1,396
Bus: 225
Auto: 22,500

we end up with about 25,525 total trips per day. Amtrak has roughly 5.8% market share. Now some of you may be saying "but wait a minute! You never controlled for those variables!). But frankly, I think they cancel out. Even if many Lincoln service passengers don't use the length of the corridor, I assume a ton of people flying between Chicago and St. Louis by air are connecting elsewhere, and not everyone on I-55 is just going from Chicago to St. Louis exclusively. So I'd take this data with a grain of salt. If I had to assign a range for mode share it would be 2.5-10% mode-share for Amtrak, depending on the road travel factor.
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Re: Amtrak Market Share/Ridership Numbers

Postby Batman2 » Sun Oct 18, 2009 1:19 am

walnut wrote:It is sort of amazing that all of the talk about the NEC misses a very obvious point: namely, that market share for the NEC should include so-called "commuter" trains.

Does the 16% market share only mean Amtrak and does it only mean between certain points? If so, the NEC clearly has a higher share of corridor traffic, because the vast majority of trips are on commuter trains.

Why this matters: the maximum load point on Amtrak NEC trains is between New York and Philadelphia, which is just about 90 miles long. The trip takes a little over an hour, and in the future it will take less than an hour. That is, for all intents and purposes, a commuter trip.

The way to dramatically increase market share in the Northeast is to integrate all train operations into one federation, and manage accordingly. This means that the train schedules, capacities, fares, and stopping patterns are all rationalized not based on the politics of individual state agencies, but rather the actual travel market.

Under that method, you wouldn't necessarily need to drop billions into infrastructure (although New York Penn and approaches is the real bottleneck). But you would need to change the Amtrak and commuter business models.

Rationalize fares at $0.22/mile for coach, and $0.40 for first class.

Divide schedules into:
Local -- mostly all stops on a set route
Zonal Express -- express for a while, then local stops.
Intercity -- no stops outside major cities
(and possibly regional - but not necessarily).

The above schedules would then be synchronized at transfer points, for moving between trains. Thus, you could travel between any two stations in the Northeast in the minimum amount of time by switching between intercity and local trains.

Intercity trains must then run at least every half hour for about 14 to 16 hours per day. With the reduced fares and no stops, ridership will grow rapidly, so trains will need to be long, and possibly double-deck. In other words, the "next generation corridor equipment" is critical, because it supports (or prevents) the new business model.

Now, would the above model satisfy Amtrak's goal to minimize federal subsidies? It depends on how you do your accounting. Are we minimizing subsidy per passenger, or to the corporation? Are we counting local subsidies? The real answer is that we can move many more people by rail than we do today (perhaps at least twice as many) although it will require new equipment, some infrastructure upgrades, and a total rethink of New York City terminal operations. But per passenger subsidies would probably come down, although total subsidy might be slightly higher (if you include the capital). But most of this money will be spent anyway, so the per passenger figure is the "ruling grade" in defining the public interest, in my opinion.

Amtrak comes out way ahead, because they operate the "intercity" trains. Because they will run so fast and because they now do more "work" due to lower fares and coordinated transfers, their overall operating economics may improve. It transitions from a "cream the market" transportation model to a "mass market" model based on larger volume. And it might just scale.


I like how you're thinking, but I think that if there's any problem it's your assertion that commuter service and Amtrak in the northeast should be rationalized. I actually don't think this is the proper approach, especially given the problems that would be included for local mass transit. Is DC Metrorail considered part of this arrangement? Would the New York Subway be Amtrak-managed? both of these are important considerations.

One big reason for not integrating the service along the NEC spine is that it would lead to long-term problems; capacity concerns are made worse when we talk about increasing intercity service. Case in point: Washington Union Station. Union Station is probably the "lightweight" of the major NEC stations. It only has roughly 10 through tracks, and for NEC service it's essentially a 12-track terminal. Compare that to Penn Station's 21 through tracks, and 30th Street Station's 12 (can someone verify that please?) through tracks. Logistically, your idea calls for a greater emphasis on running intercity trains, but something has to give in the system; Union Station is already near capacity and MARC has to double-stack their trains during most of the day (though arguably this is due to Amtrak not letting them use more platforms, so even though some Amtrak platforms are under-utilized, MARC's are over-utilized). In all honesty, though, Union Station is pushing near its capacity, and it doesn't currently have the space needed for extra Regional trains.

Another difficulty is that equipment options are different throughout the corridor; the tunnels near Penn Station limit double-deck operations, but this isn't a constraint anywhere else in the NEC. Unifying service would likely mean unifying equipment on the NEC, but in many cases this would lead to less capacity.

Further, all of the commuter rail lines are only part of other systems. Would we be unifying Amtrak and, say, NJT's NEC Line, or would we be combining Amtrak and NJT as a whole?

Finally, I think some cooperation already does exist. MARC has an agreement with Amtrak whereby MARC monthly tcket holders can use some Regional trains. I think there are a few similar agreements in place for other commuter rail agencies.

What I think really needs to be done is for there to be a unified online trip planning system. Essentially Google Earth so that you can plan an entire trip from anyplace within a mile or two of a train/subway station to any other point in the NEC system. Essentially do what they did with Metra, CTA and Amtrak with Chicago and Milwaukee in terms of Google Earth.
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Re: Amtrak Market Share/Ridership Numbers

Postby walnut » Sun Oct 18, 2009 11:22 am

Batman2 wrote:I like how you're thinking, but I think that if there's any problem it's your assertion that commuter service and Amtrak in the northeast should be rationalized. I actually don't think this is the proper approach, especially given the problems that would be included for local mass transit. Is DC Metrorail considered part of this arrangement? Would the New York Subway be Amtrak-managed? both of these are important considerations.


No-- local transit is integrated in some sense, but not in the same way that railroads that share track must be integrated.

Batman2 wrote:One big reason for not integrating the service along the NEC spine is that it would lead to long-term problems; capacity concerns are made worse when we talk about increasing intercity service. Case in point: Washington Union Station. Union Station is probably the "lightweight" of the major NEC stations. It only has roughly 10 through tracks, and for NEC service it's essentially a 12-track terminal. Compare that to Penn Station's 21 through tracks, and 30th Street Station's 12 (can someone verify that please?) through tracks. Logistically, your idea calls for a greater emphasis on running intercity trains, but something has to give in the system; Union Station is already near capacity and MARC has to double-stack their trains during most of the day (though arguably this is due to Amtrak not letting them use more platforms, so even though some Amtrak platforms are under-utilized, MARC's are over-utilized). In all honesty, though, Union Station is pushing near its capacity, and it doesn't currently have the space needed for extra Regional trains.


Well, the question of capacity has to be considered with regards to operating plan and management. At the extreme end of efficiency, the Japanese can unload 1,000 passengers from a bullet train, clean the entire train, and reload in something like ten minutes. Boom, it's back out on the road. I don't think we need to approach quite that level of competence to wring way more capacity out of many of our facilities. But I do think that Penn Station is a challenge, mostly because of the design of the platforms and concourse, not the number of tracks. It might even make sense, if the station is rebuilt, to have *fewer* through tracks with better ability to handle crowds. Combined with through-running commuter trains, this might be able to move more people than today.

Batman2 wrote:Another difficulty is that equipment options are different throughout the corridor; the tunnels near Penn Station limit double-deck operations, but this isn't a constraint anywhere else in the NEC. Unifying service would likely mean unifying equipment on the NEC, but in many cases this would lead to less capacity.


We can, in fact, fit multi-level equipment through Penn Station, as NJT does today. However, I agree that it would be better to have a unified, larger clearance envelope. But it isn't necessary. We can assign equipment in a rational way based on needs, and furthermore we can design the system for longer trains to add capacity.

Batman2 wrote:Further, all of the commuter rail lines are only part of other systems. Would we be unifying Amtrak and, say, NJT's NEC Line, or would we be combining Amtrak and NJT as a whole?

Finally, I think some cooperation already does exist. MARC has an agreement with Amtrak whereby MARC monthly tcket holders can use some Regional trains. I think there are a few similar agreements in place for other commuter rail agencies.

What I think really needs to be done is for there to be a unified online trip planning system. Essentially Google Earth so that you can plan an entire trip from anyplace within a mile or two of a train/subway station to any other point in the NEC system. Essentially do what they did with Metra, CTA and Amtrak with Chicago and Milwaukee in terms of Google Earth.


I totally agree about trip planning, and I would add we need unified ticketing. You should be able to get tickets from A to B regardless of the carriers involved. With regards to "unification" I would not suggest that we "unify" the systems. Instead, I recommended a "federation" which is a cooperative arrangements with some legal connections among independent companies (sort of like the old Trailways network). The federation model is in place in some European countries, where intercity, regional, and local services are integrated (shared ticketing, timetables, and marketing) but remain separate companies.
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Re: Amtrak Market Share/Ridership Numbers

Postby walnut » Sun Oct 18, 2009 11:23 am

For data on airline travel between airports:

http://www.transtats.bts.gov/
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Re: Amtrak Market Share/Ridership Numbers

Postby Batman2 » Sun Oct 18, 2009 12:57 pm

walnut wrote:No-- local transit is integrated in some sense, but not in the same way that railroads that share track must be integrated.


Right, but what do we do about commuter rail that connects with the NEC or uses a bit of it, but is primarily off the NEC? One example is the MARC Brunswick Line - it uses DC Union Station and terminal tracks on what is considered part of the NEC (albeit maybe the southernmost mile of it), but it operates out to Martinsburg. Are we talking about combining that line into the system as well?

walnut wrote:Well, the question of capacity has to be considered with regards to operating plan and management. At the extreme end of efficiency, the Japanese can unload 1,000 passengers from a bullet train, clean the entire train, and reload in something like ten minutes. Boom, it's back out on the road. I don't think we need to approach quite that level of competence to wring way more capacity out of many of our facilities. But I do think that Penn Station is a challenge, mostly because of the design of the platforms and concourse, not the number of tracks. It might even make sense, if the station is rebuilt, to have *fewer* through tracks with better ability to handle crowds. Combined with through-running commuter trains, this might be able to move more people than today.


Right, we can increase efficiency at the NEC stations, but ultimately there is a limit to what we can do. DC Union Station, for example, has 5 commuter rail lines terminating there (VRE has two, MARC has 3), as well as a ton of Regional trains using it as a southern terminus as well as one LD train using it as a terminus. Currently the station is creeping up on maximum capacity, Maryland has applied for stimulus funding to build extra storage tracks, and the station generally is very crowded most of the time. If headways for Amtrak's Regionals were decreased to 30 minutes, you would need more platforms and/or a significant increase in the proportion of Regional trains that would continue south from Union Station (which raises equipment issues due to the longer routing).

walnut wrote:We can, in fact, fit multi-level equipment through Penn Station, as NJT does today. However, I agree that it would be better to have a unified, larger clearance envelope. But it isn't necessary. We can assign equipment in a rational way based on needs, and furthermore we can design the system for longer trains to add capacity.


They can't fit Superliners or full bi-level cars through. Gallery cars may be technically bi-level, but are somewhat limited when we try to use them for long-distance routes, due to the upper level being pretty cramped.

walnut wrote:I totally agree about trip planning, and I would add we need unified ticketing. You should be able to get tickets from A to B regardless of the carriers involved. With regards to "unification" I would not suggest that we "unify" the systems. Instead, I recommended a "federation" which is a cooperative arrangements with some legal connections among independent companies (sort of like the old Trailways network). The federation model is in place in some European countries, where intercity, regional, and local services are integrated (shared ticketing, timetables, and marketing) but remain separate companies.


I don't think we'll see a completely unified fare system any time soon. The more likely scenario is that a "unified" ticket would be available for purchase on a round-trip only basis, i.e. you buy a ticket from A to B online for a round-trip and on the train show that ticket to conductors. It would be a limited option and would most likely have at least some extra fee attached. I just don't see all of the agencies coming together and agreeing to a universal fare.
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Re: Amtrak Market Share/Ridership Numbers

Postby walnut » Sun Oct 18, 2009 8:50 pm

Batman2 wrote:I don't think we'll see a completely unified fare system any time soon. The more likely scenario is that a "unified" ticket would be available for purchase on a round-trip only basis, i.e. you buy a ticket from A to B online for a round-trip and on the train show that ticket to conductors. It would be a limited option and would most likely have at least some extra fee attached. I just don't see all of the agencies coming together and agreeing to a universal fare.


You may be right in that government mostly acts out of crisis, not opportunity. But the fact is that all these railroads are essentially just agencies of government at various levels. According to the 9/11 Commission, an inability to cooperate and share data was part of what led to that day. It is all too common for the public interest to be overlooked due to an illogical org chart.

With that said, Amtrak's recent PRIAA report for Cornwells Heights service notes that Amtrak's withdrawal of service from that station was accompanied by a proportional increase in SEPTA R7 ridership to Trenton, suggesting that part of Amtrak's Clockers traffic may have shifted to SEPTA/NJT. This just states the case more plainly -- rail customers are customers of the corridor, not the particular railroad. Amtrak maintains that it is not very interested in "commuter" traffic, because of its intercity mission and the inherently poor economics (such as oversupply of "wasted" capacity during off-peak periods). Yet, again, these are all just government railroads, operating a set amount of service. If they could simply cooperate on a common method for allocating resources with the passengers' needs as the primary concern, then service would greatly improve and ridership would spike. Do they have all the resources they need? Perhaps not. But they would actually stand a better chance of getting those resources by acting in concert instead of living in their various silos.
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Re: Amtrak Market Share/Ridership Numbers

Postby Batman2 » Tue Oct 20, 2009 5:52 pm

walnut wrote:With that said, Amtrak's recent PRIAA report for Cornwells Heights service notes that Amtrak's withdrawal of service from that station was accompanied by a proportional increase in SEPTA R7 ridership to Trenton, suggesting that part of Amtrak's Clockers traffic may have shifted to SEPTA/NJT. This just states the case more plainly -- rail customers are customers of the corridor, not the particular railroad.


While this theory is generally true, there are a number of flaws around the edges of it. The first is that passengers often choose service based on service level and price as well as availability. While commuter rail and Amtrak may have been interchangeable for that route, even assuming MARC extends to Newark, DE as it plans to by 2015, I doubt many passengers would just switch from using Amtrak for Washington DC-Philadelphia trips over to MARC+SEPTA.

walnut wrote:Amtrak maintains that it is not very interested in "commuter" traffic, because of its intercity mission and the inherently poor economics (such as oversupply of "wasted" capacity during off-peak periods). Yet, again, these are all just government railroads, operating a set amount of service. If they could simply cooperate on a common method for allocating resources with the passengers' needs as the primary concern, then service would greatly improve and ridership would spike. Do they have all the resources they need? Perhaps not. But they would actually stand a better chance of getting those resources by acting in concert instead of living in their various silos.


I definitely agree that cooperation is needed, but in defense of the status quo, much of the disagreement is over the terms of cooperation. One example of this is the question of who is going to adapt to who. Changing schedules is expensive not only directly, but also because ridership tends to decline for short periods as passengers re-orient to the new schedules. It would be infeasible for both agencies involved to significantly change their schedules, but at the same time there's disagreement over who bears the costs of the changes and how they'd be compensated.

Other problems are more complex - there's a long history of pent-up anger of perceived "abuses" which always seem to come up in these discussions ("they did...to us back in...and it was mean. Don't Trust Them!"). Sometimes it has to do with even the little things like preferential signaling, or bigger things like how MARC doesn't appreciate Amtrak only letting them use 3 or 4 platforms even though Amtrak could get by even letting MARC use around 6. Animosity coming into the room doesn't tend to help that much when the talking is going on.

Finally, the different priorities complicate the areas where the operators do have converging priorities. Just because SEPTA, NJT, and Amtrak can agree on one thing, doesn't mean they'll agree about a bunch of other things.
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Re: Amtrak Market Share/Ridership Numbers

Postby jstolberg » Sat Oct 24, 2009 8:02 pm

I thought I'd graph the ridership on Amtrak's top routes for some perspective.

Starting with the Northeast Corridor
Image

Then the next 5 most popular corridors
Image

And finally, the 5 most popular long distance trains
Image
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Re: Amtrak Market Share/Ridership Numbers

Postby Batman2 » Sat Oct 24, 2009 9:05 pm

jstolberg wrote:I thought I'd graph the ridership on Amtrak's top routes for some perspective.

Starting with the Northeast Corridor
Image

Then the next 5 most popular corridors
Image

And finally, the 5 most popular long distance trains
Image


The 2009 numbers are relative and/or adjusted, right? Also, what's the going explanation for the Coast Starlight having a ridership spike this year?
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Re: Amtrak Market Share/Ridership Numbers

Postby neroden » Sat Oct 24, 2009 9:22 pm

I think those graphs show, yet again, that "quality pays off".

The spike in the Coast Starlight is probably due to (1) restoring fairly reliable, decent-speed running, and (2) recovering from the severing of the route last year. It would be more accurate to say that something was *suppressing* ridership from 2005-2008, and it's easy enough to point to a pile of now-gone problems which would do so.

The corridor numbers show what an opportunity for expansion there is in the Midwest.....
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Re: Amtrak Market Share/Ridership Numbers

Postby jp1822 » Sat Oct 24, 2009 10:17 pm

neroden wrote:I think those graphs show, yet again, that "quality pays off".

The spike in the Coast Starlight is probably due to (1) restoring fairly reliable, decent-speed running, and (2) recovering from the severing of the route last year. It would be more accurate to say that something was *suppressing* ridership from 2005-2008, and it's easy enough to point to a pile of now-gone problems which would do so.

The corridor numbers show what an opportunity for expansion there is in the Midwest.....


I couldn't agree more when it comes to the Coast Starlight in the above explanation. This train was in the "gutter" as far as I was concerned a few years ago ranging from OTP, equipment variability (i.e. lack of Pacific Parlor Car), truncations, poor onboard service in general. My trip in 2005 compared to my trip in 2009 was like night and day to a large part. All was for the better of course. Ironically, I was onboard the re-launched Empire Builder in the first year it debuted. And despite some other negative comments on the Empire Builder in terms of its re-launch recently, I will say that my recent trip in 2009 was nearly the same - very positive. The Empire Builder re-launch largely points to the fact that Amtrak needs to sustain a "re-launch" of such a train. This may be partially reflective of the slight downturn. Tour companies are going to book their clients on a service that is consistent and reliable. Amtrak's run into issues with this since the 1990s, and perhaps again recently with the Empire Builder due to not “sustaining the EB re-launch.” Many have flocked to VIA Rail Canada instead - largely the Canadian. However, VIA's Canadian has had its share of problems in the past two years alone (hence the new schedule to try and correct this).

I would say that Amtrak needs to make sure that if it "re-launches a train" that it sustains service on the re-launched train. That being said, Amtrak is due to re-launch another long distance train - of some sort. The only thing I could see in terms of re-launching a single level LD train is a new "Chicago-East Coast train" or enhancing the Lake Shore - largely with schedule and food service. This actually might be doable since I think this train’s low on both of these qualities. But single level LD lack the equivalent of a Superliner Sightseer Lounge. Perhaps not needed on the Silver Service train (i.e. you seen one pine tree you've seen them all), but definitely worth consideration for the Crescent, Lake Shore, or a new Chicago-East Coast Train (i.e. reincarnated Broadway Limited). Otherwise, perhaps it is the Southwest Chief or CA Zephyr. The later would be great, but has its reliability improved as much as say the Coast Starlight under UP dispatching.

Corridor trains are suffering from the recession, especially the NEC. Business travel is down during this recession. The Pacific Surfliner enjoyed great highs and ultimately with the recession, it will be hit more dramatically with a descent ridership decline. The Keystone corridor is piggybacking off the discontinued Clocker service still (that’s my opinion at least). Lot of people have turned to the Keystones for a monthly pass to get from Philly and NYC (and intermediate points). It’s also the cheapest train on the corridor between these two points.

All appears interesting, at best.
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Re: Amtrak Market Share/Ridership Numbers

Postby David Benton » Sat Oct 24, 2009 10:32 pm

the starlight was out for a good part of last year with the huge mudslide .
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David Benton
 
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