November 18, 2010
The Amtrak Virginia train on the Lynchburg route has exceeded its annual performance targets for its first full year of operation. The route provides a daily one-seat ride as far north as Boston from Lynchburg in the I-81/Route 29 corridor.
Ridership for the train, which began Oct. 1, 2009, is tracked based on the federal fiscal year. From Oct. 1, 2009, to Sept. 30, 2010, the Lynchburg train achieved an annual ridership of 126,072, exceeding its yearly target of 51,000 by 147.2 percent. The service also exceeded the annual revenue goal of $2,580,000 by generating $6,337,457.42 in revenue, 145.6 percent over the goal.
“Virginia is very proud of the success of this train,” said Virginia Department of Rail and Public Transportation (DRPT) Director Thelma Drake. “This success shows that there is demand for intercity passenger rail service in Virginia, and by serving major population centers we are able to remove thousands of cars from the highways.”
The service’s monthly ridership began at 8,585 in October 2009, and ended the first year of operation at 9,690 in September 2010. The average monthly ridership was 10,506 over the year period. There are many factors that can influence ridership month to month, such as additions/changes in service, seasonal changes, service interruptions, on-time performance, fuel prices and unemployment levels.
“The Lynchburg train is the best performing state-supported train in Amtrak’s system in terms of cost-recovery,” said Jay McArthur, principal officer in Amtrak’s Policy & Development Department. “The partnership between Amtrak and the Commonwealth is a great example of a cooperative arrangement that meets a need for intrastate rail service.”
The Lynchburg service is one of two in the Amtrak Virginia partnership. The Richmond service, which was launched July 20, 2010, has also experienced promising success during its first months of operation. Because performance goals are tracked on the federal fiscal year, which ends September 30, the Richmond service was tracking toward goals representing 72 days of operation.