Saturday, October 13, 2012

Amtrak revenue update update

In response to my post last night about Amtrak ridership and revenue, Paul Druce pointed out that Amtrak's revenue numbers include government operating support, but that the same PDF lists ticket revenues on Page A-3.5. So if we combine them into one spreadsheet, here are the top ten routes in terms of "farebox recovery" for Fiscal Year 2012, October through July:

RouteTicket revenueTotal costsTicket contribution (loss)"Farebox" recovery ratio
Acela$ 427,414,994($242,800,000)$184,614,994176 %
Washington-Lynchburg9,654,320(6,600,000)3,054,320146 %
Northeast Regional446,466,387(369,000,000)77,466,387121 %
Washington-Newport News28,270,176(25,900,000)2,370,176109 %
Carolinian15,300,066(16,600,000)(1,299,934)92 %
Albany-Niagara Falls-Toronto20,102,961(23,200,000)(3,097,039)87 %
Keystone27,517,953(37,800,000)(10,282,047)73 %
Empire36,594,768(52,400,000)(15,805,232)70 %
Auto Train62,356,483(89,900,000)(27,543,517)69 %
Palmetto14,320,227(23,500,000)(9,179,773)61 %

It's a whole different game when you look at it that way.


Mike Hicks said...

Yeah, I've made this mistake before. I'd actually like to see data that includes revenue from things like food and parcel service, but Amtrak doesn't release that information as far as I'm aware. But whatever, that's likely to be a much smaller share of the pie than state support (though the level of state support varies quite a bit from route to route).

Alon said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Alon said...

It's interesting how this changes the list of best-performing off-NEC routes. If you do count state support as revenue, then Chicago-St. Louis, St. Louis-Missouri, and the Adirondack almost break even, while Empire and Keystone look like the biggest short-distance money pits. But if you just look at ticket revenue it turns out to be the opposite.

Unknown said...

Glad to see Heartland Flyer numbers are up 6% so far. Encouraging. Now if we can just keep those on-time numbers from dropping...

Woody said...

Very interesting table, with two NY state routes.

The three (iirc) daily trains Albany-Niagara Falls-Toronto do very well, showing a modest loss.

The Empire trains running 13 times a day NYC-Albany offer a fairly convenient schedule (leaving about every other hour and taking 2 hours 30 minutes). But with losses of $16 million, the corridor is not doing much better at farebox recovery than Amtrak's long distance trains.

Whazzup with that?

Not sure what is in the "Empire" figures from Amtrak. The 13 trains on the route include the Ethan Alan, Adirondack, Lake Shore Limited, and Maple Leaf, as well as the two trains NYC-Niagara Falls. So seven trains run NYC-Albany only. Does the $16 million loss comes from them only, and not some double-counting of the longer-distance trains?

OK, the loss is $1 million per for the three trains between Albany and Niagara Falls/Toronto. It is about $1.25 million per for the 13 trains NYC-Albany. It's over $2.25 million per if it only applies to the seven trains that do not go beyond Albany.

Well, I've always heard that Amtrak accounting is not easy to follow. I'm feeling lost here.

Woody said...

Apologies to Amtrak's accountants. I hit Publish and realized one simple error. The three trains Albany-Niagara Falls/Toronto include the Maple Leaf to Toronto. Its figures are reported separately. That leaves two daily trains Albany-Niagara Falls with a $3 million loss, or about $1.5 million per train.

BUT I STILL can't figure out why the larger $2.25 million loss per train on the seven running only on the Empire corridor NYC-Albany.

I'd expect smaller losses per departure because usually greater frequency raises total ridership.

In any case, I think I stayed up too late past my bedtime. So I'm leaving this conundrum to smarter heads tomorrow. ;-)

neroden@gmail said...

I knew the Carolinian was doing well. The Niagara Falls trains are doing better.

I think the problem with the Albany-NYC trains is that Albany simply isn't that large a metro area. Anyone travelling from Poughkeepsie southwards will take Metro-North, so there's minimal traffic from that point south. And there simply aren't that many cities between Poughkeepsie and Albany.

So the Albany-NYC trains serve *only* people shuttling between Albany and NYC. There just isn't that much demand for this -- not enough for SEVEN extra trains.

In contrast, the Niagara Falls trains serve Niagara Falls, Buffalo, Rochester, Syracuse, and Utica as well as Albany.

Albany-NY is also served by the Ethan Allen Express to Vermont, and the Adirondack to Montreal. It's got five trains before adding the Albany-NY-only trains. There are simply too many trains terminating at Albany. Extend 'em to Saratoga Springs or Syracuse and you'd see improvements.

neroden@gmail said...

Uh, "The Niagara Falls trains are doing better than I expected."