NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

Attack Affects Transportation: Travelers Switch to Amtrak

September 14, 2001

On Tuesday, Amtrak recorded the highest one-day ticket-sales revenue in its 30-year history. Some experts think that in the wake of the terrorist incidents the uptick in intercity train travel could last for years.

  • Amtrak's ridership surged 60 percent following the two-day shut-down of U.S. aviation.
  • While the increase was most pronounced in the busy Washington-Boston Northeast corridor, patronage also rose throughout the financially ailing company's long-distance network -- particularly between Chicago and New York, New York and Florida and Chicago and the West Coast.
  • Amtrak says it has added all available passenger cars to its trains and is honoring airline tickets of stranded travelers.
  • While Amtrak has had its share of accidents -- including one yesterday in Utah -- it could now become the transportation mode of choice for many travelers, particularly as new security procedures at airports render air travel more costly and time-consuming.

Due to its precarious financial position, Amtrak's future is uncertain. Congress has mandated that Amtrak break even by the end of next year or face restructuring or liquidation.

Source: Daniel Machalaba and Carlos Tejada, "Amtrak Ridership Jumps by 60 Percent; Increase Could Endure for Years," Wall Street Journal, September 14, 2001.

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