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These are boom times for Amtrak. The railroad released its Fiscal Year 2012 ridership numbers, showing a dramatic increase over the last decade. Amtrak carried 31.2 million passengers over the last year, up 3.5 percent from the previous year and up a whopping 49 percent from 2000.

What’s driving the growth? It could be high gas prices, frustration with air travel and new Amtrak amenities such as Wi-Fi.

In Upstate New York, Amtrak did not see such dramatic year-to-year growth. Ridership between Toronto and Albany went up only .4 percent, although revenue for this line increased  5 percent. The route carried 407,729 passengers over the past year.

The Albany-New York City route is far more successful, carrying more than a million passengers.

Also notable, the top 5 train stations in New York state did not include Rochester or Buffalo. Total on/offs:

  • New York, NY 9,493,414
  • Albany-Rensselaer, NY 769,413
  • Rhinecliff, NY 177,375
  • Hudson, NY 167,286
  • Syracuse, NY 152,957

Perhaps Western New Yorkers don’t embrace Amtrak because it’s so much faster to fly – or even drive – to New York City. That’s where high-speed rail could make a huge difference in our willingness to jump aboard. But is it worth the cost?

Links of the Day:

- Check out the city’s latest conceptual drawings for Midtown Plaza.

- Suburbs want to be more city-like. Think I-Square.

- The head of the Massachusetts DOT is against…building highways.

- One Erie County town. Four districts. Is it time to consolidate?

- New York State prisoners staff DMV call centers.

- Wegmans is selling toys made from recycled milk jugs.