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November 10, 2008
TRAIN RIDERSHIP IN CALIFORNIA HITS ALL-TIME HIGH
Sacramento - Californians are leaving their cars, SUVs, vans, and trucks at home and riding trains instead in unprecedented numbers. Today, Caltrans and Amtrak reported a record-setting 5.5 million passengers rode California's state-supported intercity passenger trains in federal fiscal year 2008.
"Intercity rail travel provides Californians a welcome alternative to a dependence on gas prices, relieves congested freeways, and improves our air quality in comparison to auto and air travel," said Caltrans Director Will Kempton.
Caltrans provides about $80 million annually to Amtrak to operate three routes for the state, including the Pacific Surfliner (San Diego to San Luis Obispo), which is the second busiest line in the nation. In 2007-08, the Pacific Surliner carried more than 2.89 million passengers, a seven percent increase from the preceding year.
In Northern California, Capitol Corridor (Auburn to San Jose) trains, carried 1.69 million riders, an impressive 16.8 percent jump from the previous 12 months. Meanwhile nearly one million passengers (949,611) rode the San Joaquins service (Bakersfield to Sacramento/Oakland). This past July, ridership shot up a whopping 32 percent over July 2007, rising above 100,000 for the first time. The Capitol Corridor and the San Joaquins ranked as the nation's third busiest and sixth busiest lines respectively.
Amtrak ridership in federal fiscal year 2008 increased to 28,716,407, marking the sixth straight year of gains and setting a record for the most passengers using Amtrak trains since the National Railroad Passenger Corporation started operations in 1971. Amtrak California Thruway motor coaches provide service to more than 175 additional destinations throughout California from the three state-supported routes.
"The Governor's Proposition 1B funding, plus $190 million included in the High Speed Rail bond passed on November 4, will give California a competitive edge seeking federal matching funds. California's intercity rail program is the model for the nation," said Eugene K. Skoropowski, the Managing Director of the Capitol Corridor Joint Powers Authority.
Proposition 1B, the transportation bond championed by Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger and approved by voters in 2006, provides Caltrans $400 million to improve California's intercity rail service, including $125 million to purchase more rail cars and locomotives.
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