Report: Amtrak is really two systems, one efficient -- the other, not so much

Thumbnail image for amtrak engine closerA new Brookings report on Amtrak makes an important distinction on passenger rail service: distance matters. From the report:

The 26 routes traveling less than 400 miles make up the operationally efficient portion of the network. It includes the two most popular Northeast Corridor routes, the Acela and Northeast Regional, which operate between Boston and Washington D.C., including spurs into Virginia and western Massachusetts. The positive operating balance from these two routes--which currently do not receive direct state operating subsidies--were enough to offset the net operating costs of the other 24 short- distance routes. Those other sub-400 mile routes typically enjoy direct state support (even before the federal PRIIA legislation) and always serve at least one large metropolitan area. In total, these 26 corridors carried 83 percent of all system riders in 2012.

In fact, when taken all together Amtrak routes of 400 miles or less actually had a positive operating balance in 2011. The over-400 mile routes were in the red.

That said, some of the short distance routes don't do too well financially. And the Empire Service -- which runs between Albany and NYC -- is one of them. That line -- which doesn't get state support (it will starting later this year) -- had a negative operating balance of $31 million in 2011, almost half the cost of the service. But the Empire Service was the 7th most popular line in terms of ridership in fiscal year 2012, at 1.06 million riders. [TU] [AOA]

The Brookings report also includes ridership numbers by metro area, not just by station. And it reports riders in Albany-Schenectady-Troy metro area to 862,737 in 2012 -- up 39 percent from 1997.

Amtrak had 31.2 million passengers in fiscal year 2012. The Brookings report notes the rail service is the fastest-growing domestic transportation mode over the last 15 years.

Earlier on AOA: An updated vision for high-speed rail

Comments

Soooo why isnt the empire service profitable? Because of delays or track improvements or something?

Every time I take the Empire Service there seems to be atleast a half hour delay. I think more people would take it more often it had a better ontime percentage.

Every time I take the Empire Service there seems to be atleast a half hour delay.
Amtrak is so slow because they yield to freight trains . Nowhere in the world passenger trains have to wait for cargo.

Say Something!

We'd really like you to take part in the conversation here at All Over Albany. But we do have a few rules here. Don't worry, they're easy. The first: be kind. The second: treat everyone else with the same respect you'd like to see in return. Cool? Great, post away. Comments are moderated so it might take a little while for your comment to show up. Thanks for being patient.

The Scoop

Ever wish you had a smart, savvy friend with the inside line on what's happening around the Capital Region? You know, the kind of stuff that makes your life just a little bit better? Yeah, we do, too. That's why we created All Over Albany. Find out more.

Recently on All Over Albany

Albany police planning to start using body cameras this summer

The Albany Police Department has a plan to start deploying body cameras to all its officers this July. The details of the rollout of the... (more)

Brown's Summer Sessions 2017

Brown's Brewing has started its own outdoor concert series for this summer called Brown's Summer Sessions. The six Thursday evening shows are set to be... (more)

In the hole

Prompted by recent high-profile stories of restaurants being shut for back taxes, Steve Barnes looked into how restaurants find themselves in such a situation --... (more)

What's up in the Neighborhood

Among the topics in this most recent spin around the Capital Region's online neighborhood: scapegoats and change, discovering fierceness, chutzpah, mountain biking, Lake Bonita, Philip... (more)

The plan to connect two major bike paths at the Albany waterfront

Two major bike paths -- the Mohawk-Hudson Hike-Bike Trail and the Helderberg Hudson Rail Trail -- run into Albany's South End. But they don't connect.... (more)

Recent Comments

I've found that anecdotes from neighbors, friends, or internet "strangers" can only take you so far. If you haven't already, I strongly recommend you get out there and visit these schools during the school year, during the school day to get a feel for things. In the last few months, my wife and I have made a series of visits to our local elementary, middle + high-school. During those visits, we had the chance to talk to multiple teachers and see the kids "in action". It was very VERY telling in a lot of ways - both good and bad.

Drawing: American Music Festival + Peck's Arcade

...has 76 comments, most recently from Tess

The plan to connect two major bike paths at the Albany waterfront

...has 8 comments, most recently from Ryan H

Albany talking trash over the next month

...has 7 comments, most recently from Mike

The ethics of dropping your dog's poop in a neighbor's garbage can

...has 36 comments, most recently from -S

Experiences to share about Albany schools?

...has 35 comments, most recently from Gary