One of the best advantages in our push for 21st century American high-speed rail service has been the terrific passenger rail system already operated around the country by Amtrak. To increase speed and reliability, in many corridors we can put Americans to work upgrading the existing Amtrak network. Simply put, Amtrak's hard work makes our work a little easier. And there's no better proof of Amtrak's hard work than the milestone it recently celebrated: its 30 millionth passenger for the Fiscal Year of 2011.
Amtrak's 30.2 million passengers was its highest number ever and its eighth ridership record in the past nine years. And the numbers are up across the nation. Last year, Amtrak broke ridership records for 26 of its 44 services. Since 2000, ridership has climbed an impressive 44 percent.
Lucky number 30,000,000 went to Rochelle Lathan, a suburban St. Louis mother of 5, who travels on Amtrak frequently to Springfield and Chicago. Rochelle received an oversized commemorative Amtrak ticket and two 30-day rail passes.
She describes her regular travel on Amtrak as, “so relaxing and smooth.” And I couldn’t agree more.
What makes this a doubly great milestone is that Amtrak is also celebrating its 40th year of service. Amtrak was created in October of 1970 by Congress to “fulfill a vital national transportation need and to connect the nation in ways no other mode of transportation can.”
And there's no doubt in my mind that the folks at Amtrak have done exactly that.
But it is not only outside factors that are affecting Amtrak’s success; Amtrak employs thousands of hard working men and women, who all contribute to their success. As Emmett Fremaux, the head of Amtrak Marketing and Product Development said:
“This is an accomplishment of many hardworking and dedicated people doing what it takes to run a railroad. It is a long list and includes Amtrak employees such as locomotive engineers, conductors and other onboard train crew, station staff, mechanics, track workers, K-9 security teams, and numerous other behind-the-scenes employees who work at Amtrak and at our local, state and federal partners.”
Congratulations to Amtrak on this accomplishment, and keep up the good work!