Amtrak reports passenger loss of 1 million over past yearby Dan Olson, Minnesota Public Radio
St. Paul, Minn. — Amtrak said Monday its ridership dropped by more than 1 million passengers during the past year, but was still the second-highest year in the railroad's history.
Amtrak spokesman Marc Magliari said ridership on the Empire Builder, passenger service across Minnesota to the west coast was down slightly. However, Magliari said ridership on all of Amtrak's overnight trains was up.
"The Empire Builder itself was not up, the system as a whole of overnight trains was up just enough to make itself up almost 1 percent from last year," Magliari said.
Amtrak officials say they carried 27.2 million passengers during the 12 months ending Sept. 30. Amtrak's record was 28.7 million passengers during the previous year, a period coinciding with record high gas prices.
Still, ridership was up over two years ago by 5.1 percent. Amtrak officials blamed the decline on the weakened economy. Amtrak's on-time performance system wide averaged 80 percent over the past year, up sharply from 71 percent the year before.