Amtrak ridership rises 15.8% in Tampa
TAMPA - Amtrak is chugging toward an annual ridership record, and Tampa is moving at four times the national rate. Ridership from October through March grew 3.7 percent nationwide compared with the same period last year. Ridership gains at Tampa's Union Station were even stronger at 15.8 percent for a total of 77,781 passengers. For the past three years, local ridership is up 46.2 percent. The Silver Star between New York and Miami is the one daily passenger train serving Tampa's Union Station. One of every three passengers on the route gets on or off at Tampa.Amtrak has set ridership records nationwide in eight of the past nine years, and this year's numbers so far indicate 2012 will surpass last year's record of 30.2 million passengers. Amtrak was established by Congress in 1970 to take over intercity operations from railroads that wanted to drop passenger service. It receives subsidies through the Department of Transportation. "Amtrak achieving ridership records is important, but it is more critical that the right infrastructure be in place to continue this trend in the years to come," Amtrak President and chief executive Joe Boardman said. Amtrak officials have credited the service's growing popularity to patrons seeking to avoid high gasoline prices, better marketing and convenience. A one-way reserved coach ticket on Saturday's Silver Star from Tampa to Miami costs $39.
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