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+ For Amtrak’s press release, route-by-route ridership data, and 21st century ridership trendline, CLICK HERE
Lake Shore Limited (daily Chicago – Toledo – Cleveland – New York/Boston) up 4.3 percent to 403,700 rides*
Cardinal (thrice-weekly Chicago – Cincinnati – Washington DC – New York) up 4.9 percent to more than 116,373 rides**
Capitol Limited (daily Chicago – Toledo – Cleveland – Washington DC) up 0.1 percent to 226,884 rides***
* The Lake Shore Limited‘s Fiscal Year 2012 record tally of 403,700 rides is the fourth-highest ridership experienced by any single daily round-trip train in Amtrak’s nationwide system (each daily round trip has a train traveling in each direction — ie: eastbound and westbound — for a total of two trains per day). This is also the highest one-year ridership for this train which has been in continuous operation for 37 years by Amtrak since Ohio’s Congressional delegation urged that the Lake Shore Limited be started as Amtrak’s “Experimental Route for 1975.” Its 2012 ridership breaks Amtrak’s previous record for this train service of 387,986, set in 1986. As recently as FY2000, ridership was 303,087 due to reliability and service quality issues. Use of the Lake Shore Limited has since grown by 33 percent!
All Aboard Ohio — namely Al Mladineo, Jim Stevenson, Bill Hutchison and others — worked closely with the Ohio Congressional delegation and Amtrak back in 1975 to bring the Lake Shore service to Ohio. We applaud Amtrak and members of Congress from both parties who are from communities along this route. They supported this train service that has produced steady ridership, but has been experiencing tremendous growth in popularity in the 21st century.
With rising costs and stresses associated with driving and flying, we urge all stakeholders to pursue adding more trains along this route so that Ohioans served by the Lake Shore‘s stations in Bryan, Toledo, Sandusky, Elyria and Cleveland can enjoy more conveniently scheduled arrivals and departures. If that happens, All Aboard Ohio is certain that more Ohioans will include Amtrak in their travel plans.
** The same goes for the Cardinal route through Cincinnati and along the cross-river towns of Kentucky and West Virginia like Maysville, South Portsmouth, Ashland and Huntington. Ridership grew strongly on this route in 2012, even though it is served by only three trains per week in each direction. Amtrak has projected that ridership would nearly double on this route if it were able to offer daily service. However, more frequent service is hampered by freight train congestion in Virginia, between Clifton Forge and Charlottesville. The provision of one or more long passing sidings along this hilly stretch of railroad may be sufficient to relieve rail traffic congestion and provide daily passenger service on this route for the first time since 1981. All Aboard Ohio will continue to push for this strategic investment.
*** The Capitol Limited‘s ridership growth is limited in large part by the unchanging number of cars in its train despite its frequent sold-out conditions. Amtrak was able to add cars to lengthen Ohio’s other two trains, but not the Capitol which uses double-deck Superliner cars. All Aboard Ohio is hopeful that as bilevel cars are built and delivered for short-distance trains, especially in California, it may free up some cars for long-distance, frequently sold-out trains like the Capitol.