Amtrak reaches record ridership figures nationally, Champaign boasts strong numbers

Amtrak and the Illinois Terminal in Champaign are happy about record figures from this fiscal year.

A recent press release announced Amtrak had posted record numbers for fiscal year 2010. In the year ending Sep. 30, ridership had surpassed over 28 million passengers nationwide. Ticket revenue reached a record $1.74 billion for the company. Ridership grew by 5.7 percent compared to 2009.

In the Champaign-Urbana station, ridership also increased compared to the previous year. Ridership at the Illinois Terminal in downtown Champaign grew to 142,406 passengers, up from 141,745 in 2009, said Marc Magliari, spokesman for Amtrak.

Magliari said increases both locally and nationally can be traced to many reasons. He cited the rise in gasoline prices, increase in amenities on the lines and the ongoing economic turmoil in particular.

Adam Shanks, director of the Illinois Terminal, said the increases in ridership have been constant in Champaign. He cited the benefits of having a newer building, such as the Illinois Terminal. The Illinois Terminal building opened in 1999, and he said ridership has steadily increased in not just the Amtrak lines but also in Greyhound, public and other forms of transportation.

“Through the years, we’ve seen increases in all services,” Shanks said. “The new facility has helped in many ways.”

Magliari said Amtrak’s services are particularly popular with college students and their “quick access” to passengers. He said a trip to Chicago, for example, can be more productive by train as the trip does not take long and gives the passengers an opportunity to fit in more to their schedule.

“It’s very reasonable and popular among students and professors,” Magliari said. “People have to travel to do outside work or visit family, and we offer those opportunities.”

Tenisha Riley, undergraduate student of Parkland College, said she travels by train at least three times a week to visit her friend in Mattoon, Ill., an Amtrak stop about 45 miles south of Champaign. She said she enjoys the pleasant atmosphere, and the service offers a safe environment.

However, she added that she wished their on-time performance was better. The train she was taking that evening was already running late.

“I really don’t like it when they’re late,” Riley said.