March was another record-breaking month for Amtrak, with 2.8 million riders, representing a 1.9% increase over ridership from March 2012. Last month set the record for highest ridership in the history of Amtrak. Overall, 26 of Amtrak’s 46 routes have experienced ridership increases in the last 6 months and Amtrak is hoping that fiscal year 2013 will break last year’s record high of 31.2 billion riders.
Record ridership levels has been recurring trend, despite Amtrak’s recent challenges. Last fall, Superstorm Sandy put a major dent in ridership on the East Coast, which is Amtrak’s biggest market. While ridership on those routes is still recovering, Amtrak has still been setting ridership records every month since October. And even with growing competition from inter-city bus services, such as Megabus and Bolt Bus, demand for rail travel continues to increase.
Amtrak suspects that ridership will continue on this upward trend as people turn to the convenience of rail travel. Highway congestion and rising gas prices have made long-distance drives a headache and the cost and hassle of air travel has pushed travelers to look for other modes of transportation. And although Amtrak has gotten some slack for being subsidized by the government, they are hoping that continued growth and impressive ridership numbers will solidify the nation’s need for quality inter-city rail service.