May 20, 2011- High fuel costs and gas hovering at the $4 per gallon mark are causing this summer to be looking very expensive for air travel as some vacationer’s are trying an alternative form of transportation, the train.
Amtrak ridership has increased for 18 consecutive months and is on pace to set annual records. Their ridership increased by close to 10% this April, compared to April 2010 and totaled 2.7 million. An Amtrak spokesman said that the biggest reason for the increase most likely was due to the increased prices of gas plus traveling on Amtrak eliminates a lot of hassles for many travelers.
This month Amtrak celebrated their 40th anniversary of railing service in the U.S. and has set annual records for ridership for seven of the past eight years. In 2000 their annual ridership was 21 million and a decade later in 2010 they had nearly 29 million, a 36% increase.
The increase is not just due to business travelers but also tourists. Their New York to Miami route, the Silver Star was up 16% in the month of April this year over last year’s April the largest of any increases in a long distance route.
Even with the increases the number of train travelers is far below the number of air passengers. Over 200 million air travelers are expected this summer season and that amounts to over seven times the number of train passenger for the entire year of 2010. Even though the advantage of air travel remains speed the hassles caused by long lines and security checks have helped to increase ridership on trains.