Report: Amtrak ridership at all-time high

Amtrak passengers
People board an Amtrak train at Penn Station in New York City. A new Brookings Institute report found Amtrak hit an all-time high in 2012 of more than 31 million riders a year.
Spencer Platt/Getty Images

A new report finds Amtrak ridership at an all-time high in the Twin Cities and other metro areas.

The report from the Washington-based Brookings Institution looked at ridership levels for the national railroad in the largest 100 metro areas between 1997 to 2012 and shows ridership in the metro has grown by about 20 percent.

Brookings senior fellow and report co-author Robert Puentes says ridership in the Twin Cities metro grew by about 20 percent since 1997. He says passenger rail is increasingly part of states' transportation policies.

"In order for metropolitan areas to compete, they have to be able to provide several different options for people in how they get around, for how business leaders are going to connect with other business leaders in different metropolitan areas and then how these regions are going to grow in the future," he said. "We are seeing continued congestion on the roadways, perhaps deterioration of the roadways in some cases, frustration with the airlines and looking at Amtrak as a potential alternative to some of the other modes."

Still, Puentes says the Twin Cities metro lags behind many other regions in Amtrak access, with just one station for the entire area. That station will relocate later this year from Midway to St. Paul's newly-remodeled Union Station.

Minnesota is working with Amtrak on the possibility of adding a second daily trip to Chicago.

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