Virginia’s Amtrak service ridership hit 105,689 in September, up from the pre-pandemic 76,793 riders in September 2019, for 37.6 percent growth. That’s also an improvement from September 2021 ridership at 50,776.
In a Thursday press release, the Virginia Passenger Rail Authority said “the numbers show the strong rebound in post-pandemic travel with every route seeing an increase.”
In July, Amtrak and the VPRA announced an additional roundtrip between Washington, D.C. and Roanoke, resumed a roundtrip between Newport News and Washington that had been suspended during the pandemic, and added another roundtrip between Norfolk and Washington. In September, 28,357 passengers rode the Roanoke route, 28,805 rode the Newport News route, 37,609 rode the Norfolk route, and 10,918 rode a Richmond route that operated for four days in September.
VPRA Communications Manager Karina Romero said ridership sees seasonal fluctuation, and the VPRA expects strong ridership Thanksgiving through New Year’s Day.
“The Commonwealth of Virginia first launched state-supported passenger rail service in 2009 with one roundtrip between Washington, D.C. and Lynchburg. Since that time, the state’s service has grown to include eight roundtrips daily with stops at 17 stations along four corridors. All four corridors provide service to Washington, D.C. and points north including Philadelphia, New York, and Boston,” the VPRA release said.
“We don’t have any immediate plans to add additional frequencies, however, we are working on a number of infrastructure projects which will enable us to increase service,” Romero told The Virginia Star. “There’s a bit of a choke point in Northern Virginia, particularly at Long Bridge which crosses the Potomac into D.C., and once we alleviate that, we will be better able to add train service.”
“Virginians are continually turning to the train to escape traffic and to travel in a cost-effective and comfortable way,” VPRA Executive Director DJ Stadtler said in the release. “We are encouraged by our consistently strong ridership numbers, and we will work closely with Amtrak and our other partners to ensure our service is consistent, safe, and on time.”
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