Amtrak sees big drop in riders through Twin Cities in Minnesota

December 28, 2015

By David Peterson, Star Tribune

Amtrak’s Empire Builder passenger rail service, which passes through the Twin Cities, suffered the biggest drop in ticket revenue this year of any of the 15 major lines on its national network.

The $4 million setback accounted for a large share of the $13 million drop collectively among the national lines, including such iconic services as the City of New Orleans.Website Insert Perfect Answer copy

Cheaper gas is partly to blame, having hurt public transportation of all kinds in recent years. But the Empire Builder has suffered as well from delays caused by trains serving the oil boom in North Dakota.

“We’ve had some tough operating years,” said Marc Magliari, Amtrak regional spokesman in Chicago. “There was a lot of freight congestion in 2013, 2014.

“We’ve started to see improvements, but our on-time performance is still not what we’d like it to be, though it’s better than it was.”

 The boom in the western North Dakota oil patch should have boosted the numbers; and indeed, Minot and Williston, N.D., have been second only to Chicago as origins and destinations for Minnesota riders.

But ridership along the Minnesota and Twin Cities portion of the line has been off substantially.

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