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Amtrak today reported record revenue of $3.2 billion for the fiscal year ending September 30, 2014, marking the rail company’s fifth consecutive year of growth.
The rail line covered 93 percent of its operating costs with ticket and ancillary sales in fiscal 2014, up from 89 percent in 2013; however, it still operated at a loss of $227 million for the fiscal year. This is the lowest loss since 1973 for the publicly funded rail line and a 37 percent decrease compared with 2013, but no private or publicly traded company would get away with losses this large for as long as Amtrak has.
Amtrak doesn’t have to completely eliminate its operating losses as much as it needs to prove to lawmakers that it has a service and infrastructure that could one day operate in the green, and is deserving of continual funding toward that goal.
“Our financial performance over the past year is the clearest indication yet that Amtrak’s investments, operating efficiencies and focus on its customers is paying off,” said Amtrak chairman Tony Coscia.
“As we continue to make improvements in our operating and financial performance, we call upon the federal government and our stakeholders to support the capital investments necessary to keep moving Amtrak forward.”
Despite the increase in revenue, ridership numbers, totaling 30.9 million, were flat in fiscal 2014. Total ridership for fiscal year 2013 was initially tallied at 31.6 million, but the rail line recently began using different methodology and has since revised 2013 ridership to 30.8 million.
The polar vortex had a significant impact on ridership, especially in Amtrak’s largest markets around Chicago and along the Northeast corridor.
There have been concerted efforts at improving the Amtrak experience including electronic ticketing, plans to upgrade on-board Wi-Fi service along the well-traveled Northeast Corridor, and allowing small dogs and cats on trains.
Amtrak is also working to reposition its brand to the larger traveling public.
John Lee joined Amtrak as chief of marketing and advertising programs just over a year ago and launched the brand’s first ad campaign in two years.