Ridership on Amtrak's Keystone Service line has risen every year since 2006, and it's up about 40 percent since that time, according to the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation. In the fiscal year that ended June 30, the 104-mile line handled a record 1.28 million trips, a 4 percent increase over the previous year, PennDOT said.
Spokesman Rich Kirkpatrick says the increases are due to efforts to make the service faster and smoother.
Following a $145 million upgrade by the federal government and Amtrak completed in 2006, the line now offers 90-minute express service at 110 mph between Harrisburg, Lancaster and Philadelphia 158 times a week as well as a direct link to New York City.
Officials say about $26 million more received earlier this year will make the service even faster. State officials say they hope to boost the top speed on the Harrisburg-to-Philadelphia service to 125 mph, although that may be a few years away.
According to a 2006 survey, about 75 percent of the Keystone riders travel for work, 11 percent to visit family and friends, and 6½ percent for recreation, travel and shopping, Kirkpatrick said. Philadelphia is the goal of one-third of the passengers and is the most common destination.
Theresa Wrobel of Lawrenceville, N.J., was returning home Friday from Harrisburg after conducting a focus group for her marketing research firm.
"I used to drive, but I found the train much easier," she said. "It's cost-effective. Harrisburg to Trenton is about $35. It's more predictable; you never know what traffic will be like. It's more environmentally friendly."
Information from: The Patriot-News, http://www.pennlive.com/patriotnews