WASHINGTON D.C.: According to U.S. rail company Amtrak, its ridership has nearly returned to pre-COVID-19 levels, rising by more than 10 million riders in the year ending 30th September.
Amtrak said ridership rose 89 percent over 2021 levels to 22.9 million riders, up 10.8 million passengers over the previous year, while its overall ridership hit about 85 percent of pre-COVID levels in the last six months of the 2022 budget year.
The company also said that by September 2023, its ridership and revenue could rise above 90 percent of pre-COVID levels, and reported an adjusted operating loss of $884.9 million, an improvement of over 18.2 percent from the 2021 budget year.
Amtrak aims to add up to 39 corridor routes and 166 cities by 2035, to expand its service throughout the U.S.
"We worked hard to restore service and grow ridership in the face of lingering impacts from the pandemic," said Amtrak CEO Stephen Gardner, as quoted by Reuters.
Under a $1 trillion bipartisan infrastructure bill passed in November 2021, Congress approved funding worth $22 billion for Amtrak.
In March, the Biden administration asked Congress for $3 billion in annual funding for Amtrak for 2023, $2.33 billion more than the current annual funding for the company.
The increased passenger traffic is "bucking the trend of continued lower ridership seen on most commuter railroads and public transit systems," Amtrak said.
In its 2022 budget, Amtrak invested $2.3 billion in capital projects, including key Northeast Corridor projects such as the Portal North Bridge in New Jersey near New York City and the B&P Tunnel Replacement Program in Baltimore.
In collaboration with its state and federal partners, it has also restored or expanded 11 routes and hired more than 3,700 workers, it added.