Train ridership in the San Joaquin Valley grew faster than almost any place in the nation last year, according to figures released Monday by Amtrak.
Amtrak's San Joaquin trains, which run between Bakersfield and Sacramento or the East Bay, carried a record annual total of more than 1,219,800 passengers during the federal fiscal year that ended Sept. 30. That's up 6.6% from the previous record of 1,144,616 passengers reported in the 2012 fiscal year.
The San Joaquin route provides six trains daily in each direction. The 6.6% ridership growth on the line was one of the biggest percentage gains among all Amtrak routes in the U.S., second only to the 9.7% growth reported on the Lincoln service between Chicago and St. Louis.
Amtrak reported passenger ticket revenue of $39.4 million on the San Joaquin route — a 1.9% increase from 2012, and the third highest figure among all Amtrak routes outside of the Northeast Corridor trains that run between Boston and Washington, D.C.
Nationally, Amtrak experienced record ridership of 31.6 million passengers — the 10th ridership record in 11 years. "This year's record ridership was achieved station by station in the more than 500 communities across America that Amtrak serves," Amtrak president and CEO Joe Boardman said.
Amtrak's San Joaquin trains serve some of the largest and smallest cities in the San Joaquin Valley. Northbound trains leaving Bakersfield make stops in Wasco, Corcoran, Hanford, Fresno, Madera, Merced, Denair and Modesto before arriving in Stockton. Four of the six daily trains continue on to Oakland, while two move northward to Sacramento.
The California Department of Transportation underwrites the San Joaquin line as well as two other Amtrak California routes, the Pacific Surfliner that rolls between San Luis Obispo and San Diego, and the Capitol Corridor between Sacramento and San Jose. All three California routes were among Amtrak's five busiest corridors in 2013.
Together, the San Joaquin, Pacific Surfliner and Capitol Corridor accounted for more than 5.6 million passengers — almost 18% of the nation's total train ridership of 15.4 million in fiscal 2013.
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