Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Amtrak sets annual rider record, raises prices nationwide

Today Amtrak issued a press release (PDF) proclaiming a new annual record, with 31.2 million tickets sold in the past year. Ridership grew 3.5% from 2011, with revenue growing 6.8%. Some other highlights are at the link, including news that the San Joaquin saw a 7.2% increase to 1.1 million rides. While the percentage wasn't the highest (Piedmont increased 16.2%), it was actually the second largest total increase, with 77,175 new rides. The largest increase was the Keystone, which edged out the San Joaquin by less than new 800 rides.

To celebrate the occasion, Amtrak rolled out a new nationwide fare hike which seems to have affected every route, including California. The fare hike does not appear to be accompanied by any news release, and took effect immediately.

The San Joaquin, for example, went up a dollar to $34 for a trip from Fresno to LA. Other routes, like the Acela, saw significantly higher jumps. It appears that every route saw at least $1 in ticket price increase, which means a huge variation in the percentage change.

Amtrak prices their trains in "buckets" in which they set a minimum price for a station pair. As the train fills up, the price moves up to higher buckets. That's the same way airlines price, which helps manage demand, encourage early bookings, and raises revenue.

For example, between Fresno and LA, it looks like the new buckets are:

$34
$41
$50
???

At the busiest times, like Thanksgiving, the price has gone over $60. If my memory is correct, the 3rd bucket actually went up by $3, as I recall it being $47. I can't find a way to confirm this though. Any frequent travelers care to compare old and new pricing for their favorite trip?


1 comment:

  1. Los Angeles to San Diego was $36, last summer, now it's $46..! That's a $20 hike for a round trip. Can't say I'm happy about that, as I can buy several days worth of groceries for $20... :(

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