WASHINGTON — Amtrak is on course to set a record for riders this year, chief executive Joseph Boardman said yesterday.
The passenger railroad is looking to surpass the 28.7 million riders carried in 2008, Boardman said, without predicting how many customers will use Amtrak this fiscal year, which ends Sept. 30.
Amtrak carried 13.6 million passengers from October through March, a 4.3 percent gain from the same months in 2009, the railroad said. In May, boardings rose 10 percent on Acela high-speed trains linking Boston and Washington, Boardman said. In April, ridership on all Amtrak trains climbed 7.9 percent and revenue increased 13 percent, Amtrak has said.
In the first quarter of its fiscal year, the railroad captured a record share of travel on rail or air between New York and Washington and New York and Boston, he said.
Amtrak, which gets operating cash from taxpayers, carried 65 percent of air or rail travelers from New York to Washington and 52 percent from New York to Boston, Boardman said. The previous market-share record was 63 percent to Washington and 50 percent to Boston since Acela began service in 2001, according to Amtrak.
Boardman, 61, became Amtrak’s chief executive in 2008 after serving as head of the Federal Railroad Administration and as New York state’s transportation commissioner.
Amtrak has no plans to follow most US airlines and charge passengers for baggage. Security screening in major rail stations will be handled without installing the types of screening machines used at airports, Boardman said. Amtrak is increasing the use of dogs trained to detect explosives and vapors, especially on Northeast Corridor trains, he said.
The railroad plans to trim the travel time on Washington-New York route to 2 hours, 15 minutes within two decades, cutting about 30 minutes from the trip by repairing bridges, tunnels, and tracks on the route, he said.