Amtrak marks record performance in spite of gas prices

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WASHINGTON — Dire predictions that falling gas prices might hurt Amtrak’s patronage and pricing failed to materialize as the company’s fiscal year drew to a close on Sept. 30, 2016. Yet other trends continue to impact the passenger railroad as President and CEO Wick Moorman settles into his new job.

Ridership rose to a record 31.2 million passengers while generating $2.1 billion of ticket revenue — both slightly ahead of last year’s numbers. But Amtrak had originally based its expense budget on almost 31.8 million riders and $2.3 billion in ticket sales. In December 2015, with early returns showing weakness, management began cutting expenses based on revised forecasts that dropped passenger counts by 1.2 million and receipts by $167 million.

Several Northeast Regional frequencies were cut (two were eliminated by dropping the New York-Savannah, Ga., Palmetto’s “receive only” southbound and “discharge only” northbound boarding restrictions), job vacancies weren’t filled, and long-distance dining car patrons faced the same menu on every train all summer. As it turned out, the forecast was too pessimistic, though the original budget had been too optimistic.

See more detail and a breakdown by highlights of Amtrak's record year by reading the "Passenger" column in the January 2017 issue of Trains which is available on newsstands Dec. 13.

NEWSWIRETrains News Wire

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