Trains For America

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Acela fares being cut due to lower business ridership

While Amtrak ridership, generally speaking, has continued to look fairly healthy despite the poor economy and lower fuel prices, the same cannot be said of the its Acela high-speed service on the Northeast Corridor. The recession has led to a decrease in business travel, prompting the company to reduce Acela fares in order to bring in more leisure travelers. From Bloomberg:

Amtrak will offer one-way nonrefundable Acela business-class tickets for as low as $99 between New York and Washington, down from $133 or more, and as low as $79 between Boston and New York, from $93 or higher. The prices are available for travel from March 3 through June 26 and tickets must be purchased 14 days in advance.

Acela ridership dropped about 14 percent in January from the same month a year ago, and about 10 percent for the four months ending in January from the same period last year, spokesman Cliff Cole said in a telephone interview from New York.

If anything, this highlights the huge variation in the services Amtrak runs. Standard routes, and in particular those considered long-distance, have continued to see high levels of ridership. One wonders if many travelers aren’t fleeing air carriers and high-speed services like Acela for a cheaper, if longer, journey on a train. It will be interesting to see what the Amtrak numbers look like when people do have money to spend on air fares again, especially if gas stays cheap (doubtful). Hopefully by that point Acela won’t have to be the only fast train competing with air travel for much longer.

Filed under: Amtrak, United States High Speed Rail, ,

6 Responses

  1. toast2042 says:

    i wonder how this drop compares to ridership on equivalent air routes? better or worse?

  2. Avi says:

    The problem is Acela is still more expensive than airline flights from NYC to BOS/WASH. Also, the Acela price/time savings only makes sense for longer routes. NYC to BOS or WASH Acela can save you 45 min, but if you are only looking at NYC to PHL for example you’re only saving 10-20 min and paying twice the price for that privilege.

    If we eventually get real HSR that will hopefully yield a real time savings over the Regional. And if it really wants to succeed it needs to have coach and business class seats. Most leisure travelers care about time savings, but they don’t want to be forced to pay business class prices for it.

  3. […] you’re waiting for Amtrak to enter the 21st century, reports Trains for America, you ought to get yourself a ticket on the Acela. Seats on the high-speed service are being […]

  4. […] some judgments very soon." While you’re waiting for Amtrak to enter the 21st century, reports Trains for America, you ought to get yourself a ticket on the Acela. Seats on the high-speed service are being […]

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