WASHINGTON – Amtrak trains carried 31.2 million passengers in the fiscal year ending in September, the highest annual ridership since the railroad was formed in 1971, the nation’s intercity passenger railroad said Wednesday.
Ridership grew 3.5 percent over the past 12 months compared with the previous budget year, and ticket revenue jumped 6.8 percent to a best-ever $2.02 billion, Amtrak said. Ridership has increased every year but one over the past decade, and is up almost 50 percent from 2000.
“People are riding Amtrak trains in record numbers across the country because there is an undeniable demand to travel by rail,” Amtrak President and CEO Joe Boardman said in a statement. “Ridership will continue to grow because of key investments made by Amtrak and our federal and state partners to improve on-time performance, reliability, capacity and train speeds.”
At the same time ridership has been increasing, Republicans have stepped up their campaign to end federal subsidies to Amtrak.
The GOP platform adopted at the Republican National Convention in August calls for “the federal government to get out of way and allow private ventures to provide passenger service” in the lucrative Northeast corridor between Washington and Boston.
Business travel declines
NEW YORK – U.S. companies are continuing to cut back on employee travel plans amid uncertainty surrounding the health of the economy.
Americans are expected to take 438.1 million business trips this year, down 2 percent from last year, the Global Business Travel Association said Tuesday. Overall business travel spending is expected to be up 2.6 percent.
“Corporations are in a wait-and-see mode and holding back on investment decisions that would help boost the economy,” said Michael W. McCormick, the trade group’s executive director and chief operating officer.
The group cites a lack of significant job creation in the sectors that would spur business travel and worries about whether a package of steep tax increases and sharp government spending cuts can be avoided as factors hurting business travel plans.
NPS drains reflecting pool
WASHINGTON – The National Park Service has once again drained the reflecting pool in front of the Lincoln Memorial in the nation’s capital to clean an algae buildup that formed after a $34 million overhaul.
Park service spokesman Carol Johnson says the pool was drained Thursday and will remain empty for at least a week.
A two-year renovation re-engineered the pool to draw river water instead of city drinking water.
The park service says the system that fills the pool is being recalibrated to neutralize nutrients that feed algae.