October 16, 2013
Amtrak: Not a Money Pit, After All (ELEANOR RANDOLPH, 10/16/13, NY Times)
Posted by Orrin Judd at October 16, 2013 10:06 AM[A]mtrak had one of its best years ever. Amtrak officers boasted this week about carrying 31.6 million passengers this year, up from 31.2 million last year. And ridership increased even in the Northeast Corridor where Sandy did her worst. As a result, the railroad will ask for less federal help. That old story about how Amtrak is a transportation money pit has, once again, been proven false.Tony Coscia, chairman of the Amtrak board of directors, said in a telephone interview Tuesday that he sees three main reasons why Amtrak is gaining financial strength and more customers. [...]The company seems to be benefiting from the sorry state of other forms of travel in the U.S. It only takes so many traffic jams and hours in a musty airport lounge before a wise passenger decides that a train makes more sense.The third reason is perhaps most promising. Mr. Coscia believes that young urbanites have finally discovered the railroads. The average age of passengers is getting younger, he said, and with people moving back into the cities, many of them are becoming accustomed to the joys of mass transit, especially from one city to another. Also, driving is time spent away from the computer, the cell phone, the afternoon nap. Why not let the conductor take over?