TRANSPORTATION More riders for buses, trains
National ridership rose 50 percent at Greyhound and 40 percent at Amtrak.
By PETER H. MILLIKEN
VINDICATOR STAFF WRITER
YOUNGSTOWN -- The shutdown of the nation's airlines last week because of last Tuesday's terrorist attacks in New York and Washington and the aftermath of that shutdown have resulted in a surge in ridership on Amtrak trains and Greyhound buses, locally and nationally.
"We're seeing ridership levels that we would normally see at the height of our summer season," Kevin Johnson, manager of media relations for Amtrak in Chicago, said Monday.
Ticketed daily ridership is up nearly 40 percent nationally and locally since last Tuesday, compared with the same period last year, he said.
Greyhound saw an average ridership increase of 50 percent nationally Wednesday through Friday of last week, compared with what's normal for this time of year, according to Lynn Brown, vice president for corporate communications at the bus line's Dallas, Texas, headquarters.
For Tuesday through Sunday, Greyhound reported an 11 percent increase over the same period last year in the number of passengers departing from Youngstown, but the company won't release actual numbers of tickets sold locally until its next quarterly report.
By Monday, Greyhound, which carries about 25 million passengers a year, was carrying a normal volume of passengers nationally for this time of year, Brown said.
Amtrak figures: Johnson noted 3,154 people got on and off Amtrak trains in Youngstown and 4,889 in Alliance in the fiscal year that ended Sept. 30, 2000, the last full year of statistics. During that fiscal year, Amtrak carried more than 22.5 million passengers nationally.
Amtrak runs the New York to Chicago Three Rivers train, which stops in Youngstown daily. Two trains stop daily in Alliance: The Pennsylvanian, which runs from New York to Chicago, and the Capitol Limited, which runs from Washington to Chicago. The Alliance figure consists of both trains combined.
"We're putting everything in service that we can," Johnson said, referring to additional rolling stock Amtrak has mobilized in recent days to meet the demand.
Stranded airline passengers switched last week to Amtrak and Greyhound to get to their destinations, both spokespeople said, and Brown said there was a notable increase in business travelers on Greyhound.
Leery of flying: Johnson said he expects Amtrak will be handling an increased passenger load for the foreseeable future as airlines maintain reduced schedules and some people remain reluctant to fly, but Brown refused to speculate on future demand for Greyhound service.
"We recognize this is an unusual situation, and we're doing our best to keep America moving," Johnson said.
"We are capacity flexible," Brown said, noting that Greyhound's capacity is constantly adjusted to meet demand. "We add buses and drivers until we run out of buses and drivers," she said.
Greyhound has about 2,700 buses and about 5,000 drivers and has more than 20,000 daily departures to 3,700 destinations nationally, she said.
As for security improvements since Tuesday's terrorist attacks, Greyhound has made it mandatory that all ticket purchasers give their names, and it has added security guards at some terminals.
"We're trying to match IDs and tickets," Johnson said, adding that Amtrak passengers may now be asked to show identification when presenting their tickets.
Amtrak is selling more tickets, but is incurring increased costs to add capacity, so there's no windfall for Amtrak, he said.