WIUM Tristates Public Radio

Amtrak Ridership Dips in Illinois but Up Nationally

Jan 9, 2017

More than 4.6 million people rode an Amtrak train in Illinois in 2016. Overall ridership on Illinois routes was down about 3.5% from 2015. In Macomb, ridership dropped to about 68,000. 

Macomb Mayor Mike Inman said the drop in his community could be blamed on several factors, including declining student enrollment at Western Illinois University.

“For many of those students, the Amtrak service is their only means by which to get to and from home and we’ve had relatively low gas prices especially when you look at inflation adjusted," Inman said.

He added that it's still a mobile society and Americans enjoys the control of being ability to drive someplace and leave when we desire.

Macomb and Galesburg both are on the list of top 10 busiest Amtrak communities in Illinois. Most cities on the top 10 list are university towns.

The busiest Amtrak Communities in Illinois:

  • Chicago
  • Bloomington-Normal
  • Springfield
  • Urbana-Champaign
  • Carbondale
  • Galesburg
  • Macomb

Despite lower ridership levels in Macomb, Amtrak is reinvesting in the train station on E. Calhoun St. to make it more ADA compliant. Amtrak plans to upgrade the bathrooms, add a handicap accessible ramp to the building, and realign the interior seating to accommodate wheelchairs.

Nationally, Amtrak served more than 31 million people in 2016. That’s up about 2% over the previous year. The rail service also saw record ticket revenue of more than $2 billion.