Amtrak sees drop in trips to Glenwood Springs | AspenTimes.com

Amtrak sees drop in trips to Glenwood Springs

John Stroud
Glenwood Springs correspondent
Aspen, CO Colorado

Post Independent fileAmtrak trains passing through Glenwood Springs were a less consistent sight in recent months, as the California Zephyr route was detoured north through Wyoming for a total of 54 days in July, August and September. In 2008, the Glenwood Springs train station ranked as the second busiest station in Colorado by rider volume.

GLENWOOD SPRINGS – About 7,100 fewer people were destined for Glenwood Springs via Amtrak for the fiscal year just ended, according to Amtrak regional officials.

While the recession likely played into the downturn, it can also be linked to service disruptions through Colorado during the summer tourism season due to construction on tracks along the California Zephyr line in the state.

“We did have an annual track work project that did cause a detour of the line [through Wyoming and northern Utah],” Amtrak regional spokesman Marc Magliari said last week.

Although bus service was offered for Amtrak passengers destined beyond Denver to Glenwood Springs or Grand Junction, the numbers were likely down as a result, he said.

For the fiscal year from Oct. 1, 2008, through Sept. 30 of this year, Amtrak recorded 29,371 riders to and from Glenwood Springs. That number, which included Amtrak passengers using the bus option during the detour periods, is down from 36,484 for fiscal year 2008, Magliari said.

Amtrak service through Glenwood Springs was disrupted during six different nine-day periods from July 1 through Sept. 24.

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The service disruption came during the height of the summer tourism season in the central Rocky Mountains, including Glenwood. In fact, in 2008, the Glenwood Springs train station ranked as the second busiest in Colorado in terms of rider volume.

“I did hear, anecdotally, that the number of people coming in on the train was down,” said Kate Collins, vice president of marketing for the Glenwood Springs Chamber Resort Association. “It did take a couple of months out of our season for a populace that is interested in train travel. In the future, I think we are going to see that number go back up.”

Amtrak in general had one of its best years ever, recording its second highest ridership total, roughly 27.2 million passengers, since the National Railroad Passenger Corp. started operations in 1971. That number was shy of the all-time record of 28.7 million passengers set just last year, according to Amtrak.

“We were able to post gains in ridership in many areas, even with the recession,” Magliari said.

That included several short distance lines on the east coast and in the midwest, as well as some of Amtrak’s long distance lines, such as the Coast Starlight line between Seattle and Los Angeles, which had a 22 percent increase in ridership this past year.

However, ridership on the California Zephyr line, between Chicago and San Francisco, was down about 2 percent, from 352,563 riders in 2008 to 345,558 for the year ended Sept. 30.

According to Magliari, Amtrak detours north of Colorado took place during the periods from July 1-9, July 16-24, Aug. 1-9, Aug. 16-21, Sept. 1-9 and Sept. 16-24.

While bus service was offered from Denver to Glenwood Springs and Grand Junction during those times, bus service was not offered as an option for eastbound passengers coming from Salt Lake City, Magliari said.

jstroud@postindependent.com

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