Ridership increases on Virginia Amtrak routes

Published: Aug. 30, 2022 at 6:26 PM EDT
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ROANOKE, Va. (WDBJ) - The number of people taking the train continues to climb across the Commonwealth. Ridership on Amtrak’s state-supported routes hit an all-time high during the month of July.

More than 110,00 passengers used Amtrak’s Virginia routes during the month. That’s an increase of more than 28% over June, and almost 20% over the same period in 2019, before the pandemic hit.

Michael McLaughlin is the Chief Operating Officer of the Virginia Passenger Rail Authority.

“I think it shows that people want options on how they travel throughout the Commonwealth, whether it be a car, whether it be a bus, whether it be a train or by plane,” McLaughlin said. “People want options and many of them like the rail option.”

It was July 11 when the second Amtrak train began serving Roanoke. So that was part of the equation.

On the Roanoke route, ridership was up 27% from the month before, and up 31% compared to July 2019.

“Even on routes that we didn’t add service, say the Richmond route, we still saw an increase in service,” McLaughlin said. “That spring increase from April to May to June we still believe is increasing a little bit. Obviously adding the additional train to Roanoke and Norfolk has increased the numbers even more.”

McLaughlin said he’s looking forward to seeing the results for the period when college students were heading back to school. And he said he expects ridership on Virginia’s state-supported trains to continue growing as more people learn about their options and the opportunity to travel by rail.