Amtrak sets rider record in November

Published 11:37 pm Friday, December 12, 2003

By Staff
WASHINGTON -- Amtrak ended the busiest November in its 32-year history with a ridership total of 2,076,054, up 11.7 percent over last year's total of 1,858,345.
All 16 long-distance trains posted double-digit gains and collectively posted a 32 percent surge in ridership. The most impressive gains were realized on the Capitol Limited (Chicago - Pittsburgh - Washington), up 54 percent; the Sunset Limited (Orlando - New Orleans - San Antonio - Los Angeles), up 50 percent; and the Cardinal (Chicago - Indianapolis - New York), up 51 percent due to a route extension from Washington to New York City. Regional trains in the Northeast, which account more than 25 percent of Amtrak ridership, posted a 15 percent gain over last November.
During the seven-day Thanksgiving travel period (Tuesday, Nov. 25 - Monday, Dec. 1), approximately 595,000 passengers stepped aboard Amtrak trains, making it the busiest week in Amtrak history. Thanksgiving ridership was up nine percent over last year and up five percent over the previous Thanksgiving record set in 2000 when ridership was 566,759.
The increases were attributed to an improving travel market and to Amtrak's "back-to-basics" approach to running the railroad. Among the recent initiatives under the back-to-basics approach are a new advertising campaign coupled with fare rollbacks, incentives for online booking, and a commitment to upgrading equipment and infrastructure to improve reliability.
As it has in past years, Amtrak took extraordinary steps to meet the increased travel demand around Thanksgiving: A total of 60,000 seats and 77 trains were added nationwide. In the Northeast, Amtrak operated on a special Thanksgiving schedule that provided more frequent service and required reservations to ensure that virtually every passenger had a comfortable seat. On the West Coast, Amtrak added eight trains to Cascades service between Portland and Seattle and went to "all-reserved" status to minimize standing-room conditions on the Pacific Surfliners between San Diego and Los Angeles.
While Thanksgiving is traditionally the busiest travel period for Amtrak, there are some busy days ahead in December. As a result, Amtrak is reminding passengers to make reservations as early as possible. Passengers are encouraged to "take the fastest route to a ticket" by booking their travel online at, then picking up their ticket at an automated Quik-Trak kiosk at the station (where available).
This process enables passengers to bypass any long station ticket lines during the holiday season.
As is the case year-round, passengers must present a valid, government-issued photo ID whenever purchasing tickets from an Amtrak agent or checking baggage. Carry-on items are limited to two pieces, not including purses, briefcases, laptops or other personal items.
About Amtrak
Amtrak provides intercity passenger rail service in 500 communities in 46 states across a 22,000-mile route system. For schedules and fares, visit Amtrak's Web site at or call 1-800-USA-RAIL.