Amtrak Tracking for My Commute Between New York City and Philadelphia

Friday, October 30, 2009

Acela WiFi - more info

  • Amtrak plans to launch free WiFi on Acela Express trains in the second quarter of 2010. 
  • Wi-Fi installation already is underway on Acela Express trains: "This service will initially be offered at no cost to our customers, though pricing may change depending on customer response, system performance and costs" Amtrak said.
  • Amtrak expects the free service to help increase ridership, adding $4.3 million in incremental revenue through the end of fiscal year 2014. 
  • Amtrak said it is preparing to extend Wi-Fi to other services, "depending on market response," with Northeast Regional trains likely the first

Acela to offer free Wi-Fi Internet access in 2010 as part of an effort to attract more riders

Bloomberg story stating Amtrak will offer free WiFi on Acela trains. This is good but they should offer it on all trains along the Northeast Corridor. And why did it take Amtrak so long to do this? Maybe the federal stimulus scratch helped out.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Amtrak Loses $32 Per Passenger on Avg. Acela Makes $41/passenger, Northeast Regional loses $5

Amtrak lost money on 41 of its 45 train lines in 2008, including a $145.23 per passenger loss on the Silver Star that serves Tampa on its New York-Miami run, a Pew Charitable Trusts research group reported Tuesday. System-wide losses ranged from about $5 to $462 per passenger. The average loss per passenger was about $32, four times the $8 per passenger Amtrak computed using different methods, according to the study by Subsidyscope, which reports on how federal subsidies are used.

The Northeast corridor has the highest passenger volume of any Amtrak route, greatly enhancing efficiency. The corridor's high-speed Acela Express made a profit of about $41 per passenger. The more heavily utilized Northeast Regional lost almost $5 per passenger.

Will Amtrak cut the biggest money losing accounts? I doubt it. There's complaints about Amtrak not being efficient but when certain routes are proven to be huge money losers they just never seem to go away.

I'm surprised to see the Northeast Regional trains lose almost $5/hour. If you look at the site: and choose the Northeast Regional line you'll see the line actually makes almost $20/passenger. But the site notes this disclaimer:

"Including depreciation and other unallocated costs adds an additional loss of $24.29 per passenger"

This total is deducted from every passenger across all Amtrak lines thus resulting in about a $5 loss for each Northeast Regional passenger. But the NEC regional is a money maker if you ask me. If you cut the most inefficient Amtrak lines, that $24.29 in 'other costs' will go down quite a bit I'm assuming resulting in all NEC trains showing a profit. Trains will make money where there is population density.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Amtrak 2009 ridership down, but still near record high

The AP story states that "Amtrak said 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. Figures released by the nation's intercity rail operator show Amtrak 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."

An Amtrak ridership drop for fiscal year 2009 was expected but this is a smaller drop than I anticipated. I think this shows rail travel is critical and even in a recession is still widely used and needed. I expect growth in Amtrak's riderships numbers to return quickly and for the high of 2008 to be passed as early as 2011. I believe it is a very good thing that the US government is spending stimulus money for rail improvement. Once ridership starts to pick up the system will be ready to handle the increased capacity due to the improvements.