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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.

17 Responses to Buffalo, Rochester & Amtrak

  1. With the cost of flying going up I’ve really embraced the train. I do wish we had faster service. And the Internet the have doesn’t allow video streaming which is ridiculous on so long a trip so DVDs make for more bulk in your luggage. I was a couple of minutes late once and train waited for me. Really nice.

  2. HSR does not make sense cost or time wise. No HSR that I have seen is an express ROCH to NYC, therefore no matter how fast you go you have multiple stops which makes it no faster than driving. The Train goes via the right angle of the hypotenuse via Albany. IF there was talk to connect ROCH to Ithaca and then to NYC that would be worth looking into and would allow for an express train ROCH to NYC

  3. October 19, 2012 at 12:22 pm Havahd St responds:

    I love riding the train because of the comfort, outlets for devices, and the fact that you can walk around. I used to ride it to Maine for the summer all the time. The main problem is that it is SOOOO unreliable timewise. I took a train last February to Chicago for a friend’s party, it took 12 hours overnight to get there (as expected), but about 19 to get back. Somehow we were delayed by rain and if there is a freight train seemingly within 20 miles of the train they have to wait for it to pass. They also give no indication over the PA or anything as to why it is delayed. Take the train if you have lots of time, but until they have a dedicated track just for Amtrak, it will be inconsistent.

  4. Great links today, Rachel!

  5. October 19, 2012 at 2:36 pm theodore kumlander responds:

    it cost a lot of money to keep a person in prison, and now they taking a job that should go to an honest hard working person. now it is costing the tax payers 2x as much.

  6. October 19, 2012 at 2:37 pm theodore kumlander responds:

    or it is the chines model using prisoner labor for free.

  7. October 19, 2012 at 2:37 pm theodore kumlander responds:

    sorry chinese

  8. October 19, 2012 at 2:59 pm Mittens responds:

    Where are the high rises in the new concept model? Disappointed. The plans went from a new tallest building and several other high rises, to a high rise and several mid rises, to nothing but 2-5 story buildings in a DOWNTOWN AREA!!!

    • October 19, 2012 at 4:15 pm Rachel Barnhart responds:

      Well, we don’t know what is going on the remaining parcels. High rises are still possible. I believe zoning downtown actually requires taller buildings.

  9. A few thoughts:

    When I was commuting back to Rochester to work on the special mayoral election last year, I often took Amtrak in the morning, as there’s a 7AM train eastbound. But coming home I almost always had to take Greyhound :( as the schedules just aren’t frequent enough.

    And that’s the chicken-and-egg problem Upstate: infrequent (and yes, unreliable) schedules and absolutely horrible 70s era “Amshack” stations discourage passengers who could provide the numbers to justify better facilities and increased service. Note that Syracuse — just an hour by train from Rochester — does make the top-5 list. Syracuse has a relatively new, well-designed intermodal station that combines rail, intercity bus, and local transit connections under one roof. The station is also near the Carousel Mall and the State Fairgrounds — destinations in and of themselves. In fact, I wrote about taking the train to the fair here:
    http://www.buffalorising.com/2010/09/new-york-state-fairby-rail.html
    and I wonder if trips to the State Fairground station are included in the Syracuse numbers (which would boost them).

    Also to keep in mind looking at the “top 5″ numbers: the Buffalo area actually has TWO stations — a suburban Amshack and a ridiculous little DT station. Although neither inspires anyone to say “let’s take the train,” I suspect that, added together, their passenger totals might put Buffalo on the list. Buffalo’s DT station also links to Toronto (via NF), a somewhat popular route.

    Funded track improvements now underway Upstate, and planned/underway station improvements (Rochester, Niagara Falls) combined with gas prices remaining high will get folks to take another look at taking the train, which will prod along the on-again-off-again discussions of upgrading passenger rail facilities in the Buffalo area. All that, taken together, will help re-establish passenger rail as a viable option, once again, in the minds of much of the public. Which is a crucial step toward justifying the investments that would be needed for significantly higher service speeds Upstate (west of the Hudson).

  10. About the new Midtown renderings: my computer is telling me nearly an hour to download the PDF :-( Any chance Rochester’s Best Blogger might scrape some JPGs from it into a separate blog post–?

    Oh, I forgot: Please :-)

  11. Pingback: Buffalo, Rochester & Amtrak » The Rochesterian | I Luv Rochester

  12. October 20, 2012 at 9:22 am Tom Vierhile responds:

    Let’s be honest, Rachel. “High speed rail” is a complete farce. From the October 20th D&C “Amtrak hits 111 mph in midwest test. The 30 mph increase from the route’s current top speed is a morale booster for advocates of high speed rail in America…”

    HSR is the biggest scam in American history. All this crowing about a 30 mile per hour speed increase. For crying out loud, that’s like attaching a moped to your car and bragging about it. This will make little or no difference in travel times.

  13. Actually the NYS Thruway is the biggest scam in American history. Not only were tolls supposed to be removed after a certain date, but that big, wide and beautiful center median which would make a perfect passenger rail right of way, is legally prohibited from being turned into that. So not only do we pay for the Thruway (and Canal, a part of the Thruway Authority for some reason) via tolls still, we aren’t allowed to develop OUR roads as WE see fit.

  14. April 14, 2013 at 3:17 pm Maurice Amtower responds:

    Newcastle Central Station, or simply Newcastle or Central Station, is the mainline railway station in the city of Newcastle upon Tyne, England and is a principal stop on the East Coast Main Line. It opened in 1850 and is a Grade I listed building. The railway station is connected underground to the adjacent Central Station Metro station. Mainline services are operated by Cross Country south to Leeds, Sheffield, Derby, Birmingham, Bournemouth, Bristol, Cardiff, Plymouth and Reading.-

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  15. When I initially commented I clicked the “Notify me when new comments are added” checkbox and
    now each time a comment is added I get several emails with the same
    comment. Is there any way you can remove me from that service?
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