Facing Record Gas Prices, More Americans are Taking the Train

Amtrak, which runs America’s passenger railroad, reports that ridership increased sharply in May as high gasoline prices prompt more Americans to forsake their cars and ride the rails. Ridership on the inter-city rail network rose 12.3 percent in May compared to May 2007, and ticket sales were up 15.6 percent, Amtrak reported. Amtrak president Alex Kummant said soaring gas prices were responsible for much of that increase, and rail advocates said a 15 percent jump in travel on long-distance routes in May showed that trains can compete with planes as fuel prices lead to higher airline ticket prices. Passenger railways account for less than 1 percent of total annual travel miles in the U.S., as compared to 6 to 8 percent in Europe and 18 percent in Japan.