California Department of Transportation
 

California Department of Transportation

Date: December 24, 2014
District: Headquarters
Contact:  Tamie McGowen
Phone:  (916) 657-5060

Despite Falling Gas Prices, Amtrak California Sets Ridership Records

SACRAMENTO – Over one of the busiest travel period of the year, Californians rode trains in unprecedented numbers this Thanksgiving, despite gas prices dipping to their lowest level in six years.

November ridership and revenue reports for Amtrak California are in and boast impressive gains. The Pacific Surfliner, the 2nd busiest intercity rail corridor in the nation, set records for the highest ridership and revenue in over a decade. The San Joaquin, the 5th busiest corridor in the nation that travels from both Sacramento and San Francisco to Bakersfield, had the second highest ridership and revenue in over a decade.

“Intercity passenger rail is an important component of a sustainable, multimodal transportation system for today and the future,” said Caltrans Director Malcolm Dougherty. “More and more Californians are increasingly seeing train travel as a smart option.”

Traditionally, declining gas prices have had a negative impact on ridership. Not this year. Gas prices for the Thanksgiving holiday this year were just over $3.00 a gallon, down nearly 15% from last year, but ridership and revenue were up on all Amtrak California routes.

Amtrak Thanksgiving Period Ridership, 2014 vs 2013

(Tuesday through Sunday)

Route

Day

2014

2013

% Chg.

Pacific Surfliner

Tue

9,748

8,689

+12.2

Wed

13,395

12,474

+7.4

Thu

8,984

7,862

+14.3

Fri

9,081

7,090

+28.1

Sat

8,941

7,868

+13.6

Sun

11,464

11,311

+1.4

Tue-Sun

61,613

55,294

+11.4

Route

Day

2014

2013

% Chg.

San Joaquin

Tue

4,975

4,894

+1.7

Wed

7,445

6,914

+7.7

Thu

3,657

3,655

+0.1

Fri

4,371

4,271

+2.3

Sat

5,006

4,804

+4.2

Sun

7,087

6,762

+4.8

Tue-Sun

32,541

31,300

+4.0

Social media reports attribute the increased holiday ridership to a trend toward leisurely travel. Sophisticated and tech savvy travelers are taking advantage of the free Wi-Fi on the trains and spending their travel time either catching up on work or relaxing with their electronic devices and enjoying beautiful views. The traveling public may also be starting to recognize the environmental benefit to train travel. According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, per passenger mile, rail generates about half the carbon dioxide emission of an automobile.

With Christmas and New Years fast approaching, now is the time to book your trip so you can enjoy more leisurely holiday travel. Check up to two bags and carry on up to two additional bags for free, which provides extra space for holiday cheer.

About Amtrak California: Under the Amtrak California banner, Caltrans funds three of the five busiest intercity passenger rail routes in the Amtrak system: the Pacific Surfliner® corridor (ranked second), the Capitol Corridor® (ranked third), and the San Joaquin® corridor (ranked fifth). Caltrans manages both the Pacific Surfliner and San Joaquin corridors. The Capitol Corridor, although funded by Caltrans, is managed by the Capitol Corridor Joint Powers Authority. Visit us at www.amtrakcalifornia.com; join us on Facebook at Facebook.com/AmtrakCalifornia or follow us on Twitter at Twitter.com/Amtrak_CA

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