Amtrak Ridership on the route through Bloomington Normal went up 11% in the last federal budget year. Marc Magliari, a spokesman for the passenger rail service says that amounts to an additional 65,000 passengers on the Chicago to Saint Louis Corridor alone. Magliari says Amtrak managed its construction schedule better than it did in 2011.
"This year we made a lot of effort to make sure we were matching the bus capacity to the train capacity and I suspect some of that is reflected in this double digit growth from numbers that were held down a bit last year because of the bus substitutions."
Corridor traffic declined last year by about 5%. Magliari says track construction to get ready for high speed rail will not require busing next year. 675,295 passengers traveled Amtrak between Chicago and Saint Louis in the budget year just concluded. Magliari says station improvements in Normal will likely add to passenger traffic next year between Chicago and Saint Louis. He says Uptown station in Normal is a comfortable area for travelers and there are other possibilities afoot.
"There are live plans for other new stations including at Joliet and Alton. There are discussions about stations at Dwight and Pontiac and perhaps moving back into the Lincoln station."
Nationwide, the average increase was only 3.5% percent. On Illinois routes supported by state government average growth was 6%. Magliari says Chicago to Saint Louis grew more than other state supported routes. He says Chicago to Carbondale growth was 5%. Chicago to Quincy had a 4% increase. And Chicago to Milwaukee saw a 2.8% bump.
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