Ridership: Up, Way Up!!!
By checking various sources, including Progressive Railroading and APTA, some impressive ridership increases from '04 to '05 are showing up, to wit:
-Amtrak California Capitol Corridor up 6.5%
-Amtrak Sacramento to Richmond up 9.4%
-Amtrak Surfliner up 4.6%, with the LA to San Diego portion up 6.0%
-Metro North up 3.8%
-Nationwide Transit ridership up over 3%, with specifics as follows,
-Philadelphia up 9.5%
-Dallas up 8.3%
-St. Louis up 6.9%
-Denver up 6%
-Boston up 5.5%
-Los Angeles up 5.2%
-Chicago's CTA up 4.5% for the highest increase since 1985
You might remember the "Rule of Seventy" from class, as it applies to percentages. The rule simply states that by dividing the percentage of increase into seventy, you arrive at a number that indicates when the base number will double. For example, if Amtrak's Capitol Corridor ridership continued to increase at a rate of 6.5% per year, ridership will doubled in 70 divided by 6.5, or in 10 years 9 months!
You can argue that ridership will not continue such growth. You may be right. Or, it might actually increase, if fuel prices go up, or if any number of things happen.
Let's assume that ridership increases average 3.5% over the foreseeable future. That means we will need roughly twice as much capacity in twenty years as we have today. I don't think we'll have to double our infrastructure, but I do think we'd better get busy!
And combined with the fact that carload freight increases are happening, these ridership increases show me that a lot of effort and material will be heading toward our railroad infrastructure over the next few years.
Who would have thought twenty years ago that railroads would be a growth industry?