Gas Prices Boost Train Ridership

October 14, 2004
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GRAND RAPIDS — Area residents thinking of taking the Amtrak Pere Marquette to Chicago are going to be part of a growing crowd.

The Pere Marquette announced today that its ridership in this fiscal year that ended Sept. 30 was up nearly 20 percent to total 87,767 passengers. In fact, 2004 was the second consecutive year with such an increase.

In 2003, ridership increased 21.4 percent.

During the 2004 year, it said, revenue was up 15.5 percent.

Anna Christensen, chairman of Westrain, said the railway is an excellent alternative mode of transportation to the WindyCity, especially with increasing gasoline prices.

"I think West Michigan is realizing this and embracing rail travel as a necessity rather than just a novelty, like larger markets."

Ray Lang, Amtrak's director of government affairs, said that the numbers show that "Over the 10 years of service, the Amtrak Pere Marquette has become West Michigan's train."

Officials recently celebrated the anniversary of 20 years of services in West Michigan

Currently, the railway connects Grand Rapids, Holland, Bangor, St. Joseph-Benton Harbor and New Buffalo with Chicago in daily round trips.

The train's name derived from Michigan's Pere Marquette Railroad. Passenger Train Journal calls it "one of the nation's loveliest short-distance trains."    

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