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MDOT renews Amtrak contract, notes record ridership on Michigan routes
November 16, 2006 - - As gas prices soared in 2006, travelers sought the benefits of Amtrak travel, making this year the best on record for the passenger railroad in the state of Michigan. Overall, the state's three Amtrak rail passenger routes showed increases for the year, serving 664,284 passengers and generating revenues of $20.3 million.
"Overall, passenger train routes in Michigan had an outstanding year," said State Transportation Director Kirk T. Steudle. "We attribute this excellent growth to higher gas prices at the pump, and increased marketing efforts on the part of local communities, which helped travelers discover the convenience and comfort of Amtrak. As a result, statewide ridership and revenue for passenger rail service reached an all-time high in 2006."
The operating contract between MDOT and Amtrak for two routes (the Blue Water and the Pere Marquette) recently was renewed for fiscal year 2006-2007, beginning Oct. 1, 2006. The contract is $6.2 million, a 12 percent decrease from the previous year's contract of $7.1 million. This decrease is credited to increases in ridership and revenues on the state-supported routes.
"We take pride in our partnership with the state of Michigan," said Don Saunders, Amtrak General Superintendent responsible for the passenger railroad's Michigan service. "The nearly 130 Amtrak employees in Michigan work to provide quality customer service and that's reflected in the growing Amtrak ridership in Michigan and across the country."
The Port Huron/East Lansing to Chicago train, called the Blue Water, enjoyed a 10.9 percent increase in ridership since last year, with ticket revenues of $3.4 million, up 21.7 percent for this period.
The Grand Rapids to Chicago train, called the Pere Marquette, showed a 5.7 percent increase in ridership over last year, with sales of $2.6 million, a gain of 20 percent for this period.
The Pontiac/Detroit to Chicago trains, called the Wolverine, increased by 7.9 percent, with sales of $14.3 million, an improvement of 22 percent from 2005.
Of the three routes, the Pere Marquette and the Blue Water are state-supported routes and each offers one daily, round trip. In April 2004, the Blue Water service was reorganized. The route previously had offered service to Canada, but now originates in Port Huron every morning with departures to Chicago.
Passengers on the state-supported routes travel for many reasons, including leisure, business, family, college and medical purposes. The summer months are the busiest, and there are heavy travel periods during the holiday season and spring break.
Keep Michigan families safe this winter season: Don't Crowd the Plow!