Amtrak California Continues Posting Ridership Gains
It’s one of the oldest stories on this blog – Amtrak California continues to add riders and set new records, showing strong growth. And that’s not a sudden shift, but a long-term trend showing clear demand for intercity passenger rail.
The most recent numbers are from August 2012, courtesy of the Capitol Corridor Joint Powers Authority:
Capitol Corridor August 2012
– Ridership: 146,232 riders; -5% vs. August 2011; +3 vs. prior YTD
– Revenue: $2,371,167; +3% vs. August 2011; 9% vs. prior YTD
– On-Time Performance: 92%, YTD OTP of 94%
– System Operating Ratio: 50% Fiscal YTD, 51% Calendar YTD
Pacific Surfliners August 2012:
– Ridership: 263,264 passengers; -5% vs. August 2011, and -6% below prior YTD – Ticket Revenue: -4% vs. August 2011 and +6% vs. prior YTD
– On-time performance for August 2012: 67% (YTD FY 2012 on-time performance: 75%)
San Joaquin August 2012:
– Ridership: 102,385 passengers +4% vs. August 2011, and +7% vs. prior YTD – Ticket Revenue only: +5% vs. August 2011, and +9% vs. prior YTD
– On-time performance for August 2012: 84% (YTD FY 2012 on-time performance: 88%)
So while monthly ridership sometimes fluctuates, overall the trends are upward. The Pacific Surfliner had significant track work done in August, which explains their dip in ridership.
A recent article in the North County Times (from San Diego County) implied these gains were new and the result of recent gas price increases.
But the facts tell a different story. For example, the 2011 Annual Performance Report for the Capitol Corridor (which can be downloaded here) shows that ridership has been steadily growing since the late 1990s, with a big jump starting in 2006. New records were set in 2008 during the gas price spike, and the Great Recession meant that 2009 and 2010 were lower than the 2008 numbers. But both those years were higher than every other year prior to 2008, suggesting that most of the ridership growth was retained. And 2011 set a new record. Here’s the numbers, going back to 2005:
2005-06: 1.27 million riders
2006-07: 1.45 million riders
2007-08: 1.69 million riders
2008-09: 1.60 million riders
2009-10: 1.58 million riders
2010-11: 1.71 million riders
Passenger rail ridership growth is clearly a long-term trend. We know that gas prices aren’t coming down anytime soon. And in a digital world, time spent seated at a train with WiFi and an electrical outlet at your set is time much better spent than sitting helplessly behind a wheel.
Amtrak California ridership proves that if you build it, they will ride.