Amtrak ridership hits record high amid GOP attacks

Associated Press Published: October 10, 2012
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WASHINGTON (AP) — Amtrak trains carried 31.2 million passengers in the fiscal year ending in September, the highest annual ridership since the railroad was formed in 1971, the nation's intercity passenger railroad said Wednesday.

Ridership grew 3.5 percent over the past 12 months compared with the previous budget year, and ticket revenue jumped 6.8 percent to a best-ever $2.02 billion, Amtrak said. Ridership has increased every year but one over the past decade, and is up almost 50 percent from 2000.

"People are riding Amtrak trains in record numbers across the country because there is an undeniable demand to travel by rail," Amtrak President and CEO Joe Boardman said in a statement. "Ridership will continue to grow because of key investments made by Amtrak and our federal and state partners to improve on-time performance, reliability, capacity and train speeds."

At the same time ridership has been increasing, Republicans have stepped up their campaign to end federal subsidies to Amtrak. Rep. John Mica, R-Fla., chairman of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, has accused Amtrak of "Soviet-style" inefficiency and held several hearings devoted to criticism of the railroad.

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