Harsh winter weather, track construction, and low gas prices are getting the blame for a drop in ridership in Illinois on Amtrak. The three state-supported routes, connecting Chicago with Carbondale, Quincy, and St. Louis, show a ridership drop of 4 percent for the 12 months ending Sept. 30. More than 1.3 million riders is still a “great” year, Amtrak says.
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“Our biggest Downstate station, our most popular station for Amtrak travel to and from Downstate Illinois, is Bloomington-Normal. We do a lot of business with the Illinois State University faculty, staff, students, and the business community there,” says Marc Magliari, Amtrak’s Chicago-based spokesman. “We do big business in places like Champaign-Urbana, where we have more people riding the trains on Amtrak than there is space for them in the waiting room.”
Nationally, ridership was up 0.2 percent to 30.9 million.