Heartland Flyer loses more than $43 per rider in 2012, report finds

Despite losing $2.7 million last year, the Heartland Flyer, which connects Oklahoma City to Fort Worth, Texas, performs better than many Amtrak routes connecting major cities.
by Jennifer Palmer Published: March 2, 2013
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Despite losing more than $43 per rider in 2012, Amtrak's Heartland Flyer route, which connects Oklahoma City to Fort Worth, Texas, fared well compared to corridors in other states, according to a report analyzing Amtrak service in the nation's 100 largest metropolitan areas issued Friday by The Brookings Institution.

The Oklahoma City metro area, which includes train stations in Oklahoma City, Norman and Purcell, carried 76,556 riders last year — 0.1 percent of Amtrak passengers nationwide, the report found.

Ridership on the 206-mile Heartland Flyer ranked 41st among Amtrak's routes. The train lost $2.7 million last year.

However, only four routes nationwide operated in the black, and most lost significantly more than the Heartland Flyer, the report shows. For instance, the 2,438-mile California Zephyr, which connects Chicago to San Francisco, cost $112.5 million to operate and lost $62.6 million last year.

Joseph Kane, policy research assistant at the Brookings Institution, said the report reflects a stark difference between Amtrak routes under 400 miles and longer routes like the California Zephyr.

“For short-distance routes, I think it's clear there is a demand for this service, and they are increasing ridership,” he said. Amtrak statistics show ridership in Oklahoma, which includes all stations, increased 4.1 percent in 2012 compared to 2011.


by Jennifer Palmer
Investigative Reporter
Jennifer Palmer joined The Oklahoman staff in 2008 and, after five years on the business desk, is now digging deeper through investigative work. She's been recognized with awards in public service reporting and personal column writing. Prior to...
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To read the report

Go to www.brookings.edu/research/reports/2013/03/01-passenger-rail-puentes-tomer

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