MDOT: Amtrak sets ridership records in Michigan

From the Detroit Free Press:

Amtrak routes in Michigan are setting new ridership records, despite freight train delays that the state and federal government are investing millions to reduce, the passenger rail service said.

Amtrak said 503,290 passengers rode its Wolverine line on the Pontiac/Detroit-Chicago corridor in the fiscal year that ended in September, a 4.9% rise year over year, with ticket revenue up 11% to $18.8 million.

Ridership on the Blue Water line from Port Huron to Chicago grew 18.6% to 187,065 passengers, with ticket revenue increasing 22.3% to nearly $5.8 million. The Pere Marquette service from Grand Rapids to Chicago grew 4.7% to 106,662 passengers; ticket revenue grew 9.8% to nearly $3.2 million, Amtrak said.

“This past year marks the highest ridership totals ever on Amtrak services in Michigan,” Michigan Department of Transportation Director Kirk Steudle said. “All three lines, especially the Blue Water, have made great gains, despite the slowdowns on the Pontiac/Detroit-Chicago corridor. We’ve taken steps to repair the track between Kalamazoo and Ypsilanti, so that will help bring speeds back to what customers expect.”

Those steps include purchasing 135 miles of track between Dearborn and Kalamazoo, paid with federal matching grants that are part of an Obama Administration effort to boost high-speed rail nationwide. Michigan has received about $350 million from the feds to buy and upgrade track and equipment to boost passenger rail speeds to 110 m.p.h. over the next several years.